Category Archives: colonization/colonialism

Foreign Tokens: The Blackamoor Brooch

Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco wearing blackamoor heads.

By Guest Contributor Rama Musa

The legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland once wrote, “Have I ever showed you my little blackamoor heads from Cartier with their enameled turbans? I’m told it’s not in good taste to wear blackamoors anymore, but I think I’ll revive them.”

A blackamoor head is a bejeweled bust of a dark-skinned African wearing a pseudo-Oriental turban. Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana recently caused a firestorm for featuring blackamoor imagery in their spring 2013 runway collection. Rapper Azealia Banks went on Twitter to boycott the brand. In its defense, D&G claims that the collection is inspired by Moorish imagery on Sicilian majolica ceramics. That’s a plausible rebuttal. The 9th-century Moorish invasion of southern Italy was so cataclysmic that it’s immortalized in Sicilian arts. But, the ornamental use of blacks in European luxury culture has a more complex history.
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One More #FacingRace Flashback: An Excerpt From Junot Diaz’s Keynote

Big thanks to the Colorlines team for posting this 23-minute section from Junot Díaz’s keynote speech at the Facing Race conference, which we focused on in our team roundtable of the event last week.

“I lost the printout,” Díaz confresses to start the proceedings. “I left it on the train up.” He then opens the floor for questions, partly because of the unique demands of his position.

“I’ve gotta read something,” he explains. “You know, when they give you this much time and they say that you have to do a keynote speech, you have to, like, write something down. And I never sound very smart or interesting when I have to read. So I feel like super-bad about it.”

Note: The speech does use NSFW language, but it’s still worth watching, as the author expands on the idea of “decolonial love” and more.

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Jakeya Caruthers

By Andrea Plaid

Jakeya Caruthers. Courtesy of the interviewee.

Meeting one of my long-admired-from-afar writer/thinkers, Darnell Moore, over coffee-talk about gentrification and public transportation, I asked for suggestions for people I could interview for future Crushes. He said that he knew this sistah at Stanford University who taught a class on Afrofuturism.

“Latoya’s taking a class on that as part of her Stanford Fellowship,” I said. “This has got to be the same woman teaching it…”

While Latoya’s family and I drove her back to JFK airport from her weekend stay in NYC, she was all hyped up about–yep!–her Afrofuturism class.

“With Jakeya, right? I’m planning to interview her for the Crush post…”

“Yes! That’s what I’m talking about!!”

So, y’all know what my first question was for Professor Caruthers…

In full disclosure, the R’s intrepid leader, Latoya Peterson, is completely in love with your class, especially the homework! What are you teaching our gurl in your class?

Wow, that’s really humbling!

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: Wuthering Heights Reimagined And The Gap’s Anti-First Nations T-Shirt

By Andrea Plaid

Reblogged this excerpt of an In These Times post from thesmithian:

…the reimagining of Heathcliff, that “dark-skinned” “gipsy”…as a black man…Brontë’s Heathcliff was repeatedly evoked as “dark,” and culled from the slums of Liverpool (a port fraught with immigrants). But in movies and theater, he has always manifested as white, from Laurence Olivier to Tom Hardy. Brontë may not have intended Heathcliff to have been a full-on African—which in the 1700s meant being a slave—but Arnold’s coup turns the old story around, from a wicked love-lost tragedy into a crisis of a society suffering the guilt and ghosts of slavery.

Tumblizen purple01_prose added this commentary:

Here’s the thing. Christopher Haywood, in his annotated edition of Wuthering Heights, examines the race of Heathcliff at length. Given all of the coding of Heathcliff as ‘dark,’ Haywood explained some of the racial terms of the time, and some of the beliefs of a time, like in how many generations someone with African ancestry with dark skin could have a descendant with white skin. (at least 6, with a white partner for every generation). There were names for each generation.

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Quoted: Adrienne K. On The History Of The Stanford Mascot

Yeah, that’s a wild-eyed tomahawk wielding Indian holding the SKIN of the Arizona Wildcat. Right, this is honoring, this is showing pride in Native peoples and traditions. I felt sick to my stomach as I took the picture. She was babbling on and on about the mascot back in the day, and honestly, my ears were roaring with shame and rage, and I missed the majority of what she said. I caught the end though; “We always said, when they got rid of the Indian, ‘well, that’s just another Indian out of a job!’” I looked at her with a blank face and turned my back.
- From Native Appropriations

Voices: Taking Back ‘Columbus Day’

For the United States of America to have a federal holiday in honor of that particular moment of “discovery” in 1492, is unconscionable on many levels.

To celebrate that moment is to celebrate the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain.

To cheer about Columbus is to cheer the coming of the first European slave trader to the Americas.

To praise what happened in 1492 is to implicitly praise the very real and very terrible results of that contact between peoples.
- Jessica Luther, Speaker’s Corner in the ATX

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An African Election Tweet-Up: Pan-Africanism And Ghana’s 2008 Election

Pan-Africanism has such a hold on quite a few progressive people’s imaginations, but why and, more specifically, how did it play out in the 2008 election of where that philosophy originated, Ghana, as captured in Jarreth Merz’s documentary, An African Election?

Racialicious and the National Black Programming Consortium touched on it in our last tweet-up with Temple University’s Dr. Benjamin Talton. This week, we’ll do an extended tweetersation about Pan-Africanism and Ghana with Dr. James Peterson, who’s the director of Africana Studies and is an associate professor of English at Lehigh University (and a friend of the R).

So, check us out out on Twitter tomorrow night at 9PM ET and join the conversation!

Related Posts:

An African Election‘s Jarreth Merz On African Stereotypes And Ghanaian Politics

An African Election Takes Over Racialicious

An African Election on Twitter

Afro-Latin And The Negro Common: An Interview With Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas

By Guest Contributor Lamont Lilly

The author (L) with Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas. Courtesy of the author.

Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas is the Interim Chair of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at North Carolina Central University, where his interests lie in Transatlantic and Diaspora Studies. He is the author of five books, including The Africanization of Mexico from the Sixteenth Century Onward (2010) and Africa in Mexico: A Repudiated Heritage (2007). He is the founder and director of the Mexican Institute of Africana Studies. Read along as we discuss: Colonialism, Gaspar Yanga, Ivan Van Sertima and Mexico’s Little Black Sambo.

Lamont Lilly: Dr. Cuevas, as only the second individual I know to describe themselves as Afro-Mexican can you share some insight on the cultural connections that exist within such a powerful ethic mix? And why have figures such as Gaspar Yanga and Emiliano Zapata been omitted from history’s reference of heralded freedom fighters?

Statue of Gaspar Yanga in Veracruz, Mexico. Courtesy: Black Art Depot Today.

Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas: Well, the reason you haven’t heard many refer to themselves as Afro-Mexican is because this is a relatively new term that was first coined by Eurocentric scholars like Melville Herskovits. It was Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán who coined it in 1945 in Mexico City, during the foundational meeting of the Institute for African American Studies. However, that doesn’t mean that a color consciousness didn’t exist in Mexico. Prior to that, we had a host of names such as “Casta,” “Chilango,” “Jarocho,” and “Boshito,” all terms that refer to the lack of blood cleanliness of non-white persons. That would explain why many people in Mexico do not identify themselves as Afro-Mexican. They refer to themselves as Casta, or any of the other names previously mentioned. Recently however, there’s been a movement in the South Pacific side of Mexico whereby Afro-Mexicans do not want to be called Afro-Mexican. They just want to be called Nĕgro — Black. It erases the science and intellectuality of such embedded complexities.
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