CultureHISORY: Las Mulatas de Fuego, Havana, Cuba c. 1950s
That is, I stop to look where texts take tropes like women-as-flowers, women-as-water, women-as-sugar cane, invented to justify keeping Caribbean women and territories in someone else’s control, and redeploy these same tropes to imagine a landscape belonging to Caribbean women and Caribbean women belonging to each other.
Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha. Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010, 2. (via qswg)
you learn the curses and then the prayers
my mom on learning creole (via westindianheaux)
I wanted to lay next to my greatgreatgrandmother, and listen to her speak to me. So, I put on red lipstick and beveled my hair, tying the curls with two cream satin ribbons.
I looked in the mirror.
She was regal, covered with lace and lips laced with arsenic and enough to make all of the men in Santiago crawl to her feet. Her skin was a shade of black that even the earth envied.
She said to me, You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one lover to the next.
I watched the ribbons slip off my head and I came back into myself, alone. My lips tasted like generations of broken men.
Quien no tiene de congo tiene de carabalí.
Culturally, at the very least.
People often say ‘stop being angry and educate us’, not understanding that the anger is part of the education.
Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Otis Span and others (1965) by Jim Marshall
PRAISES AND ACCOLADES. ALL PRAISES AND ACCOLADES DUE.
The ‘others’ are Luther Johnson, Francis Clay and Sammy Lawhorn. Heavy hitters and major players in their own right. We should know their names.
“This is only a preliminary warning,” is how Etienne Lero opened his 1932 “Legitime Defense Manifesto” for the publication bearing the same name. And since that declaration, black surrealism has been a clarion call for the some, while a cause for alarm for many others.
What Black, Brown and Beige does, through an exhaustive compilation of poetry and prose spanning over continents, decades, and other movements; is not so much re-write a history, as reclaim it.
“Surrealism,” Rosemont says, “ – an open realism – signifies more reality and an expanded awareness of reality, including aspects and elements of the real that are ordinarily overlooked, dismissed, excluded, hidden, shunned, suppressed, ignored, forgotten or otherwise neglected.” Though the journey is far from easy – the road as fraught with as many phantoms as a Toni Morrison novel, with maps and documents buried in oblivion – the book serves as skeletal remains resurrecting themselves upon each new discovery.
Like Simone Yoyotte, the first black woman surrealist. Born in Martinique, dying in Paris at the age of twenty two, whose small, but powerful contributions to Legitime Defense, the Paris Surrealist Group, and the journal Le Surrealisme au Service de la Revolution, show glimmers of genius and surreal genesis as one of the early proponents of the automatic writing technique and expression of an unapologetic black aesthetic. Her poem “Pyjama-Speed,” written with this technique, evokes luxury, terror, and homeland in only a few esoteric lines: “My pyjamas gilt and embroidered/with myself (spear) and worst of all gilt with azure/my pyjamas balsam hammer gilt with azure…”