Tattoos or Body Art has evolved as a type of self expression - many black women paint their bodies in an attempt to beautify themselves in various ways. However some simply view this as another type of mutilation, others believe that tattoos are just a cry for attention, a rebellion against society, or a way to hide who you truly are. Some will say you get tattoos in order to be different, yet others will claim you are just trying to fit in with all of the other tattooed people. Yet others see the beauty in it and view it as a fine work of art.
This new trend in Body Art is placed in enduring places on the body including the cleavage, the lower back the side of the body from the hips to the thighs. Gone are the days when tattoos were merely faces and names of loved ones. Many women are using their body as a canvas to promote the work of talented tattoo artists. This new type of Body Art is somewhat captivating and appears to have become more and more acceptable by society, today one in five Americans have some sort of tattoo.
Many female celebrities have joined the trend, the most popular among them being Rhianna, Angelina Jolie, Amber Rose and Fantasia from American Idol fame; but still the vast majority has stayed clear of them. And though society is somewhat tolerant, the corporate world is yet to view visible tattoos as part of acceptable business attire. If you chose to become tatted you are announcing to the world that you only interested in pursuing certain occupations, those specific to the arts and entertainment or entrepreneurial.
The larger non-tatted society inevitably become the judge, they get to draw the distinction between artistry and pure ludicrousy. And if you end up on the wrong side their expressed opinions, you will need a great deal of self confidence to bear with scorned body art, which as it stands today is largely irreversible.
“The only difference between tattooed people and non tattooed people is that tattooed people don't care if you're not tattooed.”
We must acknowledge that though this is seldom highlighted and celebrated on the world stage, the black girl is beautifully created. The slave masters couldn't keep their hands off of us, though we were heavily ridiculed in public, they were sneaking to the back to take advantage of our exotic fruit. In celebration of Black History month, the black girl must take her place as the first queen. The black woman cannot be ignored. This piece is intended to celebrate the various unique features of the black girl, don't let any one tell you about your black, because......................
Generally large and subtle, you have never been kissed if not by a black girl.....
Broad, flat, pugs, straight, but definitely making a bold statement.......
Look into my full bright eyes - they are the windows to my soul ...........
Hips, tits and many many asses, coco cola bottle shaped, full figured fluffy divas. Black girls truly have it all..............................
Shaped in a variety of textures and styles. I don't need makeup or jewelry, my hair is my accessory....................
I come in many many shades and tones, my black is truly very amazing. Free your mind and make it your life's goal to reach your level of blackness and flaunt for the whole world to see. Because your black is beautiful.
In celebration of Martin Luther King's Earth Day and Black History month, FJN would like to honor some of the greatest black women in history. These are women that are seldom celebrated because they are largely in the shadows of the men that they love and support unconditionally. However, we believe these women have made great contributions to the liberation struggle, therefore we humbly pay tribute to these strong black women.
Queen Nanny of the Maroons (1685-1755)
Queen Nanny of the Maroons has largely been ignored by historians who have restricted their focus to male figures in Maroon history (Cudjoe, Accompong, Cuffee and Quaco). Therefore, much of what is known about Nanny comes from oral history as little textual evidence exists. However, Nanny is held up as the most important figure in Maroon history. Queen Nanny is presumed to have been born around the 1680’s in Africa’s Gold Coast (now known as Ghana). She was reported to belong to either the Ashanti or Akan tribe and is said to be of royal African blood. She was said to be married to a man named Adou, but had no children.
Queen Nanny was the spiritual, cultural and military leader of the Windward Maroons and her importance stems from the fact that she guided the Maroons through the most intense period of their resistance against the British, between 1725 and 1740. Nanny's Maroons employed clever strategies which led repeated success in battles with the British, she was a master of guerilla warfare and trained Maroon troops in the art of camouflage. Nanny’s Maroons raided plantations and would then burn the estates and carry off arms, food and captives whom they set free. For over 30 years, Nanny freed more than 800 slaves, and helped them to resettle in the Maroon community. Queen Nanny is credited with being the single figure who united the Maroons across Jamaica and played a major role the preservation of African culture and knowledge
1. The government of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a National Heroine in 1976. Her portrait graces the $500 Jamaican dollar bill, which is colloquially referred to as a "Nanny".
