Who Were The Social Justice Winners And Losers Of 2015?

Your pro-social year in review, starring Amber Rose, Bernie Sanders, Rowan Blanchard and more...

2015 was a year of empowering words and actions for the social justice community and also a year that revealed some of the absolute #worst the world has to offer.

In just 12 months, we've had some great conversations about what it means to treat one another with dignity and respect and how we can better pursue a world where equality is a reality -- and not just an idea we pay lip-service to. Here's just a few of the stand-out social justice BAEs that have made us scream "Yaaas" into our computer screens all year and a few of the folks who could use some serious improvement.

Rookie Of The Year: Rowan Blanchard.

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Rowan Blanchard

The "Girl Meets World" actress has been giving our feminist hearts the swoonies all year. Her command of language and talent for encouraging empathy via her Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram feeds are inspiring as hell -- and she's only 14. It's safe to say we can't wait to see what she'll do in 2016.

MVP (Most Valuable Politician): Justin Trudeau

NYT Video/ MTV


When Canada elected Justin Trudeau as their new Prime Minister, it was super important to look beyond his face (which could launch a thousand Tumblr posts) and examine his politics. Luckily, they were just as dreamy (and, damn, check that gender parity in his cabinet). In particular, his touching message as his country welcomed its first group of refugees -- "You're home. You're safe at home." -- set an example for the whole world, reminding us all that compassionate leadership can prevail. (Also, this.)

Most Likely To Succeed: Amandla Stenberg

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Amandla Stenberg

If you haven't been #educated by Amandla Stenberg in 2015, you must've been living under a rock. But whether she's addressing cultural appropriation or beauty double standards, she's always thoughtful, measured and insightful with her responses. There's one guarantee: You'll get chills whenever this young woman talks.

Forever Young: Bernie Sanders.

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Bernie Sanders Addresses

Bernie Sanders, at 74, has a few years on most of folks on this list, but he's managed to capture the hearts of countless young people and ignite a passionate political fire. His policies of listening to important people in social justice spaces and compassionately embracing all kinds of Americans are just a few of the qualities that make him an honorary millennial and bona fide social justice BAE.

Best Catch Phrase: "Lean the f—k away from me," Jessica Williams

It seems like forever ago that the search for the new host of "The Daily Show" brought out an unfortunate number of hot takes as to whether the phenomenally talented Jessica Williams should get the gig. Most refused to acknowledge that Williams herself did not want the position, and that she deserves to make her own career moves without the public accusing her of "impostor syndrome" or any other trendy behavioral term.

This brought out a poignant line from Williams for those who refuse to just let her live: "I am not yours ... Lean the f--k away from me."

Best Advice Giver: Laura Jane Grace

Laura Jane Grace/Kat Fitzgerald

Laura Jane Grace

Laura Jane Grace quickly became our honorary rock star older sister when she gave some straight-up punk advice for trans youth struggling with bullies: "Take no shit." Though she admits it can be difficult, it's hard not to believe there's hope when she says, "no matter what, just keep going for it and keep standing up for yourself.”

Most Likely To Make You Feel Great About Your Bod: Meghan Tonjes

When Meghan Tonjes responds to body shame f--kery, she hits you hard in the feelings and the brain. Whether it was explaining the garbage of hate-mongering videos or pointing out the fallacy of body image double standards, Tonjes totally killed it this year. (Unrelated: Have you HEARD her Adele cover?)

MVB (Most Valuable BAE): Jesse Williams

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The Weinstein Company'

The only thing more dreamy about your Shondaland boyfriend Jesse Williams' eyes is his brain. If you haven't taken the time out to peruse his Twitter feed and the several essays he's tweeted out about police brutality and privilege, go forth and do so now. You're welcome.

Ally Of The Year: Matt McGorry

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Matt McGorry, of "Orange Is The New Black" and "How To Get Away With Murder" fame, is a great example of a person with privilege being an outspoken advocate in a movement without speaking over or stepping on oppressed people's toes. Just check his work with anti-sexual assault group It's On Us, or his quick and dirty shut-down of statements like "all lives matter." He's a good egg. While no one deserves a cookie for being a good person, it helps to know that McGorry wouldn't want one anyway.

Most Notorious: Donald Trump



No one could make it through their Facebook or Twitter feeds in 2015 without a glimpse of that #iconic combover. Donald Trump, without question, hijacked the 2016 election coverage from his first WTF-announcement to his, uh, most recent WTF announcement. While he's certainly no friend to the social justice fam, his words have encouraged us to come together to combat bigotry, Islamophobia and hate more than ever. (#H8ersAreOurMotiv8ers.)

Most Necessary Twitter Follow: DeRay McKesson & Johnetta Elzie.

Screenshots via Twitter

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Activists in the 21st century have social media down to a science. They know the best news sources, leaders, shakers and movers and are able to fill your feed with the ~fires of revolution~ in under 140 characters. But Mckesson (@DeRay) and Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) have managed to epitomize everything that's great about social media organizing. Their feeds are personal and full of poignant observations, thought-provoking news stories and, naturally, some live-tweeting. If you're passionate about racial justice and social change, they are two people you need to know.

Most Likely To Get Blocked On Twitter: Martin Shrkeli.

Oh, Martin. The story of your life is essentially the plot of a Disney movie where the heroes are animals. (One guess at who the villain is.) Your decision to significantly jack up the prices of a life-saving drugs to build your fortune was bad enough, but your social media presence stands out as one of the least self-aware and most painful to witness of the year. That's an epic feat.

Biggest Shame Slayer: Amber Rose.

Larry Busacca/Getty

Blac Chyna (L) and Amber Rose

Amber Rose herself has said she'd experienced a real ~feminist awakening~ in 2015 and we've had such a blast being along for the ride. Watching her pop-off at the "slut"-shamers and haters of the world made her look like a seasoned pro in the feminist world. Best of all? She's using her superstar platform to do amazing things.

Most Satisfying Clap-Back: "Miley, what's good?"



Nicki Minaj cemented her status as the Keeper of All Receipts in 2015 when she took to the VMA stage to address a slight by host Miley Cyrus. In a New York Times interview earlier that week, Miley dismissed Minaj's (extremely valid) commentary on race in the music industry with some tone-policing words about how she "isn't polite."

And, with just three words -- "Miley, what's good?" -- Nicki drew even more attention to her message and proved she wouldn't be silenced. It was the clap-back heard 'round the world and ooh, did it feel good.