Archive for September, 2010


Mildred and Richard Loving

Image via Wikipedia

Dick Hebdige in his book Subculture: The Meaning of Style touches on the black community’s growth in
Britain during the Fifties among their white counterparts. With the black community being at the time a subculture, the white resistance/white flight and overall concern of the infiltration of these “others” was of great concern. However, as the white masses of London began to listen to black music, it was instantaneously contagious how the white British community found themselves bumping and grooving to the latest sounds.

My parents know about this first hand. My father was an almost jet-black,  U.S. Air Force GI from Savannah, Georgia and my mother a lily-white nursing student fresh from Dublin, Ireland. On Saturday nights the GI’s would gather and the nursing students would descend upon the local dance hall and cut the rug to the sounds of Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and any other Motown greats as the barriers to their differences would melt away. The two would marry in London and later come to the States, where I was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

I would take it a step further and say that, for the sake of my blog topic, the interracial couple was at one time a subculture. It was of course illegal to inter-marry in the U.S. until the Loving vs. the State of Virginia case. So up until the Supreme Court ruling it unconstitutional in 1967, it was against the law.

17 year-old Mildred Jeter just wanted to marry her man, 23 year-old, Richard Loving but their home state of Virginia busted in on them on the  morning of July 11, 1958 with interrogating flashlights demanding “Who is this woman you are sleeping with?” , “I am his wife” she replied, and they produced the marriage license they had just gotten from the state of Maryland. “That’s no good here”, said the sheriff.

Well, today this subculture has amassed into a full-blown community with individuals who can freely and confidently profess their love for each other and marry. More and more race-mixing is occurring in the U.S. and around the world, which as I stated in the initial entry in this blog, will culminate in a more racially ambiguous society in the future.

I cannot place any symbols with mixed-race couples or bi-racial pride but the attitude towards inter-marrying and “mixing blood” has certainly changed over the centuries. This is evident now in the prominence of multi-ethnic/bi-racial individuals in pop culture, literature, the arts, and politics for instance. There is still an issue amongst the black community between Light and Dark-skinned individuals. There is still a portion of the white community who believe it is wrong. Either way, surely but slowly, we have come to find a place in this society which no longer results in becoming “The Tragic Mulatto”.

Anti-Miscegenation Laws Poster

Meet Hans Massaquoi. He was born in Germany during the rise of the Nazis. His mother is German and his father is African. In grade school, Hans wanted to join the Hitler Youth Corps but he was never allowed to fight due to his “impurity”, or race. He would always be considered a second class citizen which, kept him out of the war and alive on the streets.

Look at the swastika on his sweater.

He has an interesting story to tell.

He later came to the United States and became a journalist and writer, working for JET magazine.

His book is titled Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany.

UNDERCOVERS

Let’s discuss the fineness that is Boris Kodjoe for a sec.

I’m about to eat and get nestled in for the premiere of NBC’s new show with BLACK PEOPLE since The Cosbys!!!

UNDERCOVERS is about a married couple who are spies. That’s all I know. I’m there.

Boris is of German and Ghanian decent. He is the business.

I will find out more about his lovely co-star but for right now……Boris is “that dude”.

Loving father, devoted husband and just over six feet of delicious.

Gotta run…

The Princess and the Frog: Original Songs and ...

Image via Wikipedia

The film “The  Princess and the Frog” garnered both accolades and criticism regarding the portrayal of their first animated feature film with an African-American in the lead role. A Princess, no doubt, to add to the bountiful everything-else-but images we have been inundated with up until this time. Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, and they even had Mulan, Pocahontas and Jasmine thrown in for good measure but until this film, all the little black girls did not see their own likeness reflected in these movies. 

I had heard some grumblings from my friends who were going to boycott “The Princess and the Frog” saying “why she gotta be the Princess of the Swamp?” lol. But I dressed my daughter up like the princess she is and we happily bought our tickets to this historical event. 

One thing is certain though. How white was John Smith to the Indian Pocahontas? And Prince Charming from Cinderella? There was no mistaking the “whiteness” of these male protagonists who epitomized the alpha male which all young girls came to idealize as the archetype for the “man of their dreams”. 

Let’s look at Naveen, the Prince of Monrovia. 

He’s in-between..Racially ambiguous.  

And most other Disney covers feature both the love interest and the Princess, yet her cover is her kissing a frog. 

