Posts filed under africa

BLACK AMERICANA VOL 1: Amore of the Diaspora

Amore of the Diaspora

As an artist and scholar I want to redefine and re-appropriate Black Americana to reflect, and highlight the positive contributions of people of African decent in the Americas and through out the diaspora. The first installment of the project or BLACK AMERICANA: Volume One explores relational dynamics between black men and black women at various points within the African American historical timeline looking to quantify and establish what it took for one black man to love one black woman in the past and what it takes now and cast vision for it will take generations to come. My hope is to create a body of work that encourages healthy dynamics within the Black nuclear family and helps us identify with the love that sustains us in our darkest moments and inspires us during our best, and brightest. The mixed media creative work spans multiple creative platforms, including a coffee table book of fine art photography, scholarship and documented accounts of the lives and love of real black American couples and includes contributions of notable visual artist of color selected by myself working together to expand and nuance the conversation around the legacy of Black American’s, exploring both the pain and pride in our collective stories.

Using the same two subjects, myself and Atlanta based artist, activist, and cultural influencer Devan D. Dunson we seek to embody the "black lovers” who meet at pivotal moments within black history and various meta moments within black consciousness. Visually and creatively placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, experiencing and connecting with truths and moments they endured and discovering "the love" over and over again. Let our collective knowledge of black history, esteem and honor for the countless black couples and families who’s love stories are the foundation for our own be increased as we unearth the SUBSTANCE and fiber of our communal connection. What it is that binds and bonds us as a community, as brothers and sisters, as man and woman? What is the soul, spirit and dynamic power of black love? So few of us are taught, have modeled or EVER really get to experience what LOVE looks and feels like when its healthy because "our love" story has had to unfold in the midst of injustice, poverty and a racially toxic society, to me the art and the artist are one, as I seek to unlock and creatively express what is contained in my own heart, my own pride and pain found, I hope to heal and celebrate the beauty and spirit of "our stories" and find the “love" in our legacy.  

-Tanisha Lynn Pyron


TRINITY: Blessed, Black, Beautiful

 Words by Nina Brewton | Photo by  Creative Silence

Words by Nina Brewton | Photo by Creative Silence

I won't ask for forgiveness for embracing my Blackness. I will not put it on the shelf for you to gaze upon as a novelty

Deep within my Melanin is grace beyond measure. My blackness, used against me for so long that the beatings nearly broke me

I won't apologize for owning my femininity 
I am Mother Earth, as I was created by the Creator to bring forth life anew

My hands, loving and nurturing, cradling hearts that have been broken
My smile, the sun, replenishing each seed in a cold and dark world

I will not apologize for my spirituality
I am a Believer
I am a Lover
I be the Light, as His Light shines from within

Made perfect by His Love
Sinner, yet righteous through He who created this...

Black
Woman
Born of spirit
Reborn by the Spirit

I am a trilogy
My story three fold
I am a deity
Made in the image of The Trinity

Father
Son
Holy Spirit 
Alive within me for the world to see

I will not beg your pardon for loving all of humanity. I will love as God loves me
Spreading Peace, Love and Light, Divinity Alive in threes

---

Nina Brewton is the newest member of the 50 Shades of Black Blog Team.  Visit each week for her personal reflections into womanhood, spirituality, black identity, and inspiration.

Visit her on her website baldheadqueen.com

ALSO BY NINA: 
BLACK. SELF. LOVE. Just Because I Love Me Doesn't Mean I Hate You
Slavery and Salvation...Fury and Forgiveness: Reflections of the Charleston 9

Posted on July 26, 2015 and filed under africa, Identity.

BRINGING THE GIFTS: An Exhibit by 50 Shades of Black Creator Reflects on the Hopes and Dreams of Enslaved Africans

 

January 31, 2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which abolished the forced labor and enslavement of human beings.  On June 19, 1865, known as Junteenth the last remaining slaves in America were declared free. It was a day that many enslaved Africans dreamed of, struggled for, and died for in an effort to obtain…but never saw in person. 

In 1935 the federal government created a program known as The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). The project employed photographers and writers, who travelled throughout the United States photographing and collecting stories of Americans across a spectrum of society.  Among the FWP projects was the Slave Narrative Collection [Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938]

The narratives are a collection of over 2,300 personal accounts of rural, southern African-Americans, the last of a dying generation of Africans born into the horrors of North American enslavement.  Though their adult lives were spent in “freedom,” they knew firsthand the limitations of Reconstruction.  Many lived under the harsh conditions of segregation and the debt of the vicious system of sharecropping. Though they had been emancipated from the peculiar and brutal system of chattel slavery, they could still only hope and work tirelessly for equality.

It is their sacrifice, resolve, and relentless commitment to resist any system or ideology that saw them as less than a human being that etched the blueprint for generations to follow. This blueprint is their greatest gift. It would serve as the foundation upon which a future they had faith in would come and would be built. 

BRINGING THE GIFTS

In 1978 Maya Angelou penned the now famous poem, “Still I Rise.” The poem was initially popularized by its use in a campaign by the United Negro College Fund and the name Maya Angelou itself became ubiquitous for Black Empowerment Poetry after she delivered the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993.

The poem “Still I Rise” ends with the refrain: “Bringing the gifts that the ancestors gave… I am the hope and the dream of a slave.”  “BRINGING THE GIFTS,” a series of portraits that pairs historic photographs from the Federal Writers’ Project with the photography of contemporary Atlanta artist Carlton Mackey, is a creative re-imagination of that refrain.

Tiffany Young preserves the history of Butler Island and created the annual homecoming for Butler descendants.

At the invitation of Ms. Tiffany Young, descendant of Africans enslaved on Butler Island and creator of the annual Butler Island Plantation Homecoming,Mackey agreed to conduct an Open Photo Shoot of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™, a movement created by Mackey to celebrate and affirm the beauty found in every human being. The Butler Island Plantation Homecoming is an annual event comprised of Butler Island descendants, friends,and supporters who wish to celebrate and remember the ancestors that lived and toiled upon the former rice plantation of Pierce Mease Butler near Darien, Georgia. At its peak more than 500 enslaved Africans worked the plantation.  Fanny Kemble, an abolitionist and wife of Pierce Butler, wrote of the life and harsh treatment of those enslaved on the island in “Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839”. Her harsh opposition of Butler’s practices ultimately lead to their divorce.  The publication of her journal became an effective tool of the anti-slavery movement and is considered one of the “best primary sources from the point of view of the slave owner of slave life on an early 19th Century plantation” (www.gacivilwar.org/story/butler-island-plantation).

