Tag: blogger

You’re “too black” for carnival, luv


When the Guardian Newspaper brought to light that a Globeleza carnival queen lost her title because she is “too black”, I was shocked.

I still am; actually I feel sadness more than anything.

Racism and its cancerous child, colourism are such primitive constructs, but their foundations seem unshakable.

The video below, reminds me again that colourism, is very much a part of black culture in the diaspora.

colourism in the black community, racism, black men, black women

 

In Brazil, a country reported to contain the highest proportion of black people outside of Africa – a carnival samba queen who won by public vote, was subjected to racist comments online, by white, mixed and black Brazilians! Following the abuse that she suffered, she was then stripped of her crown without explanation. Later replaced by a lighter-skinned samba queen, who didn’t win by public vote.

I’ve been to Brazil and I noticed a socio-economic colour divide. I saw more brown skinned people when I visited the favelas than I did while walking through the pretty suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. I remember some of the surprised looks from hotel staff when they saw me walking through the hotel; maybe they were not used to seeing black people in hotels on the Copacabana beach front. Some people thought I was Brazilian, so maybe that’s what threw them off.

You can hear how the carnival queen, was stripped of her crown and how she felt in this video.

brazil samba queen, black brazilians, brazilian women

 

It’s enough that other races see black people at the bottom of the food chain, but how do we see ourselves?

The samba queen above was ridiculed because of her skin tone by black Brazilians too. I’m not giving a pass to some people of other races who may have an habitual disdain for dark skin, but we are also perpetrators in this colourism crime.

The inception of the trans-Atlantic slave trade solidified the perception that dark skin women are less ‘beautiful’ and even less human than their white and lighter skinned counterparts.

White supremacy notions of beauty and superiority have been propagated from generation to generation by black people to their children, because of oppression. Not surprising as this is what we’ve been taught. We’re still subjecting ourselves to these negative stereotypes consciously and/or subconsciously. Dispelling such stereotypes seems to be a never ending PR exercise, but will become an impossible task if we’re  complicit in keeping those ideologies alive. A waste product of being divided and conquered.

The US, is another country with a large proportion of black people and probably has the most famous civil rights history in the world. When rapper Kendrick Lamar, casted a dark skinned girl in his music video Poetic Justice, nearly three years ago, it became a talking point, within the black music culture community.

Why?

Why would casting a dark skinned black girl in a hip hop music video even be a cause for discussion?

 

This isn’t a pity party, yes there are black women who are given opportunities, like Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o. However, the fact that their prominence was such landmark moment when it happened, during the millennium, shows there is still some way to go.

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The diversity of Ghanaian artists


Art classes were the bane of my existence at school. I wasn’t born to paint (which is fine 🙂 and I realized that early on in life (with the help of a mean art teacher!). I’ve always envied those who can tell stories or capture moment with a sculpture or drawing.

I don’t really think of art as synonymous with Africans, and put that down to being raised in Europe where we’re force fed European art. I guess it’s also my fault for not being proactive in searching for African artists too! Academically, art isn’t a subject that is high on the agenda for most African parents in the diaspora or on the continent for that matter. Rarely are African children encouraged to purse their artistic side or made to believe it’s as a viable career choice.

African art and Artists are quite neglected compared to their European or American counterparts. The Foundation for Contemporary Art-Ghana (FCA), is one of its kind in the country, with a mission “to create an active network of artists, offer a platform for the presentation of contemporary art, and to develop a critical forum for the promotion of contemporary art in Ghana.” The growing collection of ‘Africa/ Africa Diaspora’ section of the resource centre focuses on artists working in Africa and its diaspora. After devastating floods in Ghana’s capital Accra, the FCA is asking for donations to rebuild the foundations headquarters and restore books and other valuables that were destroyed.

The diaspora has showcased it talents in various forms, more recently in portrayal of African-American celebrities wearing African garb, by Dennis Owusu-Ansah which grabbed viral attention on social media.

Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday, African print, kente cloth
Check out @densahcl on instagram. More like African print than PinkPrint: Nicki Minaj

Dennis was apparently inspired to do the drawings after his friend was ridiculed by people in the street for wearing the traditional Ghanaian kente cloth. Dennis wanted to erase some of the ignorance surrounding an aspect of African culture.

Rick Ross rapper, African garb
The self confessed ‘Boss’ – Rick Ross

 

puff daddy, African print, Ghana art, African art
Bad Boy for life – Sean ‘Puffy Combs

 

Obama Africa, Martin Luther king, men in African print
The dreamers…

 

Internationally celebrated Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, who’s sculptures have taken prominent stages in New York and Sydney, is described as ‘reflecting devastation and colonisation’, in his work. Anatsui was winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

07_ElAnatsui_new york
Anatsui’s 2012 ‘Tiled Flower Garden’, which snakes 30 feet across the gallery floor. © El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

This year, his work showcased in Sydney, is a celebration of 50 years of work. Comprising drawings, wall and floor installations, as well as woodcarvings incorporating West African adinkra symbols.

Renowned architect, David Adjaye’s structural designs can be found across continents. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents; there’s no doubt his eclectic upbringing has contributed to his architectural prowess.

“By the time I was 14, I had lived in Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Nairobi, Cairo, Beirut, Accra and Jedda, and had quite a complex view of Africa.”

 

Adjaye Associates has its African headquarters in Accra Ghana, and is focusing on various architectural projects in Africa. David has various creations outside of Africa, including the Stephen Lawrence Centre in London. However, multiple attacks by racist vandals led the Architect to admit his creation was actually a failure.

“Yes, the project has failed. It’s gated, it has security cameras everywhere and it has barbed wire. But that is because of the context we are in now. I hope that in 10 years or in five years this changes.”

Stephen Lawrence centre, architecture, london architecture
The centre built in honour of the slain black teenager, Stephen Lawrence.

 

Anyone who knows African culture is acutely aware that funerals are a big deal! There is no difference in Ghana, where craftsmanship is expressed throughout Ghanaian life, from the beginning to the end, literally! Who said a coffin was just a box?! Novelty coffins are becoming more and more popular in Ghana.

bespoke coffins, african coffin makers, hand made coffins
Paa Joe is said to be one of Ghana’s most famous coffin makers; with his creations reaching the UK and USA.

 

Creativity never likes being restricted, life experiences and cultures are the basis of any art form, whether it be song, dance, words, paintings or structures. Artists want to be known as just that….Artists.

“I have a genetic relationship to the continent, also a cultural and lived relationship. I now have an office in Ghana and other places [but] I am less interested in the definition than I am in the way I can use it to produce in the world.” David Adjaye, Architect.

 

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Motivated start 2016! #Quotes for the week


So Mondays are back! It’s the first Monday of 2016 and as they say: Start as you mean to go on. Let’s stay motivated from beginning to the end.

 

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” – Steve Jobs

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela

quote - she believed

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined”. – David Henry Thoreau

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. – Allen Saunders

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