Ø Nanny's Monument is located in Moore Town, Portland, Jamaica.
Ø Nannyville Gardens, a residential community located in Kingston, Jamaica was founded in 1977.
Ø The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University uses Nanny's portrait in its logo. The Center sponsors research and conferences on slavery in the Americas.
The Maroons were defiant Jamaican slaves who fled their oppressive existence on plantations and formed their own communities in the rugged, hilly interior of the island. They were considered skilled fighters and hard to defeat. The Maroons mainly consisted of people from the Akan region of West Africa, the Ashanti tribe. However, slaves originating from other regions of West Africa joined the Maroons in their escapes. For over 150 years, the Maroons helped to free slaves from the plantations whilst they damaged land and property belonging to the plantation owners.
Winnie Mandela “"Mother of the Nation”
After Nelson Madela’s release in 1990, crowds flocked to see him, the person they considered the hero of South African anti-apartheid politics. What this crowd was likely not to know was Winnie’s activist work, her leadership and her outspoken opposition to white minority rule played an equal role in the anti-apartheid campaign.
Born Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela on September 26, 1936, in Bizana, a rural village in the Transkei district of South Africa, Winnie Mandela eventually moved to Johannesburg in 1953 to study at the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work. South Africa was under the system known as apartheid, where citizens of indigenous African descent were subjected to a harsh caste system in which European descendants enjoyed much higher levels of wealth, health and social freedom. Winnie met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957. The couple married in 1958 and had two daughters, Zenani (born 1959) and Zindzi (born 1960). Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1963 and released in 1990. The couple separated in 1992 and finalized their divorce in 1996.
Winnie is at best portrayed as an appendage to the great man; at worst, a harmful and evil influence on the liberation struggle. The fact is that, for South African women, Winnie's role was more fundamental than her husband's. Winnie was largely responsible for perpetuating Nelson's image as the embodiment of the liberation struggle. More importantly, Winnie suffered, not only because of Nelson's incarceration, but also through her own constant arrests and torture. She was regularly detained by the apartheid government. She was tortured, subjected to house arrest, kept under surveillance, held in solitary confinement for a year then later banished to a remote town. But she remained strong as a leading opponent of the white minority rule government. Beginning in 1969, she spent eighteen months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. It was at this time that Winnie Mandela became well known in the West. She organized local clinics, campaigned actively for equal rights and was promoted by the ANC as a symbol of its struggle against apartheid. Winnie held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women's League and is a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee.
Amy Jacques Garvey (1896-1973)
Amy Jacques Garvey, second wife of Marcus Garvey, did not derive her legitimacy from the status of her husband. She was a leading Pan-Africanist and Black Nationalist in her own right. Always advancing the cause of black liberation, she played influential roles in the movement as journalist, feminist and race activist.
Born Amy Euphemia Jacques Garvey in 1895 in Kingston, Jamaica, she was the eldest child of George Samuel and Charlotte Henriett Jacques. She was raised in a middle class home and was among a minority of young people to attend high school at that time. She moved to the USA in 1917 where she encountered the charismatic Marcus Garvey, who was the driving force for the movement instilling race pride and seeking race redemption for people of African descent. The United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) galvanized and energized Black people from Harlem, USA, to Capetown, South Africa. The couple married in 1922 and thereafter they both personified the movement.
