Coffee Rhetoric: Africa
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

August 23, 2012

Secret History of the Black Pinup: Drum Magazine and James Barnor

This latest piece on the rare histories of Black pinup models [publications and photographers] led me in a different direction, so I put a story I’d been researching on a noted Black burlesque performer on the back-burner for now, to feature this one. 

My interest in the lives of vintage Black pinup models and the people curating their images has usually been relegated to the stories of people here in the United States. But Drum magazine was an essential part of African politics and growing trends, during a time when seeing a Black model in the 1960s was a rare occurrence in the U.K., just as it was here in the U.S.  Much in the same way John Moorehead had done for Jet magazine and other media platforms of the time, famed Ghanaian fashion photographer and photojournalist James Barnor also served as a pioneer in the world of fashion photography and photojournalism, within the realm of the Diaspora.

May 08, 2012

Documentary Short: 'Shadeism' - A Global Look at Colorism

Bleached Kwaito singer, Mshoza 
"Shadeism" is a short 2010 documentary, written and directed by up-and-coming Canadian filmmaker Nayani Thiyagarajah (a young woman of South East Asian descent), and it details intra-racial discrimination experienced by young women of the Caribbean, South East Asian, and African Diasporas, as they navigate the trials and tribulations of having dark skin and the Colorism they face within their respective communities.

We often hear narratives from people who've experienced Colorism within Black-American communities, but Shadeism takes a more global look at the issue and its impact on young women of color. Intra-racial discrimination tends to be a hot-button issue whenever the topic is broached. It ruffles people's feathers because, speaking within the context of my own (Black-American) community, folks deny the prevalence of the issue, and the dialogue never extends beyond the superficial claim of it merely being a self-esteem issue. Colorism is institutional and it's structural. Darker-skinned people (women especially) are denied jobs, are subject to erroneous racial stereotypes, and are railroaded by the prison industrial complex.  

It's a destructive message that's notoriously perpetuated by the media, fashion and entertainment industries, and the cult of celebrity. Even casting calls for car commercials require that
only light-skinned Blacks need apply.

In India and various parts of the Caribbean and Africa, the skin-lightening cream industry continues to thrive, as people seek quick-and-easy ways to become the fairest one of all. 

Shadeism from refuge productions on Vimeo.

August 15, 2011

Ousmane Sembène's 'Black Girl'

Since I'm one of the people that have little to no desire to see The Help and tried (to no avail) to finish Kathryn Stockett's book, I decided to re-visit a 1966 French classic from the New Wave era, called La Noire de... (or Black Girl). Written and directed by Senegalese filmmaker and auteur Ousmane Sembène (christened the Father of African film). 

La Noire de...charts the tragic story of Diouana, a young woman from Dakar who moves to Antibes, France to work for the wealthy French couple she nannied for during their time in Dakar. Excited, Diouana looks forward to taking in the sites of the Riviera and living a cosmopolitan life as she cares for her young charges, however, upon her arrival to Antibes she finds that her mercurial mistress has other plans for her... Diouana is treated harshly (much to the indifference of the man of the house) like a servant; not allowed to leave the confines of the apartment or wear any of the nicer clothes she brought with her. She's not paid in a timely fashion either. Aware of her exploitation in Antibes, a defiant Diouana starts to withdraw and becomes increasingly overwhelmed by homesickness and despair. 

Black Girl definitely touches on the effects of colonialism, post-colonialism, and racism within the confines of Europe and Africa. During one scene Diouana is asked to cook a traditional Senegalese dish for her employers- (she mentally notes that she never had to cook for them when she worked as their nanny in Dakar)- and their affluent friends during a gathering. They openly discuss her exoticism. One of the men excitedly jumps up and demands a kiss, as he's "never kissed a Black girl before." 
This film is subtle and the black and white cinematography is simple; yet La Noire de... is hauntingly tragic in its message, commands attention, and is definitely still relevant as it charts the devastating toll anti-Blackness, postcolonialism, and misogynoir takes mentally, emotionally, and physically.