Posts Tagged ‘slavery’

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Michael Jordan doesn’t care about Black People. Like Kanye West courageously shouted on national television, about how he felt then president George W. Bush felt about Black people during the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the screw up that followed.  I personally feel the same way about Mr. Jordan and other athletes but, this is about MJ. He is in a position, a well paid position; that allows an exploitative condition to be created for some of our less informed Brothers and Sisters to fall into. One of the highest paid and greatest athletes of ALL time, shackled by his surname to a product, an expensive brand that creates death and drama in poor Black communities.

Death. Violence. Capitalism.

How is MJ to be blamed? He knows exactly what’s going on outside of the sneaker stores – mothers and fathers fighting, kids dying, police being called in to control the ravenous crowds that come out in droves to purchase these shoes. The majority of these people can barely pay their rents, live check to check, neglect their children but, still find a way to spend over $300 on his sneakers. That’s not his fault but, his marketers control the euphoria that draws people to it.  On the flip-side, is it fair to completely blame him?

For 30 Years, we have chosen to be enslaved to a product. Materialism has been likened to psychosis; this is a sickness of consumption…

I’ve always wondered, what is more important to African-Americans? Do we really NOT care about the future, about our lives, the lives of our children and the lives of others? Are we that broken, that we refuse to try to do the slightest things to fix the problems that plague us and our communities.  I think of the hair industry – Black women spend billions (b) of dollars a year on someone else’s hair.  I can only imagine, if MJ or MJB put their name on a wig it would sell like hot combs!  I’m also reminded of a quote, “Rich people stay rich by living like they are poor and poor people stay poor by living like they’re rich.” True right?

Our priorities are all jacked up and it adds to our Slave Narrative of 2014 and possibly beyond.

In light of the glorification of Slavery in dramatic and cinematic exhibition, I wanted to start a conversation about our current condition. Let’s talk about our current Slave status.  Not in a speculative sense; let’s literally discuss where we are when it comes to accepting the fact that we are mainstream Slaves.  Slaves to materialism and consumerism. We get caught up in the razzle-dazzle of “buying things” and line dance our way into the money-grubbing hands of capitalists that make you think you need to spend money that you don’t have on products you don’t need.

The amount of money we spend during holidays is sickening. Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day to name a few; on these days, the African-American dollar is looooong….However, we are the bottom of the list again, when it comes to charitable contributions and circulating money in our communities.

I feel this way about all Americans but, African Americans must do better. We have fewer resources but, expend up to 3 times as much as our European counterparts.

Now,  I’m not trying to be right or wrong; that will be decided by you, the readers but, this obsession over Jordans is crazy and it has to stop! Period. Point. Blank!

Michael Jordan and other “High Society”, Blacks do not care about the plights of poor Black people. They are somehow immune from issues that affect the “little people” due to their economic statuses.  These are people that are trying coming up from the bottomless pits, trying to get out of the same dark places that many of them came from.

We have to send them a message that they will not continue to profit from our suffering.

Stop feeding the machine. Stop buying Jordans!

 

CT

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A few years ago…

I was in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for a business trip.  As we spent some free time around the town, I took it upon myself to walk into a Confederate Novelty store.  The store was laden with Confederate Flags and other memorabilia of the Deep South.  As I perused around, confident and fearless, it became clear as I delved deeper into the dark corners of the store, that the painted faces of the tiny soldiers, scowling in caricatured war grimaces, were staring at me as if I was Gulliver, traveling into a hate-filled forbidden land…Okay, so I let my imagination get to me sometimes…Anyway, I felt uneasy and wanted to go.

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When I entered the store, I passed by a Black Woman; an older woman in her sixties or younger but, she was clearly my elder.  I passed her by as if she was just another curious person of color that challenged the system and ran head first into the store like a “Boss”, the same way that I did.  When I came from the rear of the store with my “Gettysburg” refrigerator magnets, I realized that the woman I had passed, was behind the register.  Now, this caught me by huge surprise as I certainly didn’t think a Black Woman would be the caretaker of a Confederacy Store but, lo and behold she was.