In 1919, she became the Secretary General of the UNIA, a post she held for over half a century proselytizing and propagating Garvey's philosophy of black consciousness, self-help and economic independence. From 1924 to 1927, she was the associate editor of the UNIA's newspaper, The Negro World, where she advanced her feminist/nationalist ideas with the inauguration of a new page entitled "Our Women and What They Think." While her husband was in prison on charges of mail fraud in connection with Black Star Line, she acted as his personal representative, rallying to his defense, making speeches to the branches of the UNIA and lobbying for his release. In order to raise funds for his defense, she published two volumes of Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, a collection of his speeches and writings.
After Garvey’s release from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, Amy returned to Jamaica with him. They subsequently toured England, France and Germany, all the while continuing her writing as contributing editor of The Negro World. After Garvey's death in 1940, Amy continued the struggle for Black Nationalism, becoming contributing editor to The African, a journal published in Harlem in the 1940s, and founding the African Study Circle of the World in Jamaica toward the end of the decade. In 1944, she wrote her outstanding piece, "A Memorandum Correlative of Africa, West Indies and the Americas", which she sent to representatives of the UN pressing them to adopt an African Freedom Charter. In 1963, she published her own book, Garvey and Garveyism, and later published two collections of essays, Black Power in America and The Impact of Garvey in Africa and Jamaica.
On July 25, 1973, Amy Jacques Garvey died as she lived, active in the struggle for black empowerment and liberation
Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)
Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She established a distinguished career in activism in her own right.
Coretta Scott King was born Coretta Scott on April 27, 1927, in Marion, Alabama. She attended Lincoln High School, graduating 1945, and then enrolled at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she received a BA in music and education. After graduating from Antioch, Coretta began taking courses at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she earned her second collegiate degree, in voice and violin, in the early 1950s. It was while she was attending the Conservatory of Music that Coretta met her future husband, Martin Luther King Jr., the famed civil rights leader who, at the time, was studying theology at Boston University. The couple married on June 18, 1953, and soon moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where King served as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and Coretta, subsequently, oversaw the various tasks of a pastor's wife. The Kings had four children Yolanda Denise King (1955–2007), Martin Luther King III (1957), Dexter Scott King (1961), Bernice Albertine King (1963). All four children later followed in their parents' footsteps as civil rights activists.
Working side-by-side with her husband throughout the 1950s and '60s, Coretta took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, journeyed to Ghana to mark that nation's independence in 1957, traveled to India on a pilgrimage in 1959 and worked to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, among other civil-rights-related work. Though best known for working alongside her husband, Coretta established a distinguished career in activism. Among many roles, she worked as a public mediator and as a liaison to peace and justice organizations. Following her husband's assassination, Coretta continued their work, broadened her focus to include women's rights, LGBT rights, economic issues, world peace, and various other causes. She founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, based in Atlanta, Georgia, serving as the center's president and chief executive officer from its inception. In 1980, a 23-acre site around Martin Luther King 's birthplace was designated for use by the King Center. The following year, a museum complex was dedicated on the site. She wrote regular articles on social issues and published a syndicated column, and was also a regular commentator on CNN. During the 1980s, Coretta Scott King reaffirmed her long-standing opposition to apartheid, participating in a series of sit-in protests in Washington, D.C. that prompted nationwide demonstrations against South African racial policies.
1. She received honorary degrees from many institutions, including Princeton University, Duke University, and Bates College. She was honored by both of her alma maters in 2004, receiving a Horace Mann Award from Antioch College and an Outstanding Alumni Award from the New England Conservatory of Music.
2. In 1970, the American Library Association began awarding a medal named for Coretta Scott King to outstanding African-American writers and illustrators of children's literature.
3. In 1978, Women's Way awarded King with their first Lucretia Mott Award for showing a dedication to the advancement of women and justice.
4. In 1997, Coretta Scott King was the recipient of the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award.
5. In 2004, Coretta Scott King was awarded the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize by the Government of India.
6. In 2006, the Jewish National Fund, the organization that works to plant trees in Israel, announced the creation of the Coretta Scott King forest in the Galilee region of Northern Israel, with the purpose of "perpetuating her memory of equality and peace", as well as the work of her husband.
