I swear to god bruh
Let me catch you in the streets
Bruh I swear to god
Still funny as hell
“Known as the Motorcycle Queen of Miami, Bessie Stringfield started riding when she was 16. She was the first African-American woman to travel cross-country solo, and she did it at age 19 in 1929, riding a 1928 Indian Scout. Bessie traveled through all of the lower 48 states during the ’30s and ’40s at a time when the country was rife with prejudice and hatred. She later rode in Europe, Brazil, and Haiti and during World War II she served as one of the few motorcycle despatch riders for the United States military.”
First, an image by Ricardo Cortés, 2014, from “The Act of Whitening”:
For Kara Walker’s first large-scale public project, A Subtlety…, presented by Creative Time at Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory, Creative Time Reports features poetry, prose and illustrations related to central themes of Walker’s exhibition. Here, writer and illustrator Ricardo Cortés presents a series of drawings referencing the slave labor central to sugar’s historic manufacture.
One inspiration undoubtedly came from Edward King, The Great South (Hartford, Conn., 1875), p. 83. According to The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record, this lithograph,
Shows the reaping of the sugar cane; [B]lack fieldworkers, white overseer. Original sketch made by J. Wells Chamney who accompanied the author during 1873 and the spring and summer of 1874; the latter describes this plantation on pp. 82-83. Although relating to the post-emancipation period, the scene evokes the later antebellum years.
Haitian Vodou is a religion that is very misunderstood. Slaves were brought to the Caribbean against their will and forbidden to practice their traditional African religions as well as forced to convert to the religion of their masters. The Bond movie/Eurocentric/Americanized viewpoint presents Vodou as an evil, primitive version of witchcraft. But it’s a religion like any other, with a moral code, gods and goddesses. Many ceremonies deal with protection from evil spirits.
In addition, the “voodoo doll” itself has been misconstrued. In Haiti, it was traditional to nail small handmade puppets or dolls to trees near graveyards; these small figures were meant to act as messengers to the spirit world, and contact dead loved ones. It’s safe to imagine that European folks didn’t understand this — and assumed an evil intent behind a doll with nails in its body.
Dodai Stewart, Deconstructing Florence + The Machine’s New Racist Video (via yyytsirk)
Black is the queen of colors.
Auguste Rodin (via thecolorblu)
Valeria Perojo Frias, born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba in 1926. Photo circa 1940s. This is one of the first pictures I shared on VBG, found via Scott Schuman’s fantastic blog, The Sartorialist. It was submitted by Ms. Frias’s daughter, Ena Frias, and she provided this description to The Sartorialist:
"This is my beautiful mother, Valeria Perojo Frias, born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba on March 23, 1926. This photograph was taken sometime in the mid to late 1940’s. I believe she was at a christening of a friend’s child in Havana. She was an amazing and inspirational woman - making her way to the US with my father by way of Miami in late 1959, and ending up in New York City two years later, where I was born and raised. She was always a fashionista and had that amazing aura that exuded beauty, charm and grace. And boy could she pose for a picture, eh? She always will be my very own personal style icon.”
One of the few things that I disdained while filming the movie was the makeup used to paint the Puerto Ricans the same color. We Sharks were all the same homogenous brown! Our gang, including me, was a uniform tobacco color, and that was just plain wrong and inaccurate. Puerto Ricans, with their varied genetic ancestry – Spanish, Taino Indian, Black, Dutch – are born with a broad palette of skin colors, from outright white to true black.
Rita Moreno on filming West Side Story in her memoir Rita Moreno (via thatsnotwhatiheard)
Dahomey’s Warrior Women
Speaking of West Africa, the Dahomey Warrior Women involves a fascinating history that spans nearly 200 years. It was during this time that the elite squad of female warriors fought and died for the border rights and inter-tribal issues in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey.
These women, who outranked their male counterparts, were given far more privileges, including the ability to come and go from the palaces as they pleased (unlike the men). They were so revered for their warrior prowess, The Smithsonian explains, that men were taught to keep their distance:
“Recruiting women into the Dahomean army was not especially difficult, despite the requirement to climb thorn hedges and risk life and limb in battle. Most West African women lived lives of forced drudgery. Gezo’s female troops lived in his compound and were kept well supplied with tobacco, alcohol and slaves – as many as 50 to each warrior, according to the noted traveler Sir Richard Burton, who visited Dahomey in the 1860s. And “when amazons walked out of the palace,” notes Alpern, “they were preceded by a slave girl carrying a bell. The sound told every male to get out of their path, retire a certain distance, and look the other way.” To even touch these women meant death.”
