Fight the Power!

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Denisio and Mwende / Featured Fashions / Guest Photographer / Uncategorized

Photos by Aline Maia

ALINE MAIA -photographer: I came to New Orleans in August 2015 to do part of my doctorate research in Communication. I am Brazilian, woman, black, journalist and researcher. During my fieldwork, I was surprised by this city of many colors, rhythms and flavors. In addition to stories and History. Not only Jazz living Nola. “The most Latin of the United States” – as many people say – showed me amazing folks and places. It was how I met Mwende and Denisio. It was how I discovered the historical marker Homer Plessy. In this photo shoot, Past and Present meet at the corner of resistance. The site where Civil Rights activist Homer Plessy was arrested in 1890 is today the scenery where body and fashion debate identity, representation, preservation, and memory. At the crossroad of the Press Street and Royal Street, the arrest of Homer Plessy led to a major US Supreme Court ruling (Plessy v. Ferguson) which led to the sanctioning of racial formal segregation in the United States from 1896 to 1954. For me, exploring New Orleans has become also a way of recognizing voices that build fighting trajectories for equality, whether individual or collective. Thank you Mwende and Denisio for having my gaze.


Post Soundtrack: Fight the Power (Public Enemy)

FEATURED FASHIONS – The Bombchel Factory: The Bombchel Factory is an African fashion wonderland that produces ethically made, high quality garments for sale in Monrovia, Liberia that was started by Archel Bernard, a Liberian-American whose parents fled civil unrest in the West African country. Our team of expert tailors and excited trainees can produce much more than we can sell locally, so we have set our sights on the rest of the world. This is not an NGO that is here today and gone tomorrow. We know Liberians don’t want handouts.  Our trainees will develop a trade and a way to support themselves and their families, and we will create gorgeous, contemporary African fashions for a global market.

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“I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped”

“Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps”

“Sample a look back you look and find”

“nothing but Rednecks for four hundred years if you check”

“What we got to say? Power to the people no delay”


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“To make everybody see”


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“In order to fight the powers that be”

-Public Enemy, Fight the Power

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DENISIO TRUITT

SHIRT belongs to my partner Mike, he got it from the Buffalo Exchange in New Orleans ten years ago, during one of his many trips down. PANTS are from Funky Monkey, a vintage and thrift shop in New Orleans. BAG was a thrift find in Maryland. SHOES are a friend’s.

 

EARRINGS are a part of the Noirlinians collection which will relaunch on the new site soon. RING belongs to Mwende, I think I may have stolen it afterwards >:-) HEAD was shaven because I was bored.

DENISIO:  I fell asleep on the car ride back to my partner’s parents house from the beach. It was January and we were on the Eastern shore of Maryland bringing in the New Year with Mike’s parents and sisters and their families. The car was warm, my seat reclined. If my eyes were open, I would have seen us whizzing past small town after small town. It is a ride I have taken often. I’d rather miss the random confederate flags and Trump bumper stickers so I caught up on my z’s instead. But then I felt Mike’s soft warm hand on my shoulder, slightly coaxing me to wake up. “Hey, you want to go to Harriet Tubman’s birthplace?”

I love when you get to the point in a relationship of truly knowing one another. When you can anticipate the other’s needs. Mike knows I have a thing for historical sites. If there is a commemorative plaque nearby, you can guarantee I will read it. If there is a museum in your town dedicated to Black history I am in that bitch. I own several Sarah Vowel audiobooks. So when he asked me if I wanted to detour to see the birthplace of a woman who not only freed hundred of enslaved people but was also a Union Spy, I grinned and said yes. 

We turned off the small two-lane highway we were on for an even smaller road. We passed a field of solar panels all pointed towards the blue cloudless sky. The landscape alternated between dense patches of forest with towering pines and neat rows of farm land, the crops no more than timid seedlings in the frosty winter ground. I asked Mike if he had ever been to this memorial. He said no, that he didn’t even know if was so close by. I didn’t know either. In my mind I imagined some sort of physical structure, like a house or a museum. Nothing big, because I know this country I live in and they rarely give us anything big. I told him I hoped that it would be open on a Sunday. We were both strangely giddy as though we were back in grade school on a field trip