7. In 2007, The Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) was opened in Atlanta, Georgia.
8. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 2009.
Menen Asfaw (1891-1962)
Over the years little has been written about the remarkable life of Empress Menen Asfaw , who was the wife of the last reigning Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Sellassie I. However, the citizens of her nation knew Empress Menen for her kindness and humanitarian outreach.
Empress Menen Asfaw, the last Empress consort of Ethiopia was born on March 25, 1891 and was herself of distant imperial lineage. She likely met her future husband at the home of her uncle Lij Iyasu and they immediately made a connection. Her family had earlier arranged for her marriage to another, but seeing the opportunity to establish closer ties with the man who would soon be the next Emperor Lij Iyasu made the arrangements for Menen Asfaw to marry Haile Selassie. The two were wed in early August of 1911. She was 20-years-old and the future Emperor was very impressed by her character and friendly disposition. In time Empress Menen Asfaw would give Emperor Haile Selassie six children; Princess Tenagnework, Prince Asfaw Wossen, Princess Tsehai, Princess Zenebework, Prince Makonnen and Prince Sahle Selassie.
When Haile Selassie became Emperor of Ethiopia his wife was crowned Empress alongside him. As consort, Empress Menen was very active and undertook a number of charitable duties focused on women, children and religious issues. She served as patroness of the Ethiopian Red Cross and the Ethiopian Women’s Charitable Organization. She also served as patroness of the Jerusalem Society which organized pilgrimages for Ethiopians to the Holy Land. Empress Menen was active in promoting women's issues in Ethiopia. She founded the Empress Menen School for Girls in Addis Ababa, the first all-girls school which had both boarding and day students. Girls from all over the Empire were brought to the school to receive a modern education, encouraged by the Empress who visited it often and presided over its graduation ceremonies. The Empress gave generously, as well as sponsored programs for the poor, ill and disabled. She was also a devoutly religious woman who did much to support the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. She built, renovated and endowed numerous churches in Ethiopia and in the Holy Land.
Following her death in 1962, the Empress was buried in the crypt of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Aklilu Hapte-Wold delivered her eulogy paying tribute to her charity, her piety, and her role as advisor and helpmate to the Emperor, as well as her personal kindness and goodness. On the third day memorial and commemoration after the funeral, the Emperor himself paid tribute to his wife by saying that during their five decades of marriage, not once had it been necessary to have a third party mediate between him and his wife, and that their marriage had been one of peace and mutual support.
As the wife of Haile Selassie, Empress Menen is highly venerated by members of the Rastafari movement.
So many women of today are deciding to leave the harsh chemicals of processing and weaving alone. The thought is, have we become a culture filled with women searching to find themselves and being lost and caught up in this hip hop genre as it paints the false imagery of what a black woman should look like. Have we begun to dilute ourselves with a washed out
attempt to recreate our beauty? Can we as women of the descendants of Africa free ourselves to go back to basics; back to the natural and doing it so we can we uncover about unearth ourselves? Who can we be when we take the pressure off ourselves to fit a standard of what beauty is, and is it defined by our hair?
Here are a few personal testimonies by women who decided to make a choice by take a stand to be unique by freeing themselves up to be happy to be nappy!
From Baltimore, MD:
I was tiered of relaxing my hair and wanted to try sumthin different.
From Baltimore, MD:
Relaxing wasn't an
option anymore. So when I cut it all off it was an awakening to be true to myself in all my ways, not just my hair.
From Philadelphia, PA:
13 years in I have to say I
over processed my hair trying to get super straight, then I wore micros and sewn in so much there was no point. I didn't fully embrace the fro until about 7/8 years ago.
