Omar Victor Diop | Project Diaspora

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I’m not sure what I’ve been doing thus far, but I finally got my life together and visited Savannah College of Art & Design, better known as SCAD. Well, SCAD FASH, where the school’s fashion and film exhibits are featured. It’s a pretty space and just $10 for us regular folks to visit, so I’ll definitely be making more trips.

Omar Victor Diop was the subject in his own series: Project Diaspora. He depicted many historians, yet incorporated soccer – balls, cleats, the red card, a whistle, etc. After speaking with one of the guides in the museum, I agree that in the original portraits, the subjects were holding something else and adding in the soccer elements is Omar’s way of personalizing and modernizing the photos even further.

I thought Project Diaspora was super fun and unique; I can’t recall ever seeing anything like it. Omar has a beautiful, androgynous face that worked perfectly to share his vision. You can read more about him and his work here and be sure to check out the haps at SCAD if you’re ever in Atlanta.

 

Is Black History Month Just a Brutally Honest White History Month? [a reblog]

White people are just as sick of black history month as black people are, for the same reasons. You see, to a black person, black history month is full of what white people done to black people. To a white person, it’s the same — it’s white people doing things to black people. So, in knowing that, wouldn’t Black History Month be a brutally, radically honest element of white history?

via Is Black History Month Really Just a Brutally Honest White History Month? — AfroSapiophile

Jim Crow Fantasies

The Dirty Dozen: Jim Crow Fantasies

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I had the pleasure of attending the opening reception for Okeeba Jubalo‘s art exhibit, The Dirty Dozen: Jim Crow Fantasies. If you’ve never heard of him (I hadn’t), I encourage you to peep his bio. He’s very interesting with a substantial career, humble with a quiet confidence whose weighty works speak volumes.

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This piece (above) was the sunny spot of the exhibit. Or was it? I took it as being your own leader with your own thoughts- not outsourcing for acceptance, love or guidance. A god within, if you will. A unique, self-fueled standard of intelligence and beauty. It sounds kinda easy, but how many people can you tick off that refuse to face themselves(G-check) or dismiss constructive criticism? How many do you know that are stubborn and completely unwilling to consider differing ideas and opinions? Can you look in the mirror and only speak positively-not just “good” things about yourself, but the uncomfortable adjustments required to be better?

 

Okeeba Jubalo has taken it upon himself to create a visual voice for those made invisible in America’s social, economic and political infrastructure.(source)

 

His show was part of Transcendence, a Black History Month celebration of art, culture, togetherness and-the obvious-history.

When I walked into the gallery, I thought this hints of Basquiat-violent, graphic and almost primitive. Okeeba paints us as the caricatures found on brand-name products and their ads a few decades back. It may not be so blatant or as popular anymore, but it’s still being practiced today. Jim Crow Fantasies is an uncomfortable reminder that we’re still viewed as caricatures. Children in adult bodies. Fools. Even with the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, we haven’t grown much from the era of Jim Crow, blackface, begging for “equality” and tap-dancing for white jesus.

I could really go into some of these pieces, but I’d like to leave it up to you, the viewers, to share your own interpretations. My little camera phone doesn’t do it justice, but I promise I tried.

As always, thanks for tuning in. And Okeeba, thank you for your necessary contributions to the art world.

 

YOU go get a perm, Dick.

I met a young lady a few weeks ago who broke my heart. A little. Since my arms were full, she – let’s call her Angel – greeted me with a warm half hug and a loving cheek squish followed up with a shower of compliments to my freshly chopped low fade. Angel went on to say she’d been natural before, but her husband (let’s call him Dick) told her to “go back.”

*sings whatcha say to me??! in my Sampha voice*

Smoothing her gelled nape, she claimed to be a lil rebel who let it get a little nappy before scheduling a retouch. Somehow I maintained an engaged, non-wtf expression as my stomach sunk a bit. We ended the segment with Angel saying she’d again return natural… one day.

Now I am no relationship expert but I know enough to know that when you love and when you’re in love, looks do not matter as much as they might when you’re an outsider looking in. But I also understand that you don’t want to lose who you were initially attracted to, especially if it entails sacrificing your lover’s health, right Dick?! Like gaining an unhealthy amount of weight or going in for elective surgeries, suctions and injections. I’ve seen men watch their wives wither away from cancer and chemo treatments, holding on even after her last heartbeat. So I know for a fact, through the eyes of a good person, character (and love) trumps appearance E V E R Y time.

But a relaxer? Dammit Dick! C’mon! I’m not judging (I’m judging) because Angel let you take the undeserved W, but really, you both lost. And what if you have a son? OMG what if you two have a daughter?! Or twin girls?? What will your choices + ideals teach them? Angel and I didn’t get that deep, but I’m guessing your views hurt her enough to open up to a stranger about her husband’s negative opinion. It’s fair to say I met a real life Unhappy Wife.

