Tag Archives: Black History

Here’s Why Refusing to ‘See Color’ Doesn’t Actually Mean You’re Not Racist

26 Jul

Blindfold

Whenever someone says “I don’t see color,” I think back to a time when I didn’t notice it either.

I was a little girl, excited to open Christmas gifts. One Christmas Eve, my parents were wrapping presents while I pretended to be asleep. I peeked through their cracked door as they pulled a life-size Kelly doll out of a box that had shipped earlier that day.

It was exactly what I’d asked for, and I was ecstatic but my parents weren’t pleased. Apparently, this wasn’t the doll they’d meant to order.

This doll was white.

I’d never noticed before that my dolls were a different color from the ones shown in commercials. I understand now that my parents only bought me dolls of color so that I could play with something that looked like me. I understand that they wanted to raise me in a pro-black household where I could love my complexion. But back then, I didn’t care about any of that – I simply wanted the Kelly doll, no matter what color… Read more at Everyday Feminism.

Photo courtesy of Mirko Tobias Schäfer via Flckr.

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Celebrate Black History Month With These Quick Reads

2 Feb

Black History Month

Happy Black History Month!

If you’re like me, you celebrate Black history, present, and future all year. But February is special because the rest of the nation celebrates with us.

Though we all know Stacey Dash will be right around the corner with self-hating, Faux News check-cashing, moronic antics about how celebrating black people is racist *rolls eyes*, we’ll celebrate anyways.

I have a few articles in my editorial calendar to publish for the month of February (Yes, I’m back to blogging regularly), but I had to lead with this link-roundup. Here are some of AWW’s top Black History Month Posts:

So You Haven’t Heard of Afrofuturism?

So you haven’t yet heard of Afrofuturism?

AFROFUTURISM

Please, allow me to upgrade your life to a plateau of awesomeness where time travel is the norm, Androids reign supreme, and Janelle Monáe happily twerks in the mirror wearing, of course, black and white.

Picture a cultural meta-genre that encompasses some of the most incredible artists, musicians, entertainers, filmmakers, philosophers, and scholars—an aesthetic where Octavia Butler, Grace Jones, Janelle Monáe, W.E.B. Dubois, Will Smith, Michael Jackson, and Erykah Badu all take center stage with a common inspiration. Read more…

7 Unexpected Travel Destinations to Learn About the African Diaspora

Globe

After studying abroad in Argentina for several months where black people are few and far between and the porteños point, stare, and want to touch your skin because it’s much darker than their own, I was desperate to find a face that looked like mine. There weren’t many in Buenos Aires, other than the study abroad students like myself and a few Brazilians here and there. However, I did find blackness in the mammy figurines in a few restaurant kitchen windows. This made me curious about the countries past and relationship with people of African descent. Read more…

Uncovering Black History in a Seemingly White Nation

Mammy

On a jog one morning through the streets of Buenos Aires, where I’d been studying abroad, I caught a glimpse of a small black figure in the window of a bakery. I stopped and stared into the window for a while, until one of the workers in the shop came to see what the problem was. I couldn’t explain it to her, because I didn’t think she would have fully understood my feelings of shock and disappointment about the figure. Other than the two I’d traveled to Buenos Aires with, that ceramic mammy was the only black face I’d seen in weeks. Read more…

My Top 10 Novels for Black History Month

Novel image

(Written by incredible women writers)

1.      Beloved (Toni Morrison)

This Nobel Prize winning novel touches on issues of stereotypes in the media, a mothers’ limitless love, and the dehumanizing aspects of middle passage and slavery. A desperate mother slays her daughter in an attempt to escape her slave master; however, the daughter never dies. Her ghost rises and takes on human form to haunt the town. Trust me: “This is not a story to pass on.” Read more…

Enjoy Black History Month.

Photo courtesy of Enokson Flckr.

Columbus Day and the Erasure of Black History

13 Oct

Came Befoe Columbus

We all know Columbus didn’t discover America.

Yet, 522 years later, famous white people still get credit for the accomplishments of folks of color. Just ask the LA Times and Marie Claire who invented cornrows, Forbes who runs hip hop, and Vogue who made big booties fashionable. Women who look like Iggy Azeila, Kendall Jenner, and Miley Cyrus get most of the credit.

The trend of discovering something new that’s not new has been in style since 1492. So we cannot forget to tip our hats to Christopher Columbus, the man who started the “discovering” trend himself.

Meanwhile, the African explorers depicted in the Olmec heads are turning over in their ancient Mexican graves thinking, “Been there, done that…Where’s our holiday?”

Contrary to popular belief, Africans from Ancient Nubia and the Mali Empire came to the Americas more than 2,000 years before Columbus, and no, they were not slaves (you gotta make that clear for some folks). They were explorers and drifters who happened upon foreign lands and eventually became a part of the culture, influencing the art, language, and government of native civilizations.

Few know that the step pyramids at La Venta in Tabasco, Mexico, parallel those from Ancient Nubia and Egypt because of Nubian contact with ancient Mexicans, that the Olmec heads at La Venta resemble African men in facial structure and hair texture, or that Negroid skeletons dating back to 1250 AD were found in the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to historian Ivan Van Sertima, author of They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America (1976) and several other linguists, archeologists, botanists, and art historians researching in their respective fields, African pioneers crossed the Atlantic sometime between 800-680 BC.

Though many of us have never hear this information (f*ck what you heard!), this is not news. Nearly 100 years ago, historian Leo Wiener published a booked entitled Africa and the Discovery of Americas, which was immediately met with raciallycharged criticism and disbelief. Critics could not fathom Africans doing anything noteworthy, and denied the evidence of Africans in the Americas. Or, when they did accept the evidence, they assumed that those Africans were not explorers, but slaves brought over by Europeans.

Because of their “racial reflexes”, as Sertima calls them, scholars in academia were blinded by their racist views and failed to accept historical, linguistic, cultural, and biological facts that pointed to a glaring truth of African presence in the Americas.

Sadly, academia has not been purged of this racism—and we spoon feed it to our children. You won’t find much mention of African explorers in your school history books. Our education system is dangerously Eurocentric. Our history curriculums reinforce the same colonial ideas about race that the nay-sayers of academia make: black people are slaves, not explorers. In failing to discuss the ties between African and ancient American history in elementary through college classrooms, we silence truth and give Columbus, Vespucci, and other European explorers credit they shouldn’t fully possess. Leaving this history out of textbooks gives glory to white men and denies the explorations and successes of people of color.

I’m not saying Africans discovered America. That would be especially ignorant considering there were already great civilizations flourishing before their arrival, and I wouldn’t want to repeat that trend of not giving credit where credit is due. I’m also not saying that Africans were the only ones to arrive. The book also mentions contact with Asians, Polynesians, and other groups. Sertima sums it up perfectly at the end of his book: “all great civilizations are heavily indebted to one another… [and] no race has a monopoly on inventive genius.”

In honor of all the explorers of color, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of They Came Before Columbus or any other book that tells an alternative narrative of black pioneers. If the schools aren’t teaching it, we have to teach ourselves. #KnowYourHistory

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