Yet as colonialist ambitions grew in the region, the Dahomey female warriors eventually grew sparse. Fierce combat missions to crush the independent kingdom eventually succeeded, and in the 1940s, it is said that the last of the female warriors died.
I’ve posted about this incredible military force for 1800s Week previously, and you can read more about women warriors of color in this Masterpost. There’s also Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey by Stanley B. Alpern.
So somebody eplain to me why the hell that book author decided that Greek’s people’s history was needed to legitimate Black people’s lives and accomplishments?!
Dahomey nation is also one of the places in ancient Africa where homosexuality among the women was documented.
Just adding this cause “there was no homosexuality before the white man came” is a popular lie.
Those interested would be better served by checking out Edna G. Bay’s Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey (University of Virginia Press, 1998):
Looking at Dahomey against the backdrop of the Atlantic slave trade and the growth of European imperialism, Edna G. Bay reaches for a distinctly Dahomean perspective as she weaves together evidence drawn from travelers’ memoirs and local oral accounts, from the religious practices of vodun, and from ethnographic studies of the twentieth century. Wives of the Leopard thoroughly integrates gender into the political analysis of state systems, effectively creating a social history of power…[T]he book provides an accessible portrait of Dahomey’s complex and fascinating culture without exoticizing it.
A free preview is here.
Kristine Juncker writes,
Recently, the University Press of Florida posted information online about my first book, Afro-Cuban Religious Arts: Popular Expressions of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería. I began working on the book more than a decade ago. I was drawn to these materials, and particularly the four women about whom I write, because of the ongoing absence of histories of women who shaped the international character of modern and contemporary Latin America…
Tiburcia Sotolongo (1861-1938) was born on a sugar plantation in Havana Province—in an area where slavery did not end until the 1880s. She moved to Havana City during the wars for independence from Spain. There, she supported herself and her four adopted children by working as an Espiritista, or medium, and as a Santera, or priest of Santería.
Hortensia Ferrer (1906-1992) was adopted by Tiburcia Sotolongo and began to assist Tiburcia with her religious work in Havana City. In 1938, she inherited Tiburcia’s practice and extensive network of religious family and clientele.
Iluminada Sierra Ortiz (circa 1918-1981) was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and moved to Havana, Cuba, in the 1930s in order to pursue her dream to be a singer and entertainer. Although she had limited success performing in the entertainment industry, she became an important assistant to Hortensia Ferrer’s religious practices, particularly as a dynamic singer and knowledgeable altar designer…
By Wesner Bazile, Jean Hérard Celeur, and other sculptors of Atis Rezistans:
Grand Rue is the main avenue that runs a north-south swathe through downtown Port au Prince from Bel Air and La Saline to La Cimetière and Carrefour. At the southern end of Grand Rue, amongst the labyrinthine warren of back streets that line the avenue, is an area that traditionally has produced small handicrafts for the ever-diminishing tourism market. This close-knit community is hemmed in on all sides by the makeshift car repair district, which serves as both graveyard and salvation for the cities increasingly decrepit automobiles.
The artists Celeur and Eugène both grew up in this atmosphere of junkyard make-do, survivalist recycling and artistic endeavour. Their powerful sculptural collages of engine manifolds, TV sets, wheel hubcaps and discarded lumber have transformed the detritus of a failing economy into bold, radical and warped sculptures. Their work references their shared African & Haitian cultural heritage, a dystopian sci-fi view of the future and the positive transformative act of assemblage.
The artists from Grand Rue are extending the historical legacy of assemblage to the majority world. Their use of the readymade components are driven by economic necessity combined with creative vision and cultural continuity. Their work is transformative on many different allegorical levels, the transformation of wreckage to art, of disunity to harmony and of three young men, with no formal arts training, to the new heirs of a radical and challenging arts practice that has reached down through both modernist and post-modern arts practice.