At first, I was a bit uneasy to ask why she worked there, but I built up the nerve to ask, “Do you feel comfortable around all these Confederate flags, knowing the history of them?” I asked.  She said, “Yes! This is my store and it’s my history too.  I was born and raised here; my Mother and Father were raised and died here.  This is just as much a part of my history as it is theirs.  I’m very comfortable with it.”

Being from the North, where the Racism is disguised as Liberalism and Gentrification jogs by your house at six every morning, I was surprised at the tolerance it must take to deal with the energy behind the symbolism and how it wasn’t enough to deter her from accepting her place as a part of it.

I realize that it’s a proud symbol of southern heritage;  while some see it as a painful reminder of slavery and segregation.  The “Southern Cross” is just an emblem, a token of ideas, materialized in the same Red, White & Blue that graces Old Glory.  People are so upset because the Ku Klux Klan and White Hate groups use the flag as their symbol of power and separatism, while others see it as a bold reminder of who they are and where they come from.

united-states-flagI was very grateful and honored to meet someone who was proud of who she was and proud of where she lived.  We can’t be honest with ourselves and say that the United States of America has been kind to African Americans and we can’t say that it would have been better under the Confederate States either.  What we can say is that we are the products of history: North vs. South, Freedom vs. Slavery and Black vs. White; we are here because we fought and died on both sides to have the choice to raise whatever flag we want to.

Kanye West, who claims Chicago as his home, was born in Atlanta GA in 1977 so, I’m sure that he’s seen his share of Confederate Flags. It was not until 2001, that the State Flag of Georgia, which contained the Southern Cross, was changed to suit businesses, white liberals and the NAACP.  I haven’t done much research or really paid any attention to Kanye and his reasons for embracing the Confederate Flag, but I understand and I do think it’s his right to wear it, rock it, sport it or flaunt it anyway that he sees fit.  It’s a part of his heritage; it’s a part of all of our heritage in this country whether we like it or not.  So, no matter where you stand, if it’s with the Union or the Confederacy and no matter what flag you’re waving, both of them are drenched in our blood.

Take your pick!

– CT

The Liberation of Aunt Jemima
Inspired by art that no artist would claim

Liberation Of Aunt Jemima

I came across this image today and was intrigued by the title. “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima” and decided to blog about it.  It’s been a while kiddies, I hope that you haven’t forgotten about your friendly neighborhood pot stirrer!  In my moment of mental brevity, I studied this image and came to a startling assumption.  Aunt Jemima, whoever she was caricatured after, was probably never paid royalties!  Based on the history of Black Americans in this country especially, during the Slave era, blacks were paid menially or not at all.

Allegedly, this flour laden treat was mixed together first in 1889, 25 years or so after the civil war and the “on paper” end of Slavery, I’m sure there were poorly carried out negotiations for that oh so secret recipe.  Credit for its embezzled goodness is given to Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood of the Pearl Milling Company and if we all know Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, we know that it was stolen and claimed to be their own.

If that’s not the case, Aunt Jemima, the name, the product and the imagery has been a clever marketing icon that’s lasted for over a century!

We may ask why would the Pearl Milling Company do that, use a Black woman to market their product?  This country was still full of hatred and disdain for these newly freed Africans.  Mockery and cruelty was publicly accepted and perpetuated through stage shows and later radio and television; could the interests of turning the “suffering” of Blacks into tasteless entertainment be conceived as a fool-proof marketing tool?  Could it be that way back when, they knew that marketing Black women was going to be acceptable no matter how negative it was?  African women were a big draw at slave auctions, attracting 1000’s from all over to pay and vie for “suitable wenches” that would be good around the house and in the masters bedroom.  So for this company to use the “mammy archetype” in pre-civil rights America would seem like a recipe for disaster and yet it happened and it worked!

Nancy Green

Nancy Green was hired in 1890 as the first Aunt Jemima representative to be on the boxes and on the road at cooking shows.  A former slave, Nancy Green probably didn’t have the knowledge or even an idea of what she needed to get compensation for her image and her time.  In 1914, the new owners of the pirated recipe, R.T. Davis Milling Company, renamed the company “Aunt Jemima Mills”, which was credited to the success of the company and its minstrel spokeswoman.  Green was offered a lifetime contract to adopt the Aunt Jemima moniker and promote the pancake mix.