From Gwynn Oaks, MD:
I had only use to relax my hair like maaay bee 3 times a year and everyone would say if u can not perm ur hair for 3-5 months at a time whats the point of relaxing it u dont need a relaxer guuurl lol i thought it made me somthing other then what i was but truth is it help me discover who i was and helped bring out the woman who didnt care about long str8 hair i like my messy hair days or just some french braids...iv always admired the erykah badus of the word but never acted on it because i was scard of how ppl would take me...i realized that growing out my relaxer and loveing my natural hair was so much more then just that it became apart of my loving me journey ;-)#beautifulynatural
From Baltimore, MD:
A young lady that I work with kept saying "try it", seeing other women's natural hair kept tempting me. I love the
healthy look and feel. Even with perm my hair has always been very thick and
healthy, but during my stress and grieving from losing my dad on 12-24-12, my edges starting thinning... soooooo As of May 2013 I have not had a perm.
mmmhh needless to say I have quite a way to go, but..I'm happy with my decision. :-)
From New Castle Delaware:
I wanted to see my natural hair.... Hadn't seen it since I was about 7 yrs old.... lol sad but true... Im embracing my naps.
From York, PA:
When I was diagnosed with MS over 10 yrs ago...I stop using all chemicals in my hair. My hair has been so healthy ever since.
from Baltimore, MD:
I was going through a mental shift in regard to what I thought was beautiful. And I was at a place of self-discovery. I had wanted to give it a try for years and finally had the courage. I had no idea how powerful the journey would be (way beyond just my hair) and all that it would actually entail. I'm very glad that I did, never crossing back over. #almost8yearsin #teamkinky
from Newark, DE:
I got let go from the last day job that I never really wanted. decided to try letting my hair grow to its full potential and stop before I go bald from thining my hair out. I didnt want to be forty with no hair and I said I never to be the old lady hanging on to her wig! I'm loving the process of who a natural and what a natural woman is, shes a different girl who wears the straight Euro. Three years strong. #kinkybynature
From Randallstown, MD:
I colored my hair and it was soooo damaged after color and relaxer.I finally decided to cut it all off! lol
A woman who is a natural beauty
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror – matted hair weave, crumpled fake eyelash, chipped acrylic nails and dried on makeup, do you like what you see? Do you have to run into the bathroom before your man sees you in the morning? Are you able to really enjoy the beach or take a shower with your man? Do you sleep comfortable at night without fear of messing up your hair? You try but you are still unable to find the natural beauty in you. It is sad that you do not see what the rest of the world does - you are beautiful just the way you are. Rethink your strategy and remove that tired disguise and find the beauty in you.
A woman with class
Are you able to get attention without exposure? Can you find an outfit in your closet that does not accentuate your ass or your bust line? Are you invisible to everyone unless you show your tired ass? Rethink your strategy and develop some class. A man won’t bring a hoe home to his mama, reserve that for the bedroom.
A woman who is Independent
Do you find inspiration in anything besides a joint, a drink or getting into the club free before 10:00 PM? Can you think beyond the weekend? Do you imagine a future for yourself besides a man with a nice car? Can you stand on your own two feet and carry your man if he falls? If you haven’t had the dream yet, you are still suffering from the nightmare. Rethink your strategy and try to channel your energy into having the dream.
A woman who is about her life
Are you nearing 40 and still stuck in the same tired apartment? Dragging your dirty clothes to the laundry every weekend? Building instead of breaking the cycle of debt that has engulfed you for most of your life. Are you a name brand whore, wrapped in Channel, Gucci and Versace but only having $20 in your bank account? You have champagne taste on a beer budget. A good man can see right through that unoriginal tired act. Rethink your strategy and be your own brand.
A woman who is smart and can hold her own
Do you have any idea what is happening in the world around you? Do you own a book? Are you able to carry on an intelligent conversation about something other than “What your girlfriend is saying about your other girlfriend and her man”? Rethink your strategy and raise your awareness, you do not know this yet but life is slowly passing you by.