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We drove past it the first time and had to circle back. We checked google maps and the Maryland National Parks sight twice on our phones just to be sure we were in the right place. Only, it wasn’t a place. It was a plaque, behind it acres of farmland, to one side a gate and a sign that read “Private Property.” A non-descript marker no bigger than a tall human and mostly hidden by the large mounds of dirt that had been dumped, presumably to fill the vast trench of water collecting in front of it. Mike said “This feels intentional.” I told him I felt the same thing. I felt myself getting angry. As limited, inaccurate, and nonexistent as Black History is in our education system most adults with at least a middle school education know of Harriet Tubman. She is one of the most recognizable historical black figures in the United States (within the context of our whitewashed history), alongside Martin Luther King. And the way in which we commemorate her birthplace is a bronze plaque with two sentences on it {photo}

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Despite the state of the landmark, the area had a tangible vibrational energy to it. I’m not a  religious/spiritual/whatever you want to call it person but I do believe in ancestral energy and sacred spaces. And even if those spaces are not being honored in the way they deserve to be, it doesnt negate its power. I stood with my eyes closed for a few minutes, imagining what the land must have looked like hundreds of years ago. Imagining Harriet’s mother and the conditions in which she must have had to give birth to her children. A mother willing to kill her own son rather than see him sold. The type of brutal love that would take. Imagined Harriet’s grandmother, a member of the Ashanti tribe rippped from her homeland to come to this cold strange place.

Weeks after we left, I still wondered about this landmark and the deplorable state it was in. How does this happen? I did what I do best. I googled. I was certain that there had to be some other memorial to Harriet Tubman or a museum that I just didn’t know about. Then I found on the Conservation Fund website that in 2013, President Obama, under the Antiquities Act sanctioned a commemorative series of properties to be known as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument. On every subsequent site I visited (The National Parks Conservation Association, The National Park Service, Wikipedia), the information was vague and focused more on the biography of Harriet Tubman rather than the specifics of what and where this large park was (the direction on NPS’ site leads you to the Black Water Refuge information center). The park was slated to open in 2015, but as I navigated these government sites I noticed two interesting quotables that I’d like to share here: {photos}

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Really? Because…ummmm….I’d actually like some statues and structures. Again I’m down with the metaphysical world, the unseen, the felt. And I live for a natural park. I grew up camping and fishing and hiking, nature is my shit. But this woman is a national treasure. Put up a fucking statue! After a whole lot of digging and leaps from site to site, I discovered that the actual park will not open until 2017, though they expect it to be completed by March of this year (source). A monument I was certain already existed is JUST now, as I type this, being completed.

Meanwhile, our country seems to have no problem building monuments for folks who are not only undeserving of commemoration but are horrible, violent, and outright evil people. I bore witness to this every day of my life for four years, when I made the decision to attend Washington and Lee University. Yes Lee as in Robert E. Lee, leader of the confederate army who fought to keep my people in chains. Yes, George Washington who is often quoted as having been conflicted with the institution of slavery yet couldn’t have been that conflicted as he owned enslaved people for 56 years of his life. The institution was not only named after owners of enslaved people, it was built by them. Between 1826 and 1852 Washington College (as it was called at the time) owned between 70 and 80 enslaved people and benefited from their labor (source).  Why I went is an entirely different story (a story I partly told in a previous post) but I will sum it up here as I was young, my mother couldn’t afford to pay for college, and they offered me a FULL academic scholarship for all four years. They wanted token black folks and I wanted free education. And then there was part of me that hoped that I could help bring about change.

Robert E. Lee is buried on Washington and Lee’s campus. His tomb resides in Lee Chapel, which is located in the center of the small campus. On my first day of orientation we were asked to meet in the chapel. I remember the first time I entered it, it felt cold and hard, imposing and gray. At the pulpit stood two very large confederate flags and I instantly felt the panic rise up in my throat. After that initial introduction / wake up call to where the fuck I really was I avoided that chapel like the plague. I can easily count on one hand the number of times I set foot in there and one was when we brought Angela Davis to campus, which was a battle within itself (One board of trustee member wrote an Op Ed in our campus newspaper which labeled her as a terrorist and threatened to never give another red cent to the university if she came). We had to demand that they temporarily remove the flags during her lecture. Several times.  In the time I was at W&L we, the black student body protested for many things. We protested for the removal of the confederate flags, to no avail. I personally wanted the removal of the recumbent Robert E. Lee statue myself realizing that it would never happen. We protested for no classes on Martin Luther King’s Birthday and some sort of commemoration on MLK day other than serving fried chicken and collard greens in the dining hall. We fought to bring Black Greek Letter Organizations on campus, something that would take all four years of me being there. There were tangible changes made when I left. There was more that stayed the same.

