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.

 

Erosion

 

In earth science, erosion is the action of surface processes (such as water flow or wind) that remove soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth’s crust, then transports it away to another location. [source]

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A photo project encapsulating white society’s lustful appropriation of a black woman’s body. So often, black women are slandered for their natural physical attributes. Attributes that are then praised when on a white woman’s body. This project is us speaking out. [D.S.]

photography © Daniel Stewart

creative director + model Imani Love

 

 

Because of Them, We Can

I discovered Because of Them, We Can a few years back via social media. I love this brand because it is visually bold and graphic, yet it teaches people-young and not so young-about the important Blacks in history who helped pave the way for many opportunities we have today. And what better way to teach our future Black history than to make them a part of it?

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Because of Them is much more than a t-shirt brand or really cute kids playing dress up. Eunique, its founder, is a great inspiration being such a creative entrepreneurial Black woman raising two young princes with her king. She has been well on her way long before I discovered her, but it is just beautiful to see her family and her brand flourish!

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Just know that when you purchase from Because of Them, We Can, you are doing much more than buying a poster or calendar or book; you are purchasing a piece of a necessary movement. Left and right, Black history is being whitewashed and erased. We can longer afford to leave it up to television or schooling to teach ourselves or our children the whole, true history of our people.

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But hey, don’t get it twisted, you will still look fly in their tees. The backpack is my favorite travel mate. Seeing their designs + campaign made me search and discover the history of lesser known activists like Bayard Rustin, Beulah Mae Donald and Mamie Till. And anything Because of Them, We Can is a learning opportunity and conversation piece.

A Time Before Crack

I read about this amazing book and its predecessors [as well as its brilliant photojournalist Jamel Shabazz] over the summer while combing the internets for Black men with style. And, doggonit, I just love how I stumble upon things like this. It was meant to be. Of course the wonderful images stopped me in my tracks and made me smile, so you know I had to share.

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Amazon’s synopsis: Once upon a time before crack, inner city communities were blighted by poverty and unemployment—but not by the drug wars that tore families apart, destroying lives with needless violence and mindless addiction. Once upon a time before crack, pride and style were as inseparable as a beatbox and mixtape, or as a pair of shoes and matching purse. Once upon a time before crack, Jamel Shabazz was on the scene, working the streets of New York City, capturing the faces and places of an era that have long since disappeared. 

Best known as Hip Hop’s finest fashion photographer for his blockbuster best-selling monograph, Back in the Days (powerHouse Books, 2001), Shabazz revisited his archive and unearthed an extraordinary collection of never-before-published documentary photographs collected for his third powerHouse Books release, A Time Before Crack, a visual diary of the streets of New York City from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, Shabazz’s distinctive photographs reveal the families, the poses, and the players who made this age extraordinary.

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And we all know, in gist, why crack was created and how its use saturated Black and poor America; just as Black people were really regaining their strength and solidarity and love for their fellow man, the other man came in and said “fuck that!” and skillfully paved yet another dark avenue to destroy us-make us weak, useless and severely addicted. Imprison us. Break up our homes and obliterate our families. Kill us.

That is why this book is so beautiful.

A Time Before Crack and Shabaaz’s other works remind us of our true beauty, style, pride. Power. Strength. It displays our freer moments in American history. Not to erase or discredit our struggle, but so much of our history in America glorifies our  plights or the same few triumphs, like Rosa Parks’ story or Dr. King’s speeches are as good as it got.

But this at this point, slavery had been abolished. We were no longer fighting for integration or the right to vote. We were happy. We could relax a little, put our feet up. Shabaaz shows a time when things were much better -GREAT even- in the Black community. Albeit some of us were poor, we had each other and we had plenty of love. For us, there was hope. There was a bright bright future. We had more reasons to smile.

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It is always disheartening to be reminded that we have always been fighting-that we will always have to fight-just to be human. Just to be. But on the other side of the same coin, it brings me joy to see our sweet moments in history and know we are such a strong, resilient people.

[all photos ©Jamel Shabazz]

Black Every Friday: Dexter R. Jones

Basically there’s this amazing man from Brooklyn [why are all the cool people from Brooklyn tho??!]. His use of vibrant color is visually striking, yet- like all great art -there’s a message behind the muses. Dex understands that Black women, the most beautiful beings on the earth, are constantly marginalized and need to be represented in a loving, positive light. Yes, a brother that recognizes the unfair representation of his sisters, has a gift and proudly shares it. I love that he loves us.

ENVY OF THE WORLD It gives me great satisfaction to do good work and create something with my name on it that’s accessible to the people. You all know I always try to convey subtle yet potent messages with my work. The “Envy” image is no different. It is quite literally a highly sought-after beautifully melinated dismembered head surrounded by a loud inescapably hot aura. We are their Envy – and because of that deadly sin, we have been stripped and broken down to bare minimums. This is what they do when they want what they can’t have. But we have it. So even still……we look so damn good in this hostile environment. We are the Envy of the World. Their thirst for more never ends. But we got the juice and we have always known that even in death we can’t be stopped. We get louder. We grow stronger. We get up in your face. – Dex R. Jones

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Beautiful, right??! You can show Dexter some social media love, book a shoot, donate or purchase prints + tees on his site. He’s here in Atlanta for Naturally Beautiful [happening tomorrow], a cool lil showcase presented by 50 Shades of Black featuring some of his works, a live photoshoot, hair care demos and conversation. [P.S. it’s free]

Let’s support someone that supports us .com | tumbla | afropunk | insta

all images © Dex R. Jones