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I think we, Black people in the year 2017, know that CHEMICALLY relaxing + perming, especially for a long period of time, has great risks. We have to. If you don’t, please come out from under that huge rock, step into the 21st century + educate yourself. Look at the photos of the sometimes irreversible damage to our hair, scalp and psyche. I’d be all #teamhubby if you’d met and fell for an all natural Angel and she was now sporting a relaxer. But that’s not the case. Even if she’s a natural mess (which is tragic, but workwithable), Dick, you as her friend and life partner should have been tirelessly hunting down the nearest natural hair stylist and/or helping Angel find a formula to ease her hair struggles! You know, putting good use to some of those vows you took. I promise you it’s not that difficult with Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook, Google, Bing, yahoo! answers, the girl with the fro in the drugstore, phonebooks, aunties, nieces, mamas, neighbors, cousins, co-workers, working thumbs and a voice.

Instead, what Dick’s telling Angel is that he cares more about her looks than her health. And happiness. Those vows, Dick! Those vows! Dick is telling Angel that her positive life changes don’t matter. Dick rests easy knowing that his spouse’s scalp is continuously burned by a cocktail of chemicals that will flatten and strip all life + uniqueness from otherwise strong, thick kinks and coils. What kind of man …?

Dick, if you’re reading, please know that I do not appreciate you or your kind shutting down the permanent wave that is natural hair. Sure it is just hair, but you’re an African in America and you know that collectively, hair is much much more than just hair to us. Our manes and minds have been pillaged for centuries by e v e r y o n e, including us! And here you are, perpetuating our enslavement and stifling our new growth (pun intended). Dick, you should be applauding the Black woman who chooses the natural route; although it may appear so, thanks to you/society/slavery/lack of support/Black codes/non-African hair promotion + fetishization/whitewashing/hair care aisles/self-loathing negroes/lack of resources/european beauty standards, it’s not always easy to let our natural selves be.

You chose one of the brave ones as a wife, you lucky Dick! You are so fortunate to have a smart, loving Black woman at your side who actually prefers to embrace her natural beauty in a world that condemns + mocks her entire being. Our crowns are a beautiful spectrum of curl patterns and textures and expressions that no other people can claim and we should be celebrating that, Dick. I know how divisive some pro-natural naturalistas can be and that’s not why I’m here. We’re all at different stages with different ideals and I can only pray that all African men and women see the power, strength + beauty in our natural selves. It’s a struggle to dismiss what we’ve been indoctrinated to define as beautiful. No fault of ours, but if we see someone trying to make that shift, let’s just back them for being courageous.

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P.S. Shout out to Josie who rocked her natural out for the first time! Whoop! That’s a small step to giant! Keep inspiring 😉

photo © rachelstewartjewelry.com

Remnants of the Human Condition

Human Condition: “the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence… such as birth, growth, conflict, and mortality… including religion, philosophy, history, art, and sociology.”

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I was personally invited by one of the curators to view Remnants of the Human Condition. You know, all exclu xclu (pronounced: ex(s)klOO skloo) style in my business inbox. What?! So I had to go. The synopsis was intriguing: (Joseph) Guay’s thought-provoking exhibit will examine the characteristics, events and situations that encompass human existence, such as birth, growth, conflict and mortality. “Remnants of the Human Condition” will explore the difficult topics in the media that attempt to sum up the human condition and will allow the audience to experience a differing visual approach that will broaden their views and beliefs. source

Most of the pieces were meticulously made from bullets, casings, gun powder, motor oil and glass-something my eyes had never seen. Just more proof that art is everything and anything can be made into art, right. I appreciate Guay’s efforts and the attention he’s bringing to certain issues, but I don’t think he quite gets it. In his statement, he does make some great points, but it goes much much deeper than “civilians” getting their hands on military grade weapons + ammunition. It’s more than a question of who should own guns. His exhibition highlighted shooting murders by cops as well as civilians, yet most of the victims depicted are Black [with the exception of Sandy Hook, which to me, is unbelievable]. Yet this significant detail was not once mentioned in his statement. The skin color and ethnic makeup of the shooting victims were never mentioned actually.

Maybe that was my bad, attending a show with the pre/misconception of an artist who, although not Black himself,  I thought was an ally or at least believed that these murderers should be called out on their acts of terrorism. A man who felt the need to probe not only the reality that we are disproportionately attacked + executed, but why.

Silly me.

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The show was interesting. Major visual appeal. The depiction of Trayvon with a head of Skittles facing a wall of black hoodies-the center hoodie in a crucified position- was quite haunting. And it always makes my heart sink thinking of this boy’s senseless murder. After learning of Guay’s vision and journey to create these works, I was a bit disappointed to learn that yes, he is an artist whose art reflects the times, but still doesn’t quite understand, or fails to state that he understands, that Black people and other people of color are under attack. Under attack by people that look like him, people that look like me, strangers, cops, and familiars alike. From every direction. Every day.

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In Guay’s statement, he says he would just like people to expand whatever perspective they already have and truly think about the issues at hand. I hope he heeds his own hopes and continues to learn about the genocide of the victims he spotlights in his work.

 

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Thanks for sharing this interesting video, Melanin Man. Imagine how different this country might be if we never “integrated”.. I see more pros than cons.