 

Just days before the event was to take place, Mackey began searching the Internet with the hopes of potentially finding images of Africans who were enslaved in the area of the Homecoming events. Instead, he found several images from the Federal Writers’ Project archive.  In the archive he stumbled upon the image of Mr. Henry Brooks.  At that verymoment, Mackey claims to have been spoken directly to by the ancestor in the photograph and given instructions for executing a new photo series in lieu of the traditional BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ Open Photo Shoot. Overcome with emotion,Mackey followed instructions and searched for a digital photo of himself taken earlier in the year by Atlanta photographer Bryan Meltz.  When he placed his photo next to the photograph of Mr. Brooks, the resemblance was uncanny -both in their physical features and the posing of the two in their respective portraits.  The revelation was ultimately clear and the concept for this new series was born.


To create this exhibit, Mackey collected and printed as many photographs taken of Africans formerly enslaved in the state of Georgia as he could from the Federal Writers’ Project and the U.S. Farm Security Administration archives. While at the Butler Island Plantation Homecoming, participants were invited to spend moments in quiet mediation while looking through these photographs.

Each participant was to choose (or be chosen by) one person in the photograph to honor. At various locations on Butler Island itself and throughout the town of Darien, Mackey photographed the participants and invited them to offer written reflections about the process and why they were drawn to a particular image.

The pairing was meant to invoke and awaken the essence of the living participant by creating a direct connection to the ancestor in the photograph.  It was meant to foster a heartfelt acknowledgement that through their living, they were the physical embodiment of someone’s “hopes and dreams.”

This series and the process of creating it are also as much about honoring one’s ancestors as it is about reflecting on the nature and meaning of hope. It challenges us to remember the gifts we’ve been given and dares us to ask: 

  • What are the gifts that we bring to the world?

  • It challenges us to critically reflect on our own hopes for the future and the source of the deep personal longings that reside at the epicenter of these hopes. 

  • What are the responsibilities that we have to make these hopes manifest? 

  • How might our living be a fitting memorial to those who came before us?

BRINGING THE GIFTS was on display at APEX Museum April 25, 2015 

Carlton Mackey was the Healthcare Ethics Consortium artist in residence for the 2015 HEC Annual Conference.  As part of his residency Mackey presented the inaugural display of BRINGING THE GIFTS at the Emory Conference Center Hotel March 19 & 20.

CONTACT US to inquire about displaying this series

 

Posted on June 18, 2015 and filed under africa, art, education, history, religion and culture.

Her Blackness/Darkness is Her Beauty…and BEAUTY is Her Name (Part 2)

I identified as an American-Cuban African, and colorism has played an intricate role in the process of my sociocultural development. In a cultural context, colorism has a profound impact on standards of beauty. Unfortunately, that impact had influenced my family’s perception of beauty. Growing up, I was socialized to believe that people with fairer complexions, la clara or mulatta, would escape the harsh (if not entirely certain) criticisms that awaits darker complexions, la morena or negrita. I was socialized to pity darker complexions, but without much conversation about my own complexion, I took notice that I was the “morena.” Was I taught to pity the possible reality of harsh criticisms that await me? Games like “make believe” which easily taught me that I was the “morena,” and helped to socialize color. In the game’s own sorted and twisted blend, it demonstrated that I could deflect the negativisms and criticisms that should arise from colorism by seeing women of all shades attain a level of success. 

I was fortune to have younger siblings to play with. I was the oldest of my mother’s four children. Blanca and I are sixteen months apart. Growing up, we played childhood antics, like “make believe.” We pretended to be just about anyone in our “Harlem” world apartment. Our favorite “act” was pretending to be Salt –n – Peppa. My sister was Salt and I was Peppa. I don’t exactly remember how we pick the characters. All I remember was that I never really like being Peppa, but felt somewhat obligated in portraying her because she was darker and my sister was lighter. She was the dark skin rapper with a raunchy personality who was known to date even raunchier rappers. She was seemingly the least attractive person in the group, but just as successful. Nevertheless, someone had to play Peppa in order for our pretend world to work. Looking back on this “fond” childhood memory, I realized that not only did I despise that game, but that it shaped my perspective on color, and introduced an awkward self-awareness to my complexion. Games like this, although fashioned in the “spirit of fun,” fed into my lifelong struggle of identifying issues of color (colorism) within my family and community. My sister, whose name literally means white or pale in Spanish, was named after my grandmother. However, her name also represents the pale complexion she was born with. Something like life’s cruel joke on us both as a constant reminder of her fair complexion, and my misfortune of having a dark complexion.

As a community, we are taught that whites are racists. However, we exhibit prejudicial practices in color complexions. As I was considered la morenita or negrita, constantly reminded of my darker complexion, particularly from my family members, I use to think, What is it with people and color? I realized that my family had as many issues and criticisms about color as I received from my community. Over time, I learned to embrace every inch of my complexion. I even learned to appreciate the character I emulated as a child. It was a process, and it began with rejecting Eurocentric ideals of beauty and reclaiming/owning my body. I learned to embrace and love all of me. I learned to embrace the essence of my color.

General cultural beliefs were la clara or mulatta has noticeably refined attractive features: hair, eyes, an inherent or preferred sex appeal; whereas, la morena or negrita’s features are arguably more pronounced (nose and lips) and hypersexualized (ass, thighs, and hips). Within this very culture, religiosity is the dominant force that demonstrates the line of demarcation with color. It is the most significant example of colorism. Fairer complexion saints are revered as holy, beautiful, and altruistic; whereas, darker complexions are perceived as demonic, evil forces that can, if not careful, overtake the human soul. 

Images like Queens Tiye, Nefetari, Neith, and Pharaoh Hapshetsut, drastically altered my interpretation and perceptions of beauty when I learned of them as a graduate student. I wondered, How did I not know about these real life personalities who were successful? Why didn’t we “make believe” to be these figures? Regardless of what never happened, I was aware now. 

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BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

This is from our personal story series curated by the creator of 50 Shades of BLACK, in partnership with I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing. Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

>>SHARE YOUR STORY<<

READ MORE STORIES

Posted on November 21, 2014 and filed under africa, Identity, personal stories, skin tone.