How strange it is now to see my old nemesis once again in my new home. Since my divorce I’ve often said that it feels like my life has picked back up from where I left off in college, before I met my ex. There is something strangely familiar about New Orleans and I always find myself feeling like I’m treading on old grounds and revisiting old ghosts. I remember the first time I drove around Lee circle. I was visiting the city for the first time and Mike, who was my friend and lover at the time, wanted to take me to one of his favorite cocktail bars called Bellocq. It was March and the night air felt warm and sticky. As I looked out and up and felt that same panic rise again. The statue loomed over everything and bright floodlights ghoulishly lit his face. He stood, chest puffed out and arms crossed in an imposing stance, atop a near comically tall white column. He stared down as if to say “I’m not done with you yet.”

There are approximately 20 institutions (colleges, high schools, middle and elementary schools), 10 streets and settlements, and 10 counties in the U.S. named in honor of Robert E. Lee. There are countless memorials for Andrew Jackson, a man who committed mass acts of genocide against Indigenous peoples, including several equestrian statues (one here in New Orleans), 14 institutions and at least 46 places including cities, counties and parks. In America, we pay homage to white “men” (I use that term in the loosest way possible) who have literally raped and pillaged. Who have murdered and enslaved in the name of “democracy.” They are literally the faces of our currency. And we as historically oppressed peoples are expected to shrug it off as history, to “move on.”

Only it’s not history. It’s not the past. It is right now. I watched a clip online the other day of Black and Brown folks protesting at the Trump Rally here in New Orleans. I witnessed friends, people whom I hug warmly in greeting, people whom I admire and care for being shoved out of the rally and shouted at. At one point I saw a friend and Soror being shoved to the ground along with other protesters amidst a cloud of white faces, pink with rage. It is a deeply helpless feeling to watch people you know being abused, physically and verbally for the world to watch. She later wrote online that her arms still bore bruises and scratches from where one of the security guards was pinching and grabbing her. At one point Trump said something along the lines of “I’m surprised at you Louisiana! I didn’t think it would take this long in Louisiana.” This is the world we live in. Where a presidential candidate incites and even hopes for racially motivated unprovoked violence. For the destruction of black and brown bodies. A world where we build effigies and monuments for known terrorists and mass murderers of black and brown people while simultaneously questioning the need to honor those same slain and oppressed peoples. Or if we do honor them, we relegate them to tiny plaques and unfinished parks. Or places like the Plessy vs. Ferguson historical marker where we shot for this post. A small patch of land in a gentrifying neighborhood. The site where Homer Plessy performed a defiant act as an eloquent fuck you to white supremacy, now nothing more than a place white folks bring their dogs to piss and shit on (something me and Mwende witnessed during our shoot). This is America. 

I want to end on a more positive note because I am a hopeless optimist. While a lot of what is happening in today’s climate is painful and traumatic I do see some positive changes. Bits of hope in very difficult times. The fact that four confederate monuments in New Orleans will officially be removed is a victory that cannot be ignored and it is directly because of the efforts of people like Mwende that it is happening. Two years ago, my alma mater Washington and Lee University removed those confederate flags that I and others vehemently protested for over a decade ago. They also issued a statement officially acknowledging their involvement in slavery and apologies to descendants of enslaved people. My hope is that people are beginning to recognize the power of symbols and sacred spaces. Why it is important as a people to honor our ancestors and the folks who came before us. To progress, we must learn from the past. 

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MWENDE KATWIWA

SKIRT: From the Bombchel Factory, our #NOIRLINIANSFeaturedFashions this week and next week! Check them out at ShopBombchel.com TOP : was formerly a club dress but since I don’t go to the club or wear body fitting dresses, I made it into a crop top. Fun fact, I am very much against editing people photos, but Denisio had to photoshop these pictures because I had spilled some tea on my shirt and it looked like I was leaking breakmilk which is totally fine if you’re breastfeeding but I’m not and I just looked a hot mess 😀 SHOES: My dad bought these for me because I have bad knees. I wear them like everyday and people hate them so much BUT I LOVE THEM and they’re so comfy and functional! My roomate fellout when I told her I wore them for a shoot lol

EARRINGS: Uhhh…shoot I really don’t know! But I know that my boss hooked me up with that necklace!

