You Choose: Top Most Influential People of Color

By Malena Amusa May 11, 2007

(; note: the printed cover has a pic of Ayatollah Khamenei at the bottom right that is missing from this online promo image) I couldn’t but help grab this week’s issue of TIME Magazine: “The (100) Most Influential People in the World.” The cover had me sold. Wrapped around its headline were several bold pictures of people of color sprinkled strategically across the layout. From left to right: Sen. Barack Obama, model mogul Tyra Banks, NFL Coach Tony Dungy, China’s president Hu Jintao, and Iranian leader Ayatuallah Ali Khamenei. Seeing them, I became eager to learn if people of color would get equal footing inside the issue and not just on the cover. Digging in, I was skeptical. Too many times, people of color are treated as outliers on the arc or global influence. So when we are featured on these kinds of lists, I’m always analytical about what we’re being lauded for. Will the majority of the Black men and women fall under the “Artists and Entertainers” category, and the cutting-edge whites and Asians file up under “Builders and Titans” and “Scientists and Thinkers.” As I flipped through the issue, my racial paranoia grew. Each category, such as “Heroes and Pioneers” and “Leaders and Revolutionaries,” held with it the possibility of racial demarcation. And while the frequent number of people of color in the issue soothed my fears, only two appeared in the “Scientists and Thinkers.” So I remained cautious about this list. However, I also recognized the importance of the TIMES list. For starters, it’s a good mainstream tool to measure where people of color are having influence and where we are not. But of course, this job shouldn’t be left up to TIMES alone. So you tell me. Who do you think are the top most influential people of color in the world? You don’t have to list 100 or even 10, but let me know.