Her Blackness/Darkness is Her Beauty…and BEAUTY is Her Name (Part 1)

In October 2010, my second beautiful premature niece was born. As she matured, the conversation of “complexion” resurfaced, instantly drudging up images of my childhood experience on colorism. My sister began the discussion by pausing and leaning her head to the side as she noticed my niece’s ears and fingers. She turned to my mother and said, “Mami, she is going to be dark!” Suddenly overcome by disappointment, she sat quietly as my mother reexamined her features. I learned of the conversation when I visited for the first time since she was born. My mom blurted out, “She’s going to be dark.” I began staring at my niece to avoid indulging in the conversation, however, I couldn’t help thinking of my childhood. I wondered, why did my mom mention this? –why was my sister distressed over her daughter’s complexion? It baffled me! After the awkward silence settled in, I curiously asked, “why, what’s wrong with being dark?” My mother responded, “well, I just don’t want her to have the same complex you had when you were younger?!” I was never fully knew if my mother was aware of my color complex or if she knew how it emerged, until she said this. Was she even aware that my skin complex heightened because of those “make believe” games? The problem for me was that there was a fixated fear of criticisms associated with dark complexions. It was perceived as a stigma instead of a celebration. I quickly realized how detrimental my outlook was needed, and was elated for the opportunity to share my insights. 

The celebration of black skin is first taught through ancient Kemetic history. The Eurocentric narrative of beauty contradicts this history, and caused a detrimental rift in thinking. When introduced to this sacred history, my concept of beauty shifted. There was an immediate growth in awareness and appreciation for all shades of color. I began to piece myself into a history that celebrated blackness, and rejected the narrative that demonized it. My wholehearted conversion to this beautiful legacy enabled me to guide my family through an ancient concept of celebrating beauty in all shades of color, hopefully removing the stigma on colorism. Darkness is celebrated in all aspects of life. I began by explaining my perception of creation: the Creator kissed darkness to bring forth light. All life came through the cosmic uni, which is formed in darkness, and birthed through light. The most vivid demonstration of this is reenacted through childbirth. In the womb, the best force of life is created in darkness. In the labor process, this force of life meets light, but was already created perfect in darkness. In Kemetic history, mother NUT was the personality that continuously gives birth to light energy as she swallowed the sun (Ra) each night and gave birth to him by dawn the next day. She was the black force that oversaw humanity each night, and transferred her power of light through the daily birth to the sun. She represents the night sky: the midnight blackness dressed with millions of stars. Antiquated beliefs of blackness or darkness are perceived as symbols of power, prestige, and royalty. 

The conversation then shifted to dynastic periods with prominent dark skinned queens, kings, and pharaohs. After a long afternoon of conversations on color, I noticed a comfortable change in embracing the shades of color with questions that began with “Sooooo, how could we …? How should we…?” My final comment that night on this topic was that her blackness is her beauty. 

As we approach her 4th birthday, my niece recognizes herself as a princess, a queen in training. Her dainty personality appears to have no problems with identifying herself as a “brown” crayon. She is aware that the “brown” crayon is necessary to the bunch, and is keenly aware when it is missing. As she continues to mature, we know that her concept of color will change as well. My hope is that my family will have the confidence to teach her that her darkness is royalty, and that she will have the courage to immediately reject the negativisms that we are socialized to believe.

-Rayshana Black

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BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

This is from our personal story series curated by the creator of 50 Shades of BLACK, in partnership with I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing. Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

>>SHARE YOUR STORY<<

READ MORE STORIES

Posted on October 29, 2014 and filed under africa, art, family, Identity, personal stories, skin tone.

The Instrument of Marley, the Name of Mandela, a Movement in Kenya

The Ethics & the Arts Program and 50 Shades of Black Present:

A Foresee Films Production

MARAMASO

When: October 30, 2014  7pm - 10pm
Where: Emory University Center for Ethics

1531 Dickey Drive
Atlanta, GA  30322

Join us for the free public screening of "Maramaso" and conversation with the film director


"Maramaso" is a documentary that follows peace activist/musician Nelson Mandela Akello as he attempts to use his music to dissuade tribal violence during the hotly contested 2013 Kenyan presidential elections.

"Maramaso" was directed and edited by Emory alumna, Laura Asherman, produced by Ashley Beckett and shot by Atlanta-based cinematographer, Michael Morgan. "Maramaso" was an official selection of the Film Aid International Film Festival.

"Maramaso" was narrated by 50 Shades of Black creator Carlton Mackey.

Free visitor parking is available at 29 Eagle Row (on campus).

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, music.

50 Shades of Black Invites You to Join Descendants of Enslaved Africans on Butler Island to Create Transforming Portrait Series

Mr. Henry Brooks, ex-slave. Parks Ferry Road, Greene County, Georgia | Photo by Jack Delano;

Mr. Carlton Mackey | Photo by Bryan Meltz

In one week the creator of 50 Shades of Black, Carlton Mackey, will host a transforming photographic encounter as part of the Third Annual Butler Island Plantation Homecoming, --the much anticipated celebration and reunion of the Gullah/Geechee communities of Butler Island.  

This conceptual portrait series titled "BRINGING THE GIFTS THAT THE ANCESTORS GAVE..." was inspired by the conclusion of the late Maya Angelou's poem.

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave. - Maya Angelou

Through a process that is as much about honoring the ancestors and spiritual transformation as it is about photography, Mackey will invite participants to spend some moments in quiet meditation while looking through the photographs of former enslaved Africans from various parts of Georgia.  Mackey was doing just this when the idea first "awakened in his spirit".

Mackey states that he saw a photo online that essentially instructed him exactly what to do.  He paired this image with one of himself and was overcome with emotion.

"I knew something powerful was about to take place because I was experiencing anxiety all morning.  I knew I needed to make a post about the fact that we had been invited to host an Open Shoot as part of the Homecoming, but I kept putting it off.  I was experiencing fear about the whole event.  This let me know that something of great magnitude was about to happen.  Virtually every endeavor that I'm about to embark upon of significance is shrouded in fear and doubt.  This is my sign that it must be something that I have to do.  I'm learning to push through it until I have the clarity of knowing what is possible is greater than the fear.  What I didn't know was that my entire plan for hosting a traditional Open Photo Shoot was about to be exchanged for a plan that literally came from "the voice" of an ancestor in a photograph." -carlton mackey

Title: "Grandma" Lawrence, ex-slave on the Mercer Reynolds place in Greene County, Georgia | Delano, Jack photographer | Date Created/Published: 1941 May.

