Another year, another TIME 100 list, and for everything this country has been through over the past year, the 2017 edition is surprisingly positive. The collection of people and public figures the magazine selected this year is so inclusive across the board, especially in the categories heavily populated by musicians and actors. In fact, how progressive the 2017 TIME 100 list is when it comes to entertainers serves as proof that progress is still happening, even if it's taking place in Hollywood instead of the political world.
Since Donald Trump took office this January, the world — and the state of America — have both seemed pretty bleak. Women, immigrants, people of color, and those in the LGBT community are now at risk of having certain rights stripped from them, and although I know I am better off as a white woman, I still live in fear myself. Sometime in the next few years, will congress pass a law that tells me what I can and cannot do with my body? What will having a president who doesn't seem to respect women mean for me?
But even though this can be a difficult and scary time, as we all head to an unpredictable future together, there's one thing that's for sure: There is still progress being made, even if it's not in the White House.
While Trump and some members of his inner circle are also included on the list for being influential, they are outnumbered by others, including numerous entertainers, many of whom are widely known for fighting for progress and equality. Although the short essays about these figures are definitely worth reading, just a quick glimpse at the list itself shows how many women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community are being recognized for their achievements this year. The names of incredible, inspiring people can be found in every category, like Ava DuVernay, Riz Ahmed, RuPaul, and Samantha Bee, and they aren't all white or men — not by a long shot.
In Meryl Streep's essay about Viola Davis, she points out how important her success is to women of color, and when Lena Dunham writes about Constance Wu from Fresh Off The Boat, she commends her for standing up to men in Hollywood who abuse their power. If you need to be uplifted, read these essays — they can be a great source of comfort about how much we actually have accomplished.
And it's not just the TIME 100 list where this kind of improvement is happening. This year's Oscars was far less white than in years past; seven actors of color were nominated in comparison to 2016's zero, and Moonlight took home the award for Best Picture. We still have a long way to go, of course, but all the time, we're making steps as a society in the right direction, and looking to films and TV for proof of this is a welcome escape from the pessimistic news cycle.
Reading the news these days is pretty scary, between the refugee ban and how unpredictable our newest president can be. But if you feel that way, remember you're not alone — and that progress hasn't come to a total halt. Things are improving, people are out there working toward making our country and world more inclusive and accepting, and the fight is more important now than ever.