MWENDE: Recently, Nate Parker made headlines for making “The Birth of A Nation”, a film about Nat Turner’s rebellion/the Southampton Insurrection. Other than the content in the movie, Parker made headlines because he quit acting and raised $10 million dollars to write, direct, produce and star in the movie. Suddenly, my timelines on social media were flooded with people talking about Nat Turner’s rebellion and how enslaved people were not docile participants in slavery, though the narrative that we are taught in schools and other places would have you believe otherwise (like oh say, this book Scholastic recently had to recall because people refused the narrative of happily serving, smiling negroes it portrayed).

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bruh.

Around the same time this was going on, I went on a local tour of New Orleans hosted by Hidden History Tours, LLC focused on the Slave Revolt of 1811 which saw Charles Deslondes lead 500 enslaved Africans, many of whom had participated in the Haitian Revolution (cuz global Blackness gave a NAHHHHH to slavery), in the largest slave revolt in history. On the first stop of the tour, we got off the bus by a gas station and walked in the middle of a fairly busy intersection to crowd on a median which had a lone sign.

 

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Photo credit: Hidden History Tours, LLC

Take a second to read what this lonely, pathetic sign in the middle of a busy intersection has to say about the largest insurrection of enslaved people in American History.

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Photo Credit: NOLA.com Article “The Largest Slave Revolt in U.S. History is Commemorated”

It took me a second when we were on the tour to realize that this was the historical marker, and I’m not sure if it was because it was hard to hear over all of the traffic or because I didn’t want to accept that this was all that was offered to highlight Charles Deslondes and the hundreds of Black men and women who fought in the rebellion.

The day before the shoot, the photographer Aline (an AfroBrazilian woman in town studying for a couple of months) reached out to help narrow down some spots in the city to shoot at. One of the sites on the list which ended up being chosen was the site where Homer Plessy intentionally purchased a train ticket and sat in the “whites only” section to challenge segregation. His ejection from the train and jailing led to the semi-well-known-case-depending-on-who-your-history-teacher-was of Plessy v Ferguson where Plessy was found guilty and the “separate but equal” clause was defined, maintaining segregation.

The day of the shoot we arrived and my Blackness stood on edge. It was during Mardi Gras when generally everything within parade route radius is a mess, but there was something about seeing piles of trash on this historic site after the Hidden History tour that would not leave me. Folks came by and cleaned up the parade mess, but when they were finished and we went to shoot, the first thing we noticed there was a bike chained to the sign marking Plessy’s action….even though there was an EMPTY bike rack not 30 feet away.

Maybe I went into a poetic spiral/rant (OK I know I did,) but I couldn’t help but think about how this sign, as a monument to the descendants of enslaved people who still lived with the legacy of slavery and segregation (see: all the monuments and statues to the Confederacy in New Orleans and beyond), was literally put back into chains by, judging from the crowd around us, a white person enjoying an overpriced snack at the cafe by N.O.C.C.A. even though there was an empty bike rack across the street WHICH MEANS this person biked up and saw the rack and the sign, decided that stealing the dignity from that small offering of recognition afforded to such a monumental case was OK presumably because reckless white folks have already stolen most of the neighborhood so this probably wasn’t so bad an offence to them…but I digress…

That was alot of lead up to get to the meat of this post, but I have a lot to say on this subject. I’ve written on it before because there is so much that needs to be said but often it’s a conversation people don’t want to have or claim it’s not worth having. I’m going to use this week’s post to talk about monuments, markers, cultural education, historical memory and specifically, the maintenance and preservation of those that honor the legacy of white supremacy in the US across the world and the systematic destruction or erasure of monuments/histories that honor the overcoming of these oppressive forces by Black people in Africa and across the diaspora. It’s gonna be one of the longer ones, but … I don’t really care cuz this needs to be said and if you follow this blog, then you know it’s rooted in the preservation of Black and African culture and heritage which is under constant threat globally.

I went to American public schools most of my life and I don’t remember ever learning about Nat Turner or really any resistance from enslaved folks except for maybe a brief mention of what happened aboard the Amistad or vague stories about Harriet and the Underground Railroad. The older I get the more I realize how fortunate I was then to grow up in a home where both my parents studied and honored African history and the history of those in the diaspora. Education on global Blackness sort of just came with being in the household and seeped into my being like osmosis, hence this was me in middle school as I was recently reminded by a former classmate:

 

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middle school me did not come to play with you heauxs!

