What does this #BlackLivesMatter movement mean to you? How does this new awakening of Black Pride and rise of consciousness resonate with you? What does it mean to be labeled "BLACK"?
Up until this awakening and Black Lives Matter movement, I had no "desire" or urge to express that I was black. . .I mean, I wore it everyday. The first time I truly saw systematic racial inequality was watching cartoons on TV. I had to ask my Mom why the commercials for dolls always showed the white girl playing with her white doll and at the end of the commercial placed a small photo in the corner of the lonely black doll ("also offered") with no one to play with her. If there was a brown girl playing in the ad, it was obvious she was playing with her white friend and HER doll. My innocent mind did not understand why my doll was an afterthought or why she always had to be dressed in that dreaded neon orange when the blonde doll got to be pretty in pink.
Being raised in a black family did not mean much past Baptist Church, Sunday dinner, colorful family gatherings and an early introduction into the wonderful world of weave for me. I mean I had no Motown, 5 Heartbeats, Roots or anything, ok lol! I went to a predominantly white elementary school where I was groomed to blend in. Fast forward to middle school where I had the biggest culture shock ever going from a predominantly white school to a school of almost all black kids who know the cry baby and the lyrics to Cash Money Records and I'm still loving N'SYNC and . . . yea . . . that was me lol!
I never felt black. . .I wasn't black enough by their standards. Now I can't deny. . .I wanted to fit it. Being black doesn't just look lit we are lbvs! I wanted to understand why me being me got me teased. I was called white for my interest, a teachers pet for enunciating and getting good grades. I was stuck, so I adapted as best I could.
As I got older adapting takes new form in college and in the work place. Don't even get me started on how Corporate America will train you on what to do with your "blackness". Now, at 26, my desire to know what my blackness means to me doesn't just come from wanting to know the 1st black person to do this and that. I want to know my ancestors, I want to know where I am from just like "everyone else". I want to feel confident that I can tell my kids about their heritage, culture and what that means to them. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a little emotional listening to the enthusiasm of people who can definitively talk about where they are from and their culture to a T.
I say all that to say that my experience as a black woman have made me wonder who to identify with. Do I "act" black? Do I even know what that is or even care if it's not organic behavior for me?! Am I black by default because of my skin or is this simply what I identify with and the label others choose to give me? I soon found after middle/high school, it didn't matter. I couldn't identify with being black if I didn't "act" black with the black kids and was always black by default with the white kids becasue of my skin and hair. I didn't know what that meant and how to stand proud being black no matter who my peers were.
I may never be able to tell you where my ancestors got on that ship or who they were before being forced into slavery. What I do know is what MY PEOPLE did and what they went through to build this country I call home. I know the plight MY PEOPLE had to go through to get us the freedoms I unconsciously enjoy. Scary to say that was only 51 years ago the fight for those freedoms happened at the expense of black leaders lives. I know I am not too far removed from my family that had to live in fear, for their skin was too dark for the comfort of their peers. For these reasons alone and MORE, I AM BLACK AND IM PROUD.
This Fade to Black collection I am creating is to express all the confusion and frustration with my blackness that I've felt over the years. I feel I have manifested that into great pride and confidence in who I am as a BLACK WOMAN . We all want to share our story and this jacket is a representation of how fashion can help express your experience and pride to the world. #BLACKLIVESMATTER
I started with a series of patches I have been collecting just for this project. I wasn't sure what I would do with them exactly but I fell in love with each for a different reason.
I found the perfect vintage jacket and brainstormed this concept with my Mom. I first was going to paint PRIDE in grey also and fade to black but I decided that the Pride I have in being black is such enthusiasm that it had to incorporate some color. Not to mention Black absorbs all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflects none of them to the eyes. That's deep. Fade to Black. . .
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