A good man wants a woman who reeks of self confidence and swag. One who not only has the dream but who is reaching for the stars. One who can brace him when he stumbles and catch him when he falls? One who has the hindsight to see beyond the present. One who lives in such a way that sets a great example for the children of their future.
Saartje Baartman was a Khoisian woman from South Africa, Khosian are the original inhabitants of southern Africa. The Khoisan, pejoratively referred to as the Hottentots, are honey-colored and steatopygic—that is, fat is stored in their buttocks. Europeans viewed the latter feature to be an abnormality and an attestation of racial inferiority. Saartje was born in 1789; she was a member of the Khoikhoi community.
In 1810 English doctor on a ship, William Dunlop, met her and convinced her to travel to Europe with him. She agreed and Dunlop took her with him to Europe where she was put on display for others to view and given the name “The Hottentot Venus.” She was exhibited as a freak and, in the process, juxtaposed against white ideals of superiority and sexuality. Her body shape and size was seen as oddly disfigured by Europeans and Dunlop. The reality was that her body shape and size were very much characteristics of her being a member of her community and thus not that odd.
Prancing in the nude, with her jutting posterior and extraordinary genitals, she provided the foundation for racist and pseudo-scientific theories regarding black inferiority and black female sexuality. Saartje's predicament embodied issues of racism, sexism and colonialism. The shows involved Saartje being "led by her keeper and exhibited like a wild beast, being obliged to walk, stand or sit as ordered."
Saartje's predicament drew the attention of a young Jamaican, Robert Wedderburn, who agitated against slavery and racism. Subsequently, his group pressured the attorney general to stop this circus. Losing the case on a technicality, Saartje spent four years in London and then went to Paris where she was exhibited in a travelling circus, and seen frequently controlled by an animal trainer in the show.
She was horribly poor so she turned to prostitution and fell ill and died in 1816. Almost immediately following her death, her body cast in wax, dissected and the skeleton articulated. Her organs, including her genitals and brains, were preserved in bottles of formaldehyde. Her remains were displayed at the Musée de L'Homme in Paris until 1974.
In post-apartheid South Africa, efforts were made to retrieve Saartje's remains. In 1994, then-President Nelson Mandela appealed to his French counterpart, but it was not until 2002 that the French Senate approved a bill for repatriation of Saartje's remains to South Africa.
In May 2002, her remains were brought home to South Africa after nearly 200 years of humiliation and abuse. In August 2002, she was finally laid to rest in the Eastern Cape.
Black women today unlike Saartje Baartman, put themselves on display for the rest of the world to ridicule. They subscribe to the white ideas of superiority by replacing “naturality” with weaves, acrylic nails, blue contact lenses and numerous bleaching creams.
The more things change, the more it appears it has remained the same, rest in peace Saartje Baartman.
Black men worship at thy virginal shrine of truest love,
Because in thine eyes are virtue’s steady and holy mark,
As we see in no other, clothed in silk or fine linen,
From ancient Venus, the Goddess, to mythical Helen.
When Africa stood at the head of the elder nations,
The Gods used to travel from foreign lands to look at thee
On couch of costly Eastern materials, all perfumed,
Reclined thee, as in thy path flow’rs were strewn-sweetest that bloomed.
Thy transcendent marvelous beauty made the whole world mad,
Bringing Solomon to tears as he viewed thy comeliness;
Anthony and the elder Ceasars wept at thy royal feet,
Preferring death than to leave thy presence, their foes to meet.
You, in all ages, have attracted the adoring world,
And caused many a bloody banner to be unfurled
You have sat upon exalted and lofty eminence,
To see a world fight in your ancient African defense.
Today you have been dethroned, through the weakness of your men,
While, in frenzy, those who of yore craved your smiles and your hand-
Those who were all monsters and could not with love approach you-
Have insulted your pride and now attack your good virtue.
Because of disunion you became mother of the world,
Giving tinge of robust color to five continents,
Making a greater world of millions of colored races,
Whose claim to beauty is reflected through our black faces.