Participants will choose a photo (or be chosen by one) to honor.  At various locations on Butler Island, Mackey will photograph participants in a similar fashion.  This pairing is meant to invoke the essence of the living participant being the embodiment of the "dream and hope of the slave".  The pool of photos will mostly be from the Library of Congress (U.S. Farm Security Administration) and have no restrictions upon use and images from the Emory University's Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection.  Mackey hopes to secure funds to create an exhibit of diptychs coupling the historic and the contemporary photos.

Free and Open to the Public

This photo shoot will be part of a much larger Butler Plantation Homecoming.  The Butler Plantation Homecoming pays tribute to those enslaved Africans that lived out their lives as the property of Pierce Mease Butler on Butler Island Plantation, and those that were sold in the nation's largest sale of slaves that took place in 1859.

Please join us as we celebrate the culture and heritage of the enslaved people originating from Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Angola, Whydah and Igboland areas of Africa.

***Breaking News*** The Butler Island Plantation Slave Cemetery has been discovered! The cemetery is potentially one of the oldest documented in the state. This year's celebration will include a commemoration ceremony in honor of approximately 919 enslaved people buried in the cemetery.

The festival features a presentation by Dr. Teresa Singleton - Archaeology Professor of Syracuse University and expert in Butler Island Plantation slave artifacts; Ancestor Cemetery Commemoration; "50 Shades of Black" Open Photo Shoot; "A Taste of Geechee" food and culture; guided tours; a parade of flags; performances; music; vendors; children's activities; family fun and much more.

REGISTRATION & INFO

http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/47501-third-annual-butler-island-plantation-homecoming-festival

CAUTION AND CELEBRATION: A Reflection on the 1969 LIFE MAGAZINE feature of BLACK MODELS

"Black is Busting Out All Over" is what the title read and underneath it was a beautiful array of beautiful black people -some men, some women, some light, some dark, some with hair bone straight and others rocking afros.  To the far right of the group was a GORGEOUS sister with an afro so big you couldn't even see her ears.

This was 45 years ago and an article in Life Magazine began with these words:

When ad agencies and fashion houses began hiring black models a few years ago under pressure from the civil rights movement most of the models were not really all that black. Cautious businessmen sought out the most Caucasian looking black models they could find. Today they want blackness —Afro hair, discernably Negroid features, truly black skin.
— Vol. 67 No. 16 LIFE Magazine | October 17, 1969

It is here that we pause to celebrate an article like this being featured in LIFE Magazine AND as the creator of a project that is about celebrating blackness and its many manifestations (indeed its global presence, its multiple shades and hues), reading this with a particular type of sensitivity and caution.

I am more keenly aware than ever how statements like "not really all that black" play out in society writ large and the particular divisions it has caused in the black community in particular.  I am also keenly aware of the reality that this sentiment of 'authentic blackness' has caused an even more rigid polemic based on the TRUE historical glorifying of light skin (as evidenced by the writers reference to the preference of "Caucasian looking models by cautious businessmen").

Though the entire article doesn't necessarily carry on this tone, I'm struck by the stark dichotomy the introduction creates.  "Today they want blackness" and the litany of characteristics that the writer suggests connote black really stand out to me.  The phrases "afro hair" or "Negroid features" which I've actually never heard anyone black say, make me wonder about how the author would identify.

It also makes me wonder about Lupita in this whole scenario.  Again 45 years later, what are the wonderful wonderful wonderful implications of her face and presence on well...everything.  Also what does it mean to, as I would like to say, Leap Forward Back Down Memory Lane with an article like this?  Is her blackness being fetishized by voyeurs?

What are your thoughts?  What are the ways in which you celebrate and exercise caution with these types of approaches to "blackness"?  What are the realities this article presents?  What challenges does it present?  What are the difference between 45 years ago and now?  How would you write this article today?

Carlton Mackey
Creator of 50 Shades of Black

Posted on August 14, 2014 and filed under africa, art, Identity, race.

50 Shades of Black Hosts Opening Day of Pan African Film Festival - Atlanta

It gives us great pleasure to announce that we will be hosting the Opening Day screenings of the Pan African Film Festival on August 7, 2014 at the Historic Plaza Theater in Atlanta, GA.

As hosts, 50 Shades of Black will introduce each of the day’s screenings, lead engaging Q&A discussions after each film, and will be present with other sponsors and actor Danny Glover at the red carpet screening of “Supremacy”.  Throughout the weekend, 50 Shades of Black will also be conducting exclusive interviews with some of the festival’s biggest stars.

Beginning with the very first film “From Above”, a Shakespearean tragic love story between African and Native American main characters,  to the final film of the day Elza, [a visually beautiful tale that confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair] each of the Opening Day hosted films connect directly with the mission of 50 Shades of Black and highlight the work we are doing with some of our key partners across the country such as I Love Ancestry, National Congress of Black American Indians, Jazz WCLK, and Locs Revolution.

Screening 12:15pm - William Ward (Danny Glover) dives under the gloomy waters of his memory to recall the love story of his life with Venus, a girl belonging to the Lighting Clan, a peculiar Native American family living in Arkansas with a strange communion with electricity.

  Thanks to the introduction from our partners at&nbsp;  I Love Ancestry  , Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining&nbsp;  50 Shades of BLACK  &nbsp;tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the&nbsp;  Pan African Film &amp; Arts Festival &nbsp; (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:1  5pm]  "I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden

Thanks to the introduction from our partners at I Love Ancestry, Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining 50 Shades of BLACK tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:15pm]

"I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden


It is PAFF’s goal to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

Directly in line with the festival’s mission, 50 Shades of Black is the multimedia platform for exploring the complex relationship between race, skin tone, sexuality, and the role each play in the formation of identity. 50 Shades of Black, its creator Carlton Mackey, and its team has collaborated with visual artists, scholars, and the general public to also cultivate a deeper understanding of what diversity truly means with particular focus on the spectrum of manifestations of and understandings of "blackness".


Screening at 2:50pm - A documentary that examines with candor and humor Black women's issues regarding hair and self-esteem, and advocates for the acceptance of all hairstyle choices.  


Screening at 4:50pm - Titus is the story of a virtuoso African-American jazz musician whose damaged soul has brought him to the status of a nobody. Living in London, far from home, he’s wasting away, estranged from his one true love, his vintage alto sax. All hope looks lost until a visitor arrives, Jessica, the daughter he abandoned as a baby. Over the course of a day and night together, old demons are laid to rest and new ones are stirred, and for one last time the future is back in Titus’ hands. The poetic and soulful story of one man’s final shot at redemption – when all he’s ever known is hell.

  Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz. &nbsp;Rivablue can be heard on&nbsp;  www.wclk.com  &nbsp;mon-fri 7pm-10pm.&nbsp;

Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz.  Rivablue can be heard on www.wclk.com mon-fri 7pm-10pm. 


A young Parisian woman of Caribbean descent returns to her native island of Guadeloupe looking for the father she has never known. This visually beautiful tale confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair. 

Screening 10:10pm

JOIN US OPENING DAY!  PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE HERE

or at the Box Office Window - Plaza Theater 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave N // Atlanta, GA 30306 // 404.873.1939

 

50 Shades of Black is a signature project of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ Campaign.

 

Posted on August 2, 2014 and filed under africa, art, film, press, race, religion and culture, sexuality, skin tone.

Eastern Europe's first black mayor opens up to 50 Shades of Black in Exclusive Interview

  Eastern Europe's first black mayor opens up to Ross Oscar Knight about race, skin tone, gender equality, family and politics.

Eastern Europe's first black mayor opens up to Ross Oscar Knight about race, skin tone, gender equality, family and politics.

Today Ross Oscar Knight interviewed Mayor Peter Bossman of Piran, Slovenia. Slovenia, part of the former Yugoslavia, was the first country to gain its independence in 1991. Now part of the European Union, the country received ample media attention after Bossman was elected its first black mayor in 2010. The interview details the story of how Bossman fled Ghana in 1977 and eventually settled in Slovenia to become a doctor. Bossman and his wife are parents of two biracial daughters. During the discussion Bossman speaks of pride in his African heritage and how he has balanced his identity with Slovenian culture. 

More on this story from 50 Shades of Black.

Radmilla Cody: Dine' (Navajo) & Nahilii (African American) Woman

  Bridging the Gap with Radmilla Cody of Navajo and African heritage, and her Grandma Dorothy, Navajo (RIP)

Bridging the Gap with Radmilla Cody of Navajo and African heritage, and her Grandma Dorothy, Navajo (RIP)

...To reaffirm the statement on the choosing of my identity, I come from two beautiful cultures which I have embraced, bridged, balanced, and identify with. I am proud to be who I am as a Dine’ (Navajo) and Nahilii (African American) woman.
Hozho’, , & blessings...
— Radmilla Cody

Inspiring Radmilla is the award winner of the Record of the Year for her song "Shi Keyah Songs for the People".

:: RADMILLA CODY ::
With an angelic voice of bluebirds singing, Radmilla Cody, traditional Navajo recording artist, Indie Award Winner and two-time Native American Award Nominee continues to maintain Navajo culture by recording music that the Diné elders can be proud of and that children sing with pride.

She is of the Tla'a'schi'i' (Red-Orche-on-Cheek) clan and is born for the African-Americans. Radmilla is the 46th Miss Navajo Nation from 1997-98. Born and raised in the beautiful and picturesque plateaus of the Navajo Nation, Radmilla Cody's childhood consisted of herding sheep on foot and horseback, carding and spinning wool, and searching late into the night with her grandmother for lost sheep and their lambs. 

The highlight of her sheep herding days was standing in the sheep corral singing at the top of her lungs with the sheep and goats as her audience. "All that mattered at that time was the moment of living a dream," says Radmilla about her early life, which today has become a reality for the young musician. A survivor of domestic violence, Radmilla uses her personal experiences to advocate strongly against the epidemic of violence. 

It is an issue she has become very passionate about. As a biracial person she attempts to communicate positive messages about her dual identity to biracial or multiracial children who still bear the brunt of prejudice. 

Radmilla Cody is of the Tlaaschii (Red Bottom People) born for Nahillii (African American) and has traveled internationally to Kenya, South America, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, and Italy. 

She has earned a BS in Public Relations from Northern Arizona University and is pursuing a MA in Sociology. She was the 46th Miss Navajo and is the subject of “Hearing Radmilla”, a documentary produced and directed by Angela Webb. 

Radmilla is a domestic violence advocate and founder of “Strong Spirit…Life is Beautiful not Abusive” campaign which addresses teen dating violence. Her previous recordings for Canyon Records include Seed of Life, Spirit of a Woman and Precious Friends.

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BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future 

This is the 15th of a weekly series called BRIDGING THE GAP curated by I Love Ancestry on 50 Shades of BLACK featuring stories of inspiring people and ancestors who contributed to the struggle for freedom.

50 Shades of Black will also be curating a weekly series of stories on I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world. We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing.

Each week we will feature a story of a historical figure & one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand and celebrate your OWN identity.

Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

 

Posted on June 27, 2014 and filed under africa, family, Identity, personal stories, music, race, religion and culture, skin tone.

JUNE ARTIST PROFILE - Sarah Silberfeld: Artist, Actress, Advocate

 Featured Artist: Sarah Silberfeld | Photo by Jeffrey Galvezo Sales |  Makeup by: Alan Milroy Clothing by: Melanie Vagenheim

Featured Artist: Sarah Silberfeld | Photo by Jeffrey Galvezo Sales | Makeup by: Alan Milroy Clothing by: Melanie Vagenheim

With her captivating looks and her charming French accent, Sarah Silberfeld is an up and coming force to watch out for. Born and raised in Paris, France, her roots trace back to Mali where she is a descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali Empire.

Though Sarah began her acting career at the age of 11, she has been immersed in the arts since she was a small child; growing up as a professional ballerina. She is multi-talented as an actress, musician, dancer, and model. The impressive list of talents she has acquired doesn't simply suggest natural giftedness.  In actuality, it proves how ambitious this up and comer is.

  Photo from *Me There by Lia Saïdi.

Photo from *Me There by Lia Saïdi.

Although only 19 years old she has already starred in an award-winning short film, Me There opposite actor Mabö Kouyaté who just finished performing in John Malkovitch's play adaptation of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”. The film tells the story of first love in the streets of Paris. 

Sarah recently played the lead role in Rahmatou Keïta's film Jin’naariya!, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last month. The film was deeply personal for Sarah as it required her to speak Songhoy (the national language of Niger), her native tongue.

