Illustration for article titled The Roots 25 Most Popular Stories of 2011

Lauren is a former Deputy Editor of The Root.

25. Blaming the Black Guy  

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Let's Not Forget Amanda Knox's Lie, Oct. 16, 2011: As the mainstream media reported that Italy's most notorious foreign student-turned-accused murderer had won her appeal, writer Phillip W.d. Martin reminded The Root's readers of an interesting fact: that Knox had initially pinned her roommate's murder on an innocent black man.

24. Open Season

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It's a Great time to Be Racist, Aug. 12, 2011: Editor-at-Large Nsenga Burton took a look at some of the crazy things being said about Barack Obama and wondered if America was in the midst of a "racist renaissance."

23. It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

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Who Killed the R&B Group, July 31, 2011: The Temptations. The Jackson 5. New Edition. Boyz II Men. SWV. The R&B group had a great run for decades, but the heyday of the soulful singing act seems to be over. Assistant Editor Akoto Ofori-Atta checked out an En Vogue show and talked to music execs, producers and critics to find out why.

22. Sister Speaks

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Sister Souljah: More Than a Street Lit Author, June 2, 2011: In this interview, the novelist and former MC explained to Ofori-Atta why rap plays second fiddle to writing and rejected the idea that her books belong to the street-lit genre.

21. Africa's New Frontier?

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Young Africans Who Want to Be Porn Stars, May 3, 2011: The headline might have seemed salacious, but this was a serious piece from Habibou Bangré about how some young adults on the continent are turning to the adult film industry to escape poverty.

20. Breast-Feeding Baggage

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Why Don't More Black Mothers Breast-Feed? Feb. 15, 2011: Contributor and breast-feeding advocate Jamila Bey breaks down the myths and historical baggage that keep some black moms from nursing their babies.

19. Malcolm, the Misogynist?

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Did Malcolm X Hate Women? June 10, 2011: It's a controversial question, but one that contributing editor Natalie Hopkinson felt needed to be asked after she read Manning Marable's biography of the African-American icon.

18. A Dark Secret

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The Lighter the Skin, the Shorter the Prison Term? July 2, 2011: A study released during the summer suggested that colorism comes into play when prison sentences are doled out. Reporter Topher Sanders tried to get some clarity on why that particular "ism" remains such a pervasive issue.

17. More Important Things

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Let's Not Be Distracted by Casey Anthony, July 7, 2011: Easier said than done, when she's plastered across the news 24-7, as she was in June and July. Nevertheless, Dr. Wilmer Leon tried to shift our collective attention away from Anthony's depressing case so that we could focus on unfairness in our justice system.

16. A Racial Wake-Up Call

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Does Bill Maher's Racial Humor Get a Pass? March 8, 2011: Mychal Denzel Smith examined the comedian's predilection for line-crossing racial jokes and questioned whether or not his offensive humor was acceptable. Smith's conclusion: no.

15. Childhood, Interrupted

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Coming of Age in Post-9/11 New York, Sept. 8, 2011: Only a sixth-grader when the twin towers fell in 2001, writer Brandee Sanders shared what it was like for herself and her peers to grow up in a city shaken by such an enormous tragedy.

14. Real or Fiction?

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Queen Latifah Says Gay Is the New Black, July 13, 2011: Beset for years by "is she or isn't she?" rumors about her sexuality, Latifah raised a few eyebrows when she played a closeted gay celebrity on Single Ladies, which she executive-produces. Contributor Edward Wyckoff Williams wondered if she was trying to tell us something.

13. 99er Problems

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When Unemployment Runs Out: Meet the 99ers, April 13, 2011: Not to be confused with the 99 percent — although they are surely part of that group — 99ers are the millions of Americans who have been jobless for so long that their unemployment benefits have run out. The Root's Washington reporter, Cynthia Gordy, introduced us to them just as they were falling off "Washington's radar."

12. Native Daughter

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Black, Red and Proud, Feb. 22, 2011: As part of our Black History Month coverage, Gordy chatted with Radmilla Cody, a black Native American whose claim to her heritage was challenged after she won the Miss Navajo Nation title.

11. Ancestry Advances

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Pinpointing DNA Ancestry in Africa, Oct. 1, 2011: Linda Heywood and John Thornton, professors of history and African-American studies at Boston University, tapped into the black community's interest in DNA ancestry with this piece about research that suggests slaves came to America from just 46 ethnic groups in Africa.

10. Never Forget

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Sept. 11: Remembering 3 Lives Lost, Sept. 2, 2011: Sharon Pendana knew three people who died in the 9/11 attacks: her former teacher, a family acquaintance and a dear friend. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of their deaths, she retraced their last moments and eulogized them in this heartbreaking article.

9. The Peculiar, and Persistent, Institution

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In Modern Slavery, Sad Echoes of Juneteenth, June 17, 2011: On the occasion of Juneteenth, an unofficial holiday celebrating the day that slaves in Texas belatedly got word that they were free, The Root staff took a look at the current state of slavery around the world.

8. The South's Siren Song

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Why We're Moving Back South, Aug. 23, 2011: There are plenty of reasons — some economic and some emotional — that black folks whose ancestors traveled north for better opportunities are moving their families back down South. Mary C. Curtis examined the reverse-migration trend.

7. A Taste of History

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What Our Ancestors Ate for the Holidays, Nov. 18, 2011: To whet our appetites for Thanksgiving, Natalie C. Moore interviewed African-American food historian Leni Sorenson about how our ancestors' holiday meals differed from ours.

6. A Bright Future

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The Root's Young Futurists List of 25 Innovators, Jan. 31, 2011: The Root put together a truly impressive group of young people for its first annual Young Futurists list, which honors 25 African Americans between the ages of 16 and 21 for being true innovators. The positive message of the list — as well as the students' amazing stories — really resonated with readers.

5. The Death of 'Black Mecca'

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Greenwood, Okla.: The Legacy of the Tulsa Race Riot, Feb. 24, 2011: It was the deadliest race riot in American history, and for residents of Greenwood — or "Black Wall Street" — a once-thriving black community, life would never be the same.

4. No Love Expert Here

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Steve Harvey's Relationship Drama, Jan. 30, 2011: Patrice J. Williams detailed the self-styled dating guru's messy divorce and questioned his ability to give the women of America sound love advice.

3. A Complicated Question

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Will White People Go to the National Black History Museum? May 20, 2011: When Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) suggested that white people won't go to a black museum like the National Museum of African American History and Culture — set to open on the National Mall in 2015 — Natalie Hopkinson fired back.

2. Highlighting Influence

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Meet The Root 100 Honorees for 2011, Oct. 5, 2011: For the third annual The Root 100 — our list of the most influential African Americans between the ages of 25 and 45 — we tried something new, using an algorithm that took into account social media followers, Web presence and substance. What resulted was an impressive list of celebrities, politicos, journalists and activists.

1. The Challenges of Memorializing an Icon

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The MLK Memorial's Complicated History, Aug. 22, 2011: From the race and nationality of its Chinese sculptor to its design to the type of granite used to make it, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial was plagued by small controversies leading up to its August debut on the National Mall. Cynthia Gordy expertly outlined the memorial's history in what would become our most popular article of the year.

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