From the handsome Indian to European brunette,
There is a claim for that credit of their sunny beauty
That no one can e’er to take from thee, 0 Queen of all women
Who have borne trials and troubles and racial burden.
Once more we shall, in Africa, fight and conquer for you,
Restoring the pearly crown that proud Queen Sheba did wear
Yea, it may mean blood, it may mean death; but still we shall fight,
Bearing our banners to Vict’ry, men of Africa’s might.
Superior Angels look like you in Heaven above,
For thou art fairest, queen of the seasons, queen of our love
No condition shall make us ever in life desert thee,
Sweet Goddess of the ever green land and placid blue sea
Okay so I spent over an hour watching this video, it is only 46 minutes long but I was so fascinated with the footage that I kept rewinding in awe then in panic and then in horror. At the end of the day I think I was looking for the unspoken word. What the interviewer and commentators are not saying but what we are all thinking is that these people are “hella” ugly!! They are ugly, ugly, ugly – let me be the first to state the obvious. I refuse to sugar coat.
I grew up watching my aunt and cousin tone their skin with “Ambi” and even at this early stage in the development of the skin bleaching epidemic, I knew it was not a good thing. . My aunt and cousin, though the darker than the rest of my family, were beauty queens compared to us. I always wondered why they did not see the beauty in themselves the way others saw them. Luckily the practice did not have such a dramatic impact on their appearance - it did not alter their skin to the degree of distorting their face. But it speaks to the level of self hate that they must have been experiencing at the time.
My mother often warned me against imparting any kind of judgment on them. She felt that since we had a lighter skin tone, we could not possibly understand. I am staying true to my mother’s feelings, I will not judge others. But I am still going to call out the elephant in the room. I am still going to point out the obvious. These people are damn ugly and need to get their life.
The moral of this story is while it is my hope that every little black girl will stay true to herself, because I believe there is great beauty in each and every-one of us. If you are going to make any changes to your appearance, if you are going to ruin the gift of “black”, you should at least be making an improvement.
I am 'High Yellow" among Americans and "Red" or "Browning" among Jamaicans. I don't subscribe to one or the other but I take no offense to either. I have very negroid features, flat nose, large lips, wide eyes and very woolly hair. I describe myself as an African, a black girl.
I do not consider myself 'mixed" despite my light skin tone. And even if I were to allocate one half, one quarter or one tenth of myself to any race other than black I probably would never acknowledge it.
As far as I know, the color comes from my mother's side of the family, her father who I have never met or seen any photographic evidence of. This is the side that never accepted my grandmother's dark skin and chose not to acknowledge my mother and her siblings as relatives or actually even as human beings.
It seems my grandfather, probably by design, have managed to somehow erase himself from all but the memory of his second family. His first family consisted of a wife and children from his own race. Therefore, I don't know what I may be mixed with, I am not investigating it and I actually could not care less about it. I do not choose to define myself by a second race that does not want me, I am choosing to embrace the race that does.
Black people, especially Jamaicans, generally are quick to reveal that they are half Indian, Chinese, Irish, Scottish, Caucasian and the list goes on and on and on. Why do we cling to anything other than simply "black"? The farthest we can separate ourselves from simply being black, that's the road we inevitably choose to follow.
I admit there was a time I used to watch my mother with envy and wonder why I did not inherit her straight nose, thin lips and what I perceived to be better more manageable hair. But as the years passed and my mother became my friend, she revealed that she too had harbored great envy for my curves, my unusually large butt, my thick wavy hair that did not fall out by the touch and my larger than life lips. Her revelation allowed me to see great beauty in myself and she too experienced the same. I was no longer intimidated or afraid of the words "Black" or "African".
“The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.” says the Honorable Marcus Garvey.
