Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year-end Obit Round-up 2010

I have it, now. If you're a woman and your goal in life is to be included in the Notable Deaths, become an actor. Singing's good too. Especially opera.

Women and people of color continue not to die, according to the NY Times obituaries. There are 162 obituaries deemed notable; of those only 27 are of women (of these, 13--almost half--were either singers or actors), and an astonishing 18 are people of color--and I'm double-dipping, here, since Lena Horne, Shirley Varrett, Dorothy Height, and Abbey Lincoln make up a good chunk of both groups. There is one--one--Asian person included out of 162; and one Hispanic. That's just abysmal.

You would think the representation would begin to improve, but it's actually worse than last year. And, no, the obits are not a democracy; no, there is no affirmative action for famous dead people.

And, yes, the Times Magazine's The Lives They Lived feature is a) a more representative mix of men, women, and different races; and b) in their own words, unabashedly "idiosyncratic."

But the Notables list found room for the guy who founded Century 21, but not for the woman who made higher education accessible to a wider audience? Come on. This is ridiculous.

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