Posts in Black Herstory
Black Herstory: Refocusing the Unrepresented

In light of the recent debuts at the National Portrait Gallery of commissioned pieces of President Obama and First Lady Michelle ( done by the amazing Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald), let’s take a look back at black people’s traditional involvement with portraits.

This post highlights a series of portraits from the early 18th and 19th Centuries. During these times, families of wealth, who were more often than not slave owners, would have their portraits done to make explicit their prestige and place in society.

In these paintings, these men would show off specific clothes with exquisite fabrics, wear their hair in ways to solidify their stature. Another way to display their wealth was to show the presence of a slave. Sometimes slaves’ faces would be strategically staring up at the colonizers’ in a submissive way, but maybe just their hand, or blurred face would be visible in the background.

A possession. A piece of property. An object.

This piece is to bring light to the unrepresented in these portraits.

To reclaim this piece of our history, honor many of our ancestors, and shift the focus of each portrait.

~ Stoney SPICE ~

 

Viewing Tip - To see full image & gain full respect for this piece, click on each photo <3

 

Lady Elizabeth Keppel - Joshua Reynolds 1761

 

Lady Grace Carteret Countess of Dysart with a Child - John Giles Eccardt 1738

 

Lady Elizabeth Murray (w/ Dido Elizabeth Murray,)  - Johann Zoffany 1779

 

Charles Stanhope 3rd Earl of Harrington - Sir Joshua Reynolds 1782

 

Elihu Yale; William Cavendish, the 2nd Duke of Devonshire; and an Enslaved Servant - Unknown Artist 1709

 

A Lady Holding a Mask -  John Raphael Smith 1795 & 1800

 

A Young Girl - Bartholomew Dandridge  1725

For more information on these pieces and more like these, click here.

Black Herstory Month: Betty Davis

Black Herstory Month: Betty Davis

~In the spirit of Black History Month, we want to share the stories of some of the inspirational women hustlers who came before us. We hope that theses posts spur the desire to further research these pioneers and others you may have always been curious about~

Betty (Mabry) Davis : Years active 1960s-1970

 

Before ‘Bitches Brew’ there was Betty Davis, a funk prototype who brought rock and blues to mercurial, sublimely sensual heights. She stood on equal ground with men, influencing Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, The Commodores, and former husband, Miles Davis. Not motivated by respect from peers, she remained original, irresistibly free, and a liaison for lost souls, bringing a lot of artists together. The sun climbed higher each day during the ‘60s — late ‘70s because Betty Davis infused her world with passionate love and mouth-watering fierceness.

An unbreakable vortex of music emerged because she transformed her energy of electrifying consciousness into a physical matter of sound. At the age of 12 she wrote a song for the Chambers Brothers, “Uptown to Harlem.” When she turned 17 she left her hometown in Pittsburg to pursue modeling in New York. She was one of the first black women to land a gig in Europe, posing for the cover of EbonySeventeen, and Glamour but deemed it mindless and moved on to writing and producing all her own songs. Much past-due reverence is owed in her honor for excelling in every gifted mechanism within: beauty, grit and soul. Every time she took the stage she was embossed with her natural down-to-earth glow and far out fashion statements. She once said wearing an Icelandic sheep coat, seductive hosiery and space-age go-go boots, “This stuff does’t need any concentration and that’s what I really call funky.” A multi-talented badass reflected not only in her style but clearly in her lyrics as well.

Each album she released exudes hedonistic vibes (They Say I’m Different,Nasty GalIs it Love or Desire?), but her outside world corrupted that vibe, treating her music as taboo. Many radio stations avoided any air-play because they judged it to be too raunchy. Even one track from the debut album, “If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up,” was considered to be so suggestive that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) found the funk goddess to be a disgrace to her race and various religious groups protested her record, stating they were “downright dangerous.” Although critics disapproved and many record labels turned her away, Betty Davis never toned down for anyone. She is just a misunderstood fox whom trotted with her head held high and made us see the world with a little less innocence, offering us a way into the mysteries of great sex and romance without actually having it.

It was such a shame that society rejected her outspokenness. At least she refrained from commercializing her image and closed the final curtain on her musical career in 1976. Little do most know that her impact extends to Erykah Badu, Lil Kim, and Janelle Monae. Lenny Kravitz, Method Man, and Ice Cube, among others, have sampled her work. Betty was not just a psychedelic rock musician and sex symbol but a visible manifestation of black girl magic. A hieroglyphic deity that one cannot make sense of. The type of music she created opened up your pores, like slowly easing your way into a steamy hot tub, with dissolved acid tabs, pruning your fingertips trying to get a grip of life.

I have mad respect for Betty Davis not because she was careless, she just didn’t give a fuck so to speak or let any ridicule affect any cell in her glorious body. Walking away from the music business was such a raw and true statement of her being. Betty Davis loved herself enough that she left what wasn’t healthy — anything that kept her small. Her hiatus for over 30 years now left many in shock. Some would call it disloyal but I see it as self-loving. There is barely any history out there, she remains elusive, protecting her soul from energy vampires. Which makes her all the more intriguing. Rumors are, a new movie brought by Native Voice Film will release a documentary in early 2017. The movie reveals for the first time the extraordinary unknown story.

~J-NASTY

Black Herstory Month: Madam CJ Walker

~In the spirit of Black History Month, we want to share the stories of some of the inspirational women hustlers who came before us. We hope that theses posts spur the desire to further research these pioneers and others you may have always been curious about~

Madam CJ Walker (1867–1919)

Madam CJ Walker is best remembered as something like the messiah of black hair care. From the fortune amassed from her hair care company she became one of the wealthiest, most successful black and female entrepreneurs of the post-emancipation period.

The first to be born free in her family, she was born Sarah Breedlove on a cotton plantation in Louisiana in 1867. Orphaned young and faced with a subsequent abusive home life, Breedlove married the first of her three husbands and moved to St. Louis where she began her ambitious pursuits.

After nearly going bald due to a longstanding scalp condition, she decided to take matters into her own hands and experiment with different potions. Ultimately, the remedy that would cure her allegedly came to her in a dream, though the concoction itself had been used for centuries prior. Combining her entrepreneurial and technical skills, Madam CJ Walker was able to penetrate the growing black middle class market and move into a league of her own.

More impressive though than the fact that she became the first black woman to become a millionaire or that her business was designed for women by women, was her work as a philanthropist. Speaking on her wealth she said, “My objective in life is not simply to make money for myself or to spend it on myself in dressing or running around in an automobile, but to help others.” With her wealth she sponsored orphanages and retirement homes for former slaves. She also supported many educational institutions including The Tuskegee Institute, where she personally supported six students.

Thank you, Madam CJ Walker for your contributions to black culture and for being an example of black excellence for over a century.

~Kenya Kush~