 Silberfeld in Jin'aariya Directed by Rahmatou Keita

Silberfeld in Jin'aariya Directed by Rahmatou Keita

The reason this is such significance is because there are very few movies made in the country's original language.  Titles and languages often change in order draw the largest audience.  Seeing that the script to Golden Ring/Jin'aariya was still in the original language and that it placed emphasis on Songhoy and its culture was not only an honor for this amazing young actress, but it shows versatility in the characters she can portray. 

 Roxane Awa Silla-Depardieu, Piper de Palma, Ali Aroyan, Sarah Silberfeld in Ride or Die

Roxane Awa Silla-Depardieu, Piper de Palma, Ali Aroyan, Sarah Silberfeld in Ride or Die

Sarah is starring in Ride or Die, which is being considered for production and Sarah is being considered for a lead role, alongside co-stars Roxanne Depardieu and Piper De Palma. The edgy film tells the story of a group of Los Angeles teens and their relationship with prescription drugs.

Sarah's dream is to continue working as an actress, working on independent material surrounding multi-ethnic stories. She hopes to raise awareness about issues that are often left out of mainstream cinema and create a dialogue about the complicated issues of our 21st century society. Her passion for theater and her love for the art of storytelling will undoubtedly lead her to bigger and better things yet to come.

Posted on June 3, 2014 and filed under africa, art, film.

Brian Kamanzi: My Story as a South African Indian Ugandan

My name is Brian, in 1990 I was born to a South African Indian mother and a Ugandan father in Mthatha, a small city located in the hilly region of what is still often referred to as the Transkei in the heart of the Eastern Cape.

During Apartheid the Transkei (or Republic of Transkei was a designated Bantustan for the Xhosa.

This is my home.

When I introduce myself as someone who grew up in Mthatha it is often accompanied with a great deal of surprise.. And more often than not I am prompted to prove my authenticity by answering a series of questions.. Because, I mean, why would I be from Mthatha right? *sigh*

Surprising as it may be the Transkei has been home for a fairly large, diverse and reasonably well integrated immigrant community for several decades. Many internationals in the area, including my father, were employed by what was then called the University of Transkei. It was there that the unlikely union of my parents began, in the midst of turbulent race relations across South Africa in what was a small town with entire neighbourhoods filled with academics from Kenya, Poland, Uganda, India and many more.. Sounds romantic doesn’t it?

In reality it was probably not as integrated and accepting as I imagined.. But for now please humour my romanticism’s…

It was in this environment that I began my early childhood life, in a suburb called Fort Gale. This suburb was largely owned by the University and many families of the staff lived in apartment complexes and homes across our neighbourhood. In my early years I was very fortunate to be surrounded by several members of my fathers side of the family from Kenya and Uganda. So much of my earliest memories are of thoughts and experiences I shared with them.. They were all older than me and I looked up to them immensely.

Most of my mothers side of the family lived in Durban and while we did not see each other often, I felt a strong connection to them whenever we saw one another. Regular visits from my grandmother often included every Indian dish she could fit into her luggage that would survive the 6 hour bus trip on our roads. I looked forward to those sweet meats and curries and strange deserts packed meticulously in her cases. I remember she always used to ask if we ate “hot” food, this confused me because my parents cooked curries regularly and I didn’t think anything by it.. So answered that same question – year after year. In the early years it did not occur to me in any sort of profound way that I was biracial.. Or that it was unusual, it simply just was. I liked fried green bananas from Uganda in the summer and I loved the jalebi in the spring time from Grandmother’s visits.. That was my experience of my heritage, through our conversations, through shared meals and through the stories of the old days in far away lands. I assumed this is how it was for everyone.. In some ways I was right.. But in painful ways I was very wrong.

As I grew older I started to become aware of this thing called”race”. It was something quite unfamiliar in my house, we didn’t speak about people this way. When it came to start navigating school this started to become an important thing. “What are you?”. In all honesty more often than not this question was answered for me in one way or another. “Well your dad is Ugandan so that makes you Ugandan”. “Doesn’t that make you coloured”. “You kind of look more Indian”. If I’m to completely honest, I was very uncomfortable about all this growing up. I hated these questions. I am ashamed to admit that at several moments, particularly in Primary school, I lied about my heritage in the hope that I would gain the elusive acceptance with my Indian classmates. I wanted to be like them. They had a special regard for their culture, they were always talking about some community event or something, I desperately wanted to be a part of it and feel like I belonged. But I could not. At the end of the day, I was not Indian enough.

By the time I had reached high school my extended family had all left the Transkei. There where not that many young Ugandans in my age group but we all knew each other and in most cases we were all friends. In all fairness we were not the most cultural lot, growing up spending most of our days watching British and American television and playing video games we did not share a collective cultural identity.. At least not one that I was aware of. I could not find what I was looking for there, I felt. So I kept trying, probably not in the most productive ways but trying nonetheless.

Family holidays *Ugh*
My parents are workaholics, during the year there is rarely a moment when they aren’t doing something productive. So when it came to the end of the year they were adamant that we go on holiday to explore the country and get away from it all. They love nature. I hated these trips. We always went to obscure but beautiful parts of the country, and while I was always grateful to be there I dreaded going outside. Walking around town with my entire family made me very self conscious about how other people where looking at us. I was and I still am ashamed about how I felt about this. I know I shouldn’t have cared but I couldn’t ignore how different we looked to the other families. We all looked so different from each other. I felt somehow embarrassed about what I am, very sensitive to how other people would treat us, increasingly bitter. I regret feeling like this on those trips, it was an amazing opportunity to see the country but no matter where we went I couldn’t bring myself to care about what the landscapes looked like or what the wildlife was up to…

I started to become aware that I had a chip on my shoulder, for some reason I felt defensive and in a sense bitter with the world. I had really begun defining myself in opposition to others. I started to think of myself as an other. This was not how I was raised. My mother would have been very upset if she ever knew I was looking at life like that.. So I kept it to myself.

I was lucky enough to gain entry into the University of Cape Town after high school. I was incredibly excited to head off to the big city. This was a chance to redefine myself. To be just Brian and not have every stare at me when I walk with my family through a mall or when my father fetches me from a local barber shop. I was finally free. Or so I thought. Within minutes of arriving into the residence where I spent my first two years I was faced with that painstaking moment where you need to decide where you’re going to sit in the cafeteria. As I looked out into the hall it may as well have been colour coded. At a glance, white students sat with white students, black students with black students.. And well you get the idea. Luckily I spotted a senior of mine from high school sitting in a fairly mixed table (although it was predominantly Indian) and I chose my seat. It took me a very long time before I developed the confidence to break the barriers that existed in my own mind and decide to sit at other tables. I really wish I had been braver sooner.

