Other Notable Symbols - 2016

#SymbolOfTheYear in 2016: the MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat

Other Notable Symbols from 2016, chosen by Symbolic Systems Program affiliates were:

ambulance photo of Omran Daqneesh in Aleppo

Still frame of Omran Daqneesh, Aug. 17, 2016, fromvideo distributed by Aleppo Media Centre

A 5-year-old Syrian boy, covered in dust and blood and sitting in an ambulance, became the face of Aleppo's suffering during the Syrian Civil War after he was injured in an air strike on August 17. The image of Omran Daqneesh was from a video posted by the Aleppo Media Centre. Omran's 10-year-old brother Ali died from his injuries in the strike. - Nominated by Tiffany Chao (Class of 2004) and Sunshine Weiss Pooley (Class of 1997)

taking a knee during the U.S. National Anthem

players on the Miami Dolphins kneel on one kneeduring the playing of the National Anthem, while otherplayers stand

A wave of National Anthem protests across the U.S. began when 49er Colin Kaepernick sat down during the pre-game Anthem. Kaepernick and then others switched to kneeling on one knee to protest against "a country that oppresses black people and people of color." An 11% NFL viewership decline was interpreted by some as a reaction to the protests. - Nominated by Todd Davies (Associate Director)

a wall

Cover from the New Yorker magazine Nov. 21, 2016 issue,
showing a brick wall

Across the world, immigration barriers are being raised again as the consequences of globalization have led to a backlash. Donald Trump pledged to "build a great, great wall on our southern border." With many questioning or feeling threatened by the wall rhetoric, it became a symbol of Trump's proposals and the divisions they created and reflected. - Nominated by John Hart (Class of 1997)

gender neutral bathroom signs

A sign depicting different genders, which says
"Gender Neutral Restroom"

Signs identifying restrooms as gender inclusive utilized different designs, but together they symbolized advances in transgender rights in U.S. states such as California, where a new law mandates gender neutrality in single-use bathrooms. The new signs also led to a political backlash against gender neutrality in (and boycotts of) North Carolina. - Nominated by Todd Davies (Associate Director)

variations on "Make America Great Again"

A Republican Convention delegate holds up a sign saying "Make America One Again"

Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan spawned riffing variations, often as critiques or satires. Examples included the history-referencing "Make America Mexico Again" and Ted Cruz's "Make Trump Debate Again" -- both of which were sold as hats -- as well as Toni Morrison's post-election article "Making America White Again". - Nominated by Emily Mandelbaum (Class of 2002)

the safety pin

photo showing a safety pin worn on a jacket lapel

The wearing of a safety pin as a symbol of solidarity with ethnic minorities, migrants, and others began after the Brexit vote in the U.K. in June, and continued in the U.S. following the November election. The pin was said to convey that the wearer would support or help people who felt threatened by the consequences of these elections. - Nominated by Todd Davies (Associate Director)

the Dakota Access Pipeline

a photograph of the Dakota Access Pipeline during groundpreparation

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., began construction on the underground Dakota Access Pipeline through North Dakota in 2016 despite strong objections from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. DAPL became a symbol for the effect of oil extraction on Native people and the environment, drawing international protests that led to a halt on drilling by year end. - Nominated by Todd Davies (Associate Director)

Khizr Khan holding up the U.S. Constitution

Khizr Khan next to his wife
Ghazala at the podium of the Democratic Convention, July 2016,
holding up a pocket U.S. Constitution

Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son Humayun was killed as a U.S. Army captain in the Iraq War, appeared on stage at the Democratic Convention. Addressing Donald Trump via television, Khizr Khan said, "have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy," while holding it aloft. Sales of pocket Constitutions skyrocketed. - Nominated by Parke Bostrom (Class of 1997)

a bottle of water from Flint, Michigan

Someone holds a bottle of dirty

Ryan Garza's photo, published by the Detroit Free Press on January 15, captured a bottle of dirty water from Flint. The bottle and the ongoing Flint water crisis signify a breakdown in government, as well as an inability of media to focus sufficient public attention on important issues that affect people's daily lives. - Nominated by Jimmy Tobin (Class of 2013)

PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter

A drawing of a meter for Truth,
registering "Half-truth"

The Truth-O-Meter is a graphic depiction of the judged truth of stories analyzed by PolitiFact. "Truth" was regularly debated in 2016. Political stories were often contested, from sources with a potential interest in particular outcomes, and/or were outright falsehoods. Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact is a worthy attempt to address this problem. - Nominated by Jed Rose (Class of 2003)

the 2016 U.S. Electoral College map

Map of the United States showing
states colored blue or red to indicate which party gained that
state's electoral votes in 2016

Visualizing a U.S. presidential election by coloring each State blue or red has been common practice since 1976. Such maps may contribute to political polarization, by promoting a false view of states as monolithically blue or red that encourages further sorting of like-minded voters. The red-blue map of the U.S. was once again ubiquitous in 2016. - Nominated by Ian Knight (Class of 2018)

the Poké Ball

The screen icon called the"Poké Ball" - s spherical red and white shape with aschematic eyeball in the middle

A symbol of the location-based game Pokémon Go, which launched in July, the capture device known as the Poké Ball and its variants drew the eyes of hordes of mobile game players who were visible on the streets of cities for a few months in 2016. The Poké Ball heralded a new era of augmented reality in public spaces. - Nominated by Todd Davies (Associate Director)

"This Is Fine" dog

cartoon showing a dog surrounded by
flames, sitting and saying "This is fine."

Two frames from KC Green's webcomic showing a dog who says "This is fine," as he is surrounded by flames, were Tweeted by the Republican Party during the Democratic Convention, and resonated across the parties. Subsequent commentary compared "This Is Fine" to other memes spread through social media. Green followed up with a "This Is Not Fine" comic. - Nominated by Antonio Tan-Torres (Class of 2018) and Jorge Ortiz (Class of 2007)

Hillary Clinton's 2016 Primary campaign logo

Logo showing an H, with blue postsand a red crossbar forming a right-pointing arrow

Hillary Clinton became the first woman Presidential nominee of a major U.S. party, and her 2016 campaign logos reflected some of her campaign's ambiguities.  Versions varied, but her most commonly used logo was controversial within the Democratic Party: Its rightward-pointing red arrow invoked the color and direction associated with Republicans. - Nominated by Deena Weisberg (Class of 2003)

Hamilton musical and logo

The logo for the musical Hamilton, showing a silhouette figure pointing upward and standing on a platform that forms a five-pointed star with the standingfigure

Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton revitalized interest in the U.S.'s founding, shattered records on Broadway, and saved Alexander Hamilton's place on the $10 bill. The Hamilton logo evoked the Statue of Liberty, reflecting the musical's elevation of Alexander Hamilton as a symbol for immigrants, New York City, and historical ambition. - Nominated by Reid Hoffman (Class of 1989)

the pantsuit

many images of Hillary Clinton
wearing pantsuits

With Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy, the pantsuit became a symbol of women leveling the playing field with men. In the days leading up to the election, a Facebook group called "Pantsuit Nation" was created, growing rapidly to nearly 3 million members, many of whom donned pantsuits when they went to the polls to cast their ballots. - Nominated by Joanna Salgado Liwanag (Class of 1997)

the White Helmets

Logo for the White Helmets (SCD)organization showing a white helmet surrounded by a circle

White Helmets are a symbol of (and alternative name for) Syrian Civil Defense (SCD), a Western-funded nongovernmental organization that operates amidst the war in rebel-controlled Syria. SCD's stated mission is "to save the greatest number of lives in the shortest possible time and to minimize further injury to people and damage to property." - Nominated by Sunshine Weiss Pooley (Class of 1997)

the glass ceiling

Artistic depiction of a glass
ceiling that prevents women, but allows men, to ascend

The glass ceiling is a symbol for invisible barriers that exist to the advancement of women and minorities in organizations. In 2016 Hillary Clinton often referred to the Presidency of the United States as the "highest, hardest glass ceiling." Ironically, she held her election night party at New York's Javits Center, under a transparent ceiling. - Nominated by Alexandra To (Class of 2014)

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