Because of all the noise made about “The Birth of A Nation”, it started to feel like it was a familiar story, one we should all know about, especially since it was Black History Month (Side tangent: I get mad when folks, especially Black folks talk about why do we need a Black History Month? Well we have it and clearly it’s not enough since we only seem learn surface level things about the Civil Rights Big 5 – Malcolm, Martin, Rosa, George Washington Carver and Booker T Washington. Seriously, we barely learn Black history during Black History Month, I don’t trust this place to teach it generally), but these are not the narratives of Blackness we are fed growing up in the states. Much if not all of what I learned about myself , my skin and my culture outside of embarrassment and shame was learned outside of school walls.

American History would have you believe that Black people in this country loved slavery (Texas history would have you forget that it was even slavery and call it ‘immigration’ and referred to those who were brought over as ‘workers’) and were it not for the benevolence of white folks who decided one day that slavery was wrong / immoral / unjust , we happy Negroes would have stayed happily in chains (even though “acceptance” of slavery was often for survival’s sake, numerous enslaved people resisted and lost their lives, or took their own lives instead of remaining in bondage). American history leaves out key elements of Black history when it does choose to recognize it, and this is not by mistake. Keeping a people from their heritage and history, especially when it is filled with the resistance of the same structures of white supremacy that are maintained today is a part of preserving and further entrenching oppression as the “way things are/have always been”. When I work with Black youth, I realize they seldom are told of stories of historical community resistance in their schools despite living in a place like New Orleans which is only alive today as we know it because of the history of Black resistance and cultural preservation.

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Photo credit: My article for AntiGravity Magazine on a Take Em Down NOLA Action

Recently in the Southern part of the states, there have been organized movements dedicated to the destruction or removal of white supremacist symbols and statues as a result of the Confederate flag being on display at the South Carolina capital after the race based killing of 8 people in Charleston, SC. Organizers in New Orleans brought this conversation was brought to the national spotlight in the 1990s when they organized to have local schools renamed from bearing the names of slave owners. This legacy was built off of recently by the local chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) when we held our first action in November 2015 in solidarity with communities in Ferguson honoring Mike Brown. The site of the protest was Lee Circle which we took over and reclaimed Brown Circle noting that Black folks in the states literally live in the shadows of their oppressors and the psychological violence this enacts on communities. This action and a series of other actions led to the creation of a local coalition known as Take Em Down NOLA dedicated to organizing for the removal of these statues, symbols streets names etc. This campaign has led me to think often about something Mr. Leon Waters, a local historian with Hidden History Tours said to me once,

when the US went to “liberate” Iraq, some of the first things they did were to topple his statues as a symbolic end to his rule. You never leave monuments to the losers, let alone build new ones, yet the Confederate monuments were built AFTER they lost the war which should tell you whether they and their ideology really lost or not”

Recently in South Africa, the #RhodesMustFall campaign was launched. The story goes student organizers led a campaign to remove symbols of Cecil B Rhodes which included hurling feces at the statue because they literally didn’t give a shit about white supremacy (…see what I did there? eh? eh? OK moving on):

Student leader Ramabina Mahapa criticised the university as “Eurocentric” on Monday during a campus meeting chaired by Crain Soudien, a deputy vice-chancellor of the university. “We, as black students, as African students, need to be able to identify with the institution,” Mahapa said. “Whose heritage are we preserving?”

Side Note: Historian Richard McFarlane once described Cecil Rhodes as “integral a participant in southern African and British imperial  history as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln are in their respective eras in United States history.” It is no coincidence or hyperbole that he puts these “great” American men in the same breath as this “great” British colonist, and we really gotta stop talking about White Supremacy like it was only perpetuated in the South by the Confederacy, but again, I digress…

This question of heritage is an important one, especially when you hear folks who support the preservation of Confederate monuments argue that its preserving/honoring their “heritage”. Everytime I hear that, I am reminded of something I heard in the midst of all the organizing of Take Em Down NOLA, “White people’s nostalgia should not trump Black people’s trauma.” When I think about that saying though, I am reminded of how little white people in America know about or are willing to recognize Black people’s historical trauma, and how much education and social glorification of our oppressors has a role to play in that. I am reminded of something a teacher friend of my Kaitlyn recently wrote about the importance of educating Black children about the depths of their history:

“we do not protect ourselves or our children by softening the truth.  we do not prepare them to enter or fight against this world either.  neither the truth of terror and horror nor the truth of power and resistance are dull.   we won’t actualize any of the work we talk about until we can look at ourselves, each other, and our children,  and call a blade a blade. the truths of history are, after all, the greatest and freest and most ever-lasting weapons we could ever access.”