Although her money was short, she did have some financial freedom, using her income to engage in activism and anti-poverty campaigns.  Unfortunately, at the age of 89 years, she was killed after being struck by a car in Chicago.  As the first African model hired to promote a national American product and corporate trademark, Nancy Green will forever be remembered and endeared as Aunt Jemima or “Slave in a Box”.

Anna Robinson

Next up to the auction block is Anna Robinson, our second Auntie J.  From this picture it looks like she may have had too many flap jacks…Whoa! Guess I was being a bit insensitive, but she clearly wasn’t a picture of health.  As I read up on Ms. Robinson, she was 350 pounds and darker than Nancy Green, which worked out for the marketers and promoters to help them stick with their pancake making mammy.  Even today, corporate America hints a silent prerequisite for thick robust Black women to promote products that may not be good for us.  Whether it’s fried chicken, inhaling harmful cleaning products or distasteful music videos, these women are used as tools, to fool the fools, into suckling the brand that is being endorsed.

Speaking of suckling, is “mammy” a play on mammary, as in breasts, Black breasts that white children suckled on while the “mammies” watched over the slave masters chil’ren?  I wonder if that is where the word originated from.

Edith Wilson

Here is Edith Wilson, one of the more socially acceptable Aunt Jemima’s.  She doesn’t have the appearance of the stereotypical “mammy”.  She is of lighter complexion, suitably attractive; she has that classic 20-30’s look.  Her career lasted 18 years as the face and voice of Aunt Jemima – first on radio then in advertisements and appearances at pancake breakfasts’.  So, back to liberation!  Who was she, who was the real “mammy” that gave those white boys the pancake recipe that has endured for 123 years?  Was she compensated, if so how?  After all of these years has she received her due?  I think she has.  Yes, the name, Aunt Jemima is one of the most degrading names from the Slave and Minstrel Era that has endured up to this day, Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians, consume this product without thought and without recognizing the history behind the offensive, delicious goodness in every flapjack we eat.

It’s funny how Blacks,  at our own expense, motivate profitable ideas to others through our self-slander and misery.

The Old Aunt Jemima was a popular song composed by an African comedian, songwriter and minstrel show performer, a Black man named Billy Kersands (c. 1842–1915) The Old Aunt Jemima song was not only the inspiration for Aunt Jemima pancakes, it also inspired several characters in film, television and on radio.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Aunt_Jemima)

I for one take guilty pleasure in eating AJ pancakes, I do it to honor the sacrifice, to honor the history of the product and they taste so much better than Bisquick or Eggo so, yes I’m guilty.

“Idealism”

There is a subtext lurking beneath the Aunt Jemima advertisements. She embodied an early twentieth century idealized domesticity that was inspired by old southern hospitality. There were others that capitalized on this theme such as: Uncle Ben’s Rice and Cream of Wheat’s Rastus. The backdrop to the trademark image of Aunt Jemima is a romanticized view of antebellum plantation life. The myth surrounding Aunt Jemima’s secret recipe, family life, and plantation life as a happy slave all contribute to the post-civil war idealism of southern life and America’s developing consumer culture. Early advertisements used an Aunt Jemima paper doll family as an advertising gimmick to buy the product. Aunt Jemima is represented with her husband Rastus, whose name was later changed to Uncle Mose to avoid confusion with the Cream of Wheat character, and their four children: Abraham Lincoln, Dilsie, Zeb and Dinah. The doll family was dressed in tattered clothing and barefoot with the possibility to see them transform from rags to riches by buying another box with civilized clothing cut-outs.” – Credit goes to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aunt_Jemima)

Idealism aside and taste buds appeased, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima is an interesting piece of artwork and unfortunately I was unable find the artist to give credit or grievance to.  Finance & Freedom: would have been absolute liberation for a woman of that era,  but I’m sure the real Aunt Jemima never experienced either.

“In recent years, Aunt Jemima has been given a makeover: her skin is lighter and the handkerchief has been removed from her head. She now has the appearance of an attractive maid — not a Jim Crow era mammy.”  (http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/mammies/)

At least she’s not a mammy, or a slave in a box, she’s been upgraded to a maid…Hope that came with a pay increase?

Free Aunt Jemima!

Aunt Jemima Pancakes

CT