I cannot pass judgement on the many black people that chose to embrace their mixed heritage, I am not familiar with any one else's story, I can only share my own. And I will not play the role of judge, jury and executioner. I can only say that when I look at President Obama, Tiger Woods etc - I, much like the rest of the non-black world see simply a "black" man. When I look at Halle Berry, Mariah Carey etc - I, much like the rest of the non-black world see simply a "black" woman.
This is how one women defines herself and her daughter, I copied this from a mixed girl blog. "I'm 1/2 black 1/4 Italian 1/4 white and my daughter is 1/2 black 1/3 Mexican, Italian and white!" Determining the exact fraction of your "mixage" is obviously not a scientific process. But if you have to mathematically define yourself, you obviously have serious issues with your identity - call it a crisis.
It really does not seem to matter what your percentages of a second race is, if you have striking black features - the world does not defne you as mixed, the world sees you as simply "black" no matter how you define yourself. And if you are black, you are undoubtedly African no matter what you chose to accept.
“So don't care where you come from As long as you're a black man, you're an African. No mind your nationality. You've got the identity of an African.” says the legendary Peter Tosh.
Therefore at the end of the day, it really is about confidence in yourself no matter who you are, where you were born or what others perceive you to be.
“If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won before you have started.” says the Honorable Marcus Garvey.
So it begs the question - Black girl, how do you define you?
Finally Mama Africa has arrived and is making bold impacts on the run way which was long dominated by “the skinny white girl” in dots and stripes. Little black girls are donning the covers of major magazines, “they still skinny but it’s all good – we gonna be grateful for what we have accomplished and just tek it one step at a time”. But the African influence on the current fashion scene is breath taking - the bold colors, the tribal prints, the wonderful cuts – it’s a cutting edge spin on the fashion industry. We are tired of these so called designers, re-cycling the same look year after year. How many times are they going to re-introduce us to the palazza pants, the tuxedo pants, the midriff and the boyfriend shirt (jacket or jeans)? Lawks, wi tiad a dem! Can we see originality for a change? Can we take stock of other cultures besides American and European please?
African inspired fashion is all the rage now, so much so that African fashion week is actually held in all major cities around the world, including New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Old School fashion designers such as Kofi Ansah, Joyce Ababio, Abba Folawiyo, Olujimi King paved the way for the many new schools like Deola Sagoe, Aisha Obuobi, Ozwald Boateng, Duro Olowu and Lisa Folawiyo. Today, Deola Sagoe and Duro Oluwo have created a reputation for themselves in the fashion industry so much that Lydia Hearst and Anika Noni-Rose have been spotted wearing their ingenious designs. Duro Oluwo’s impeccable designs have even won the heart of the first lady Michelle Obama. Ghanaian designer, Aisha Obuobi who is not only in the business of making clothes, has also recreated African accessories and jewelries. Her recent feat being the Vibe magazine shoots which had Alicia Keys wearing one of her spectacular necklaces.
These African designers have not only inspired themselves but have also inspired international designers and clothing lines. Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Eley Kishimoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thakoon, Louis Vuitton, Diane Von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani, Dries van Noten, Kenzo and Paul Smith to mention a few have also caught the African prints fever. They have included them in their collections and have made clothes, accessories and jewelry out of the fabrics. Celebrities and public figures are loving and wearing African Designs, fashion icons like Beyoncé, Fergie and Rihanna have been seen rocking these prints.
But its more than just fashion isn’t it? It’s about restoring our image. It’s about letting the world know that beauty is not just “dull and faded” but “bright and bold”. It’s really about reversing what we have been forced to accept for so long. It’s so every little black girl will know to accept the uniqueness of her culture, heritage and history.
Mama Africa; stand-up, we see you…………..
The Black Woman by Marcus Garvey
Black queen of beauty, thou hast given color to the world!
Among other women thou art royal and the fairest!
Like the brightest of jewels in the regal diadem,
Shin’st thou, Goddess of Africa, Nature’s purest emblem!