Even though it took me quite a while to break out of my comfort zone I was lucky enough to befriend many students from all walks of life quite early on, many of which had similar identity problems to me. I often reflect on many conversations with my dear late friend Steven who was of Taiwanese ancestry but had spent his whole life in South Africa. He had a wonderful spirit and an approach to life that really impacted my thinking. Steven was the among first of the many young people I would go on to meet here who were unashamedly themselves… And were okay with that

In my first year I met a group of students who were born and raised in Uganda. We quickly became very good friends, I was fascinated about them. I gorged myself on their stories and descriptions of home. I learnt the slang and was quickly starting to feel like I was part of a community where I belonged. There are many East African’s here and they formed quite a close knit group, they embraced me warmly and I appreciated it deeply. For the first time many people sounded excited to hear that I was biracial, apparently it was interesting. I started to speak proudly about my heritage… and then as though the universe had conspired to respond to my encounters my father had arranged for us to visit Uganda at the end of that year. This was it, I thought. This would be the moment where I could find out where I belonged… Were I would feel some kind of spiritual connection to my fatherland and magically everything would make sense once and for all…

As you’ve probably guessed my trip didn’t really work out that way. But that’s another story. I hope you found this interesting, let me know what you think and look out for Part 2!

Photo and story submitted by Brian Kamanzi
More of Brian's writings may be found on his website www.briankamanzi.wordpress.com
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This is our 15th weekly personal story in a series curated by the creator of 50 Shades of BLACK, in partnership with I Love Ancestry called BRIDGING THE GAP featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world. 

Each week we will feature one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand/celebrate your OWN identity.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing. Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

SHINNECOCK INDIANS OF EASTERN LONG ISLAND - Bridge between American Indians and Black Americans

  RUBEN VALDEZ &amp; CORTLAND CUFFEE with Tuwesu. Shinnecock &amp; African heritage. &nbsp; (c) Photo courtesy of Toba Tucker.

RUBEN VALDEZ & CORTLAND CUFFEE with Tuwesu. Shinnecock & African heritage.  (c) Photo courtesy of Toba Tucker.

BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

The Shinnecock Nation is one of the living proof of the historical alliances between American Indians and Black Americans.

SHINNECOCK INDIANS OF EASTERN LONG ISLAND.
The Shinnecock Nation is a federally recognized American Indian Nation, located on the East End of Long Island adjacent to the Town of Southampton. Federal recognition was achieved October 1, 2010, after thousands of years of documented history on Long Island, and 32 years of struggle with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As the 565th federal tribe, its banner has taken its place among other tribal flags at the U.S. Department of the Interior, BIA, Hall of Flags, Washington, D.C.
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This is the 12th of a weekly series called BRIDGING THE GAP curated by I Love Ancestry on 50 Shades of BLACK featuring stories of inspiring people and ancestors who contributed to the struggle for freedom.

50 Shades of Black will also be curating a weekly series of stories on I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world. We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing.

Each week we will feature a story of a historical figure & one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand and celebrate your OWN identity.

Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

Poet of Choctaw, Coharie, Cherokee & African Heritage asks: "Who's Afraid of Black Indians?"

Bridging the Gap with Shonda Buchanan of Choctaw, Coharie, Cherokee & African heritage. Award-winning poet and fiction writer, author of "Who's Afraid of Black Indians?"

"Trust the first drum, your heart, for all your answers. The ancestors will follow..." ~Shonda Buchanan

POEM: "The Trail" by Shonda Buchanan
(For the Staffords, Roberts, Manuels and Mathews)

These are the holes
That fill you up
A morning after 4th
Of July
The empty hollow
A memory in the fire
The quiet morning
Rises
Death of father
Suicide of a nephew
Addiction of sister
Another nephew at war
His brother, prison
Pummeling of a mother and aunts
The breaking of lives without a sound.
No honor in their deaths or mistakes
No memory of them, except here

These are the shimmering calcified minutes
The spotted ghosts of a black Indian’s
Midwest life

Where nothing and everything changed
In the fires that burned your farm houses down
And you wonder how you would
Have been or grown
How you would have loved
Had not this or this happened

I remember another July
Years past, under the glass of time
When we were all together, laughing
Spit-polished by hard love
Smoky with hunger for the future
When memory was a thing
Yet to come

~Shonda Buchanan
Photo: Nottoway pow wow in Surry, VA

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BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

This is the 11th of a weekly series of posts curated by I Love Ancestry on 50 Shades of BLACK featuring stories of inspiring people and ancestors who contributed to the struggle for freedom.

50 Shades of Black will also be curating a weekly series of stories on I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing.

Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

Each week we will feature a story of a historical figure & one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand and celebrate your OWN identity.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

Posted on April 28, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, history, Identity, personal stories.

Wonderroot Podcast: Interview with the Creator of 50 Shades of Black

In this WonderRoot Artist Feature Carlton Mackey, creator of "50 Shades of Black", talks with WR Interactive Media Manager Floyd Hall about the origins of the project, its evolution as a platform for dialogue about race, sexuality, and identity, and why the tag line "Beautiful In Every Shade" is so meaningful.

For more information on 50 Shades of Black, visit: http://50shadesofblack.com

WonderRoot is an Atlanta-based non-profit arts and service organization with a mission to unite artists and community to inspire positive social change. By providing production facilities to Atlanta-based artists and coordinating arts-based service programs, WonderRoot empowers artists to be proactive in engaging their communities through arts-based service work. For more information, please visit:

http://wonderroot.org 
http://facebook.com/wonderpage 
http://twitter.com/wonderroot 
http://instagram.com/wonderroot

Introducing The New Cool Kids On The Scene: The Tenth Zine

As a black, gay writer, I’m always happy when I see people from my community planting a flag in the world of media, whether it be behind the scenes, writing or designing, or giving me LIFE in pixelated in pixelated form in glossy pages or on my computer screen.

Earlier this month, I’d heard about a new magazine geared toward the black gay community called The Tenth, the first independently published project from the Brooklyn-based Pink Rooster Studio. Recently my 50 Shades of BLACK cohorts, Carlton Mackey and Chris Barker, and I checked out the online site and we all raved at what came across our screens.