Last time I was in Kenya, I remember taking a walk downtown and intentionally looking at the street names and monuments on display. I remember noting seeing many things honoring former presidents and political figures, especially the nation’s first president Jomo Kenyatta, but I also remembered being surprised by the statue of Dedan Kimathi since when Kenyan independence is spoken of, his name is rarely mentioned despite being an instrumental leader in the Mau Mau rebellion that led to the nation’s independence. Despite this statue, the rest of what I saw on my walk, at times, beyond the statues in the way white folks/Westerners were treated over native Kenyans, reminded me of how entrenched (neo) colonialiam is in the fabric of African nations today.

Soon after my walk, an article came out written by well known Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o called “Power, Politics and Public Monuments in Nairobi Kenya”. In it, he talks about how monuments in colonial era Nairobi were used “as a cultural tool of imperialism” and how after colonization, the rising Kenyan political elite, moving very much in the same way as their former colonizers, reflecting “political domination by a political elite”. And back to what Mr. Leon told me about removing statues being as symbolic as putting them up, Kenya still retains colonial era statues that were intentionally erected to

“visually link Nairobi with the British Empire and to assert colonial and imperial power…Celebration of the monarchy was part of the process through which Britain linked its empire as a social entity, through the reproduction in its periphery of its own perceived domestic social hierarchy. From a postcolonial perspective, the inscription of these monuments into the landscape can be seen as a cultural tool in the project of imperialism..but they were also used to assert Kenya’s place in the empire, to prove to the imperial power the country’s position as a loyal member of the British Empire”

All of these stories, from Nate Parker, to the dingy little signs used to mark Black people’s resistance, to #RhodesMustFall to the status of symbolism in Kenya remind me of the importance of cultural preservation happening and being led by the communities whose culture is at stake. From our historical narratives to our customs and traditions, “Africa” and “African” things are becoming less and less “African” every day because Africans themselves are not the ones telling their stories, selling their cultural markers (clothing, jewelry etc) yet they are being offered and accepted by the rest of the world as representative of the continent and the vast diversity of the people (also side note: I’m really over the whole view of African countries as stuck in history and defining “African” things in relation to a no longer existent view of a romanticized traditional Africa. The continent is just as affected by globalization as the rest of the world and has struggled from colonialism to neo-colonialism to globalization to hold onto itself). Speaking of which…

This week I am wearing a skirt made in Liberia by Denisio’s friend who runs an initiative called the Bombchel Factory whose mission/history I want to highlight:

The Bombchel Factory was started by Archel Bernard, a Liberian-American whose parents fled civil unrest in the West African country. The Bombchel Factory is committed to training some of the most disadvantaged people and changing their lives. Our team of expert tailors and excited trainees can produce much more than we can sell locally, so we have set our sights on the rest of the world. This is not an NGO that is here today and gone tomorrow. We know Liberians don’t want handouts.  Our trainees will develop a trade and a way to support themselves and their families, and we will create gorgeous, contemporary African fashions for a global market. 

I encourage folks who want to be supportive of and preserve Black and African culture and heritage to take the time to do so by supporting indigenous folks who are working to hold on their culture and heritage in the face of global erasure.

I do so because I am constantly reminded of stories like Italian pen company selling fountain pens with the distinct red cloth of Masaai culture for $600, with no proceeds going back to the Masaai themselves (and how its curious that that Red cloth is considered Masaai in the first place…)

I do so because I love my people and my history, and even I as a native Kenyan struggle with holding it without the gloves of white Supremacy.

I do so because if I don’t, if we don’t, they will distort or erase us from our own stories and tell them back to our children as fact. To edit Zora Neale Hurston’s quote,

“If you are silent about your [history], they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

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Noirlinians is a love story by two wandering Daughters of the African diaspora 

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The Author

Noirlinians is an AfroFashion blog exploring the complex relationship between culture, clothing & identity in the diaspora. Featuring Liberian artist and designer Denisio Truitt of DOPEciety and poet and organizer Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa, the idea for the blog emerged after a fast friendship developed between the two based on their African heritage and artistic interests.

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