Perhaps the marketability of this film depended on whether, what Disney perceived, as the general public not being ready to accept a full-on love story between a black woman and a white man. In regular, non-animated films we still have yet to see a variety of films which include a black woman and a white man since Jungle Fever. 

Hopefully, we can get there one day as in real life this is not the case. 

At least my daughter can see herself represented in the Disney Princess collection now. I guess we have to take it one step at a time.

“Oye Como Va”

I was listening to mi musica salsa and I always wondered about the first line of this song by Santana :

Oye como va? Mi ritmo, bueno pa’ gozar, mulatta”

I found this website upon looking for a translation and here, it becomes a discussion about “mulattas”. Interesting.

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4651

A girl in an ad says “People can relate to me because I am racially ambiguous”..

What does that mean?

It basically means your ethnicity cannot easily be determined upon first glance.

“What ARE you?”

Some examples…

I’m late….

I’m JUST finding out that KAREN….

isKidadaJones.

Used to hang tough w/ Aaliyah back in the day and is, of course, Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton’s daughter….

Aaliyah

Aaliyah

 

I have YET…to see an episode of “Mod Squad”…

It’s on my list…..(Netflix shud have it).

Quincy Jones at Consumer Electronics Show 2006

Quincy Jones

Tige Andrews with Mod Squad co-stars, Michael ...
Image via Wikipedia

Oh You Fancy, Huh?

 http://www.mtv.com/videos/misc/559930/fancy-live.jhtml#more

Nails done, hair done, everything big.

Drake’s hot performance last night on MTV Video Music Awards.

My fave R&B singer, MJB.
Hot producer and Mr. Alicia Keys, Swizz Beats.
And of course, the hottest mulatto in Rap right now: Drake

(((((video wont post….dammit)))

Nice.

***Marx and Benjamin**

This week I would like to talk about the gris-gris bag.

Gris-gris

Image via Wikipedia

In our class discussion we spoke of Marxism and Bejamin’s theories on commodification, or the fetishism of commodities. In my studies on mulatta conjure women, there is the object called a gris-gris bag. This object is made of sack cloth, linen, or cotton and contains items specific for the purpose of healing, warding off unwanted spirits or providing protection, to name a few. This can include nails, rocks, glass, seashells, hair or other articles in the area that can affect the person who carries the gris-gris bag, or the object of their affection/repulsion.

Marx says that objects alone are not powerful but it is the faith we put in these objects which gives them power thus the object becomes a fetish. In Voodoo, hoodoo and any pagan religions, these objects become a source of power for the believer who goes to a conjure woman and has one made. Comparatively, in Christianity, specifically Catholicism which existed side-by-side with VooDoo in New Orleans, the cross is nothing but two pieces of wood, much like the example Marx uses of the table. However, pieces of wood made into a cross become a symbol of worship for those who believe in it.


Madame Marie  Leveau of New Orleans was one such conjure woman. Infamous for her power and influence over the people of New Orleans, she turned her magic into a commodity; she began producing these fetishes to survive. Wives wanting their wandering husbands to return home, men who wanted to be more desirable to the opposite sex, mothers hoping to protect their children departing overseas, whatever the reason, there was a gris-gris bag she could make to help you. As her premonitions and spells rang truer than any other conjure woman in the area, she became increasingly popular and her grave is still visited to this day.

Marie Laveau

Image by howieluvzus via Flickr

I would not argue that she produced these items for trade, as she did not charge based on the amount of labor, there was one base fee, but she did create an economy for them as she was eventually producing commodities for exchange/profit.

Benjamin would argue that the mass production of these gris-gris bags would change the way her believers valued them. Mass production leads to an impersonal disconnection between the artist and “the work”. Her popularity rose because each individual felt a personal connection with Madame Leveau so any feeling that these were “made in Taiwan” would diminish the value therefore her reputation.

Faith is a very strong motivator and whatever faith we place in objects and people dictates our characters, value systems and shapes our lives.

Watching the news this week has certainly demonstrated the faith of Muslims in the Qur’an and the blatant lack thereof of those who place no value in it. It is, in essence, just a book made up of printed pages which contain the fundamental ideology of their faith. However, the burning of the words of the prophet Muhammad and his teachings, their value system, their way of life, is in their eyes blasphemous. No matter what the object is, the person who puts faith in that object is a believer. Whether you agree with it or not.

Qu'ran

Spread Love.