 The creators of Pink Rooster Studio, &nbsp; André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

The creators of Pink Rooster Studio, André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

In the past, friends and I have complained about black gay magazines focusing too heavily on the fluff of party scenes, well-oiled Adonis models, flyers, ads, flyers and more ads. But The Tenth, though only offering a glimpse into its pages on the site, seems to skew left of middle and simultaneously travels the roads of art, fashion, sex appeal and literature.

Boasting more than 80 contributors for its first bi-annual issue, which was released on April 10, The Tenth promises offerings from the likes of performance artist Andre Singleton, fashion designer Telfar Clemens, photographers Idris & Tony, activist Darnell Moore, contemporary artist Rashaad Newsome, and literary critic William Johnson.

"We really talk about what's happening now in our culture and have no agenda to represent an image or counter any perception. We just want to play in the sandbox with other exceptional black gay boys and be faggy and angry and smart and silly and beautiful and ugly and radical and perhaps more than anything just learn to trust each other through collaboration. It really has been an incredible experience," said the founders of Pink Rooster studios to Huffington Post.

"The work is born out of our queerness. We know that we, as black gay men will always be forced into a box. This is us coloring that box, and that is a very queer thing. Making anything beautiful, elegant, and joyous," they added.

Yet, most intriguing, so far, is the Courtney Harvier helmed short film "The Masters." Perhaps playing on the layered opening phrase of “I Saw Africa On His Mind,” the stunning visual piece showcases black men, slaves, on the plantations of the south as they work the fields and their master’s home, all the while yearning for the freedom of their homeland, as well as the solace and familiarity of each other’s bodies and hearts. It’s provocative and immediately enthralling and undeniably an awesome teaser for the work that’s the come from The Tenth.

If you want to know more, check out The Tenth website here. And be sure to watch "The Masters" below. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on April 19, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, blog, Body Image, LGBT, Masculinity, sexuality.

African, Native American, Irish, & Italian: I Am Here

 I AM HERE

I AM HERE

My name is Linda Simpson [Bradford] Jenkins. I am the youngest of three siblings, and the only biological child of my parents' union. I grew up in a deeply spiritual family who loved and fought fiercely for what they believed in. 

My father, the great grandson of freed mulatto slaves, was raised by his maternal grandparents. Although my grandparents weren't married, cemetery records and oral accounts from my father's second cousin, reveal a long history of connectedness between both families (Simpson and Bradford). 

The Bradfords (African and Cherokee heritage), and the Simpsons (African, European and Cherokee heritage) have been buried in the same Tennessee cemetery dating back to the 1700s. 

My mother's lineage on her mother's side is Ethiopian and Choctaw. I remember my mother talking about conversations between her mother and grandmother (who she described as Black Indians "with coal black skin and long straight coal black hair that shined as if it was always wet). She said they would "shoo the children outdoors to play" as they talked in the Choctaw language. 

To both my mother's and my dismay, my grandmother's children never fully learned, and ultimately lost the language of their mother because my grandmother was insistent that "You kids must learn to speak English". I always felt "different" as a child--never really feeling as if I "fit it" or "was accepted". At visual appearance, I was African American, but I was always reminded at some point, that I "don't talk like us". I remember being teased by a young classmate who called me "pie face" for years. Almost 50 years later, "it all makes sense". In recent years, I started conducting my ancestry research, and the discovery has been nothing short of "liberating". 

Every child and individual should know and have access to their "culture and heritage". We are a magnificent sum of our parts, and I have much to celebrate, as do we all. I am proudly African Native American, with a dosing of Irish and Italian. I celebrate life and my ancestors each and every day, and I am loving the reddish-brown skin I'm in!

~Linda Simpson Bradford Jenkins
Photo by: Creative Silence and Edited by Carlton Mackey

Order Coffee Table Book Today from http://www.50shadesofblack.com/shop
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BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

This is our 10th weekly personal story curated by the creator of 50 Shades of BLACK, Carlton Mackey, in partnership with I Love Ancestry (facebook) www.iloveancestry.com called BRIDGING THE GAP featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world.

Each week we will feature one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand/celebrate your OWN identity.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing. Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

READ MORE STORIES

We don't look the same, but our Great (x3) Grandfather was Solomon Northup of 12 years a slave

12 years a slave family collage.jpg

My great (x3) grandfather was Solomon Northup. His life was depicted in 12 Years a Slave , last night's Oscar winner for Best  Picture.

50 Shades of Black explores sexuality and skin tone in the formation of identity.

  23, 5th great-grandson. The recent college grad has received many queries about Northup’s story and is thankful “people are interested in [my] family’s history.”

23, 5th great-grandson. The recent college grad has received many queries about Northup’s story and is thankful “people are interested in [my] family’s history.”

  46, 4th great-granddaughter. “I’m proud I came from that bloodline,” says the real estate agent who read&nbsp;  Twelve Years a Slave  &nbsp;when she was in the military. “I’m glad his story was told.”

46, 4th great-granddaughter. “I’m proud I came from that bloodline,” says the real estate agent who read Twelve Years a Slave when she was in the military. “I’m glad his story was told.”

  4, 5th great-granddaughter, daughter of&nbsp;  Justin Gilliam.

4, 5th great-granddaughter, daughter of Justin Gilliam.

 Kyle Farr  27, 4th great-grandson

Kyle Farr

27, 4th great-grandson

 Allan Scotty Cooper  63, retired, 3rd great-grandson

Allan Scotty Cooper

63, retired, 3rd great-grandson

"Bearing the gifts that the ancestors gave, I am the hope and the dream of a slave" -Maya Angelou

See More of Northup's descendents at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/12-years-a-slave-portraits-683439

Rwanda is BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE

Ross Oscar Knight Beautiful in Every Shade Rwanda_0002-sm.jpg

50 Shades of BLACK | Rwanda:

50 Shades International Liaison, Ross Oscar Knight, traveled to Rwanda this February to teach a photography workshop to a group of 30 students. He's been planning this trip for the better part of two years. "I'm so honored to have been provided the opportunity to not only teach students there, but to learn from them as well. It was fascinating to see the students eyes and minds light up with curiosity and courage," says Knight. He also spent some time engaging with the community and conducting field research about how skin tone and sexual orientation are perceived and offering the message of our global BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Campaign. This image of a young man was taken in Northern Kigali.

Stay tuned to see and hear more stories from Ross Oscar Knight reporting from around the world.

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