Friday, October 12, 2012

Vintage Black Glamour

From NPR:

I was scrolling through my Tumblr feed a year or so ago, when I saw a photo of Joyce Bryant. The caption said she was once dubbed the "black Marilyn Monroe" and was mentioned many times in Walter Winchell's gossip column.

But, I had never heard of or seen Bryant before. It's reactions like mine that led 42-year-old writer Nichelle Gainer to start a book project showcasing a collection of rarely seen historical photos of actors, educators, writers, students, musicians and more — all African-American.

"I write fiction for the most part, and when I am in libraries doing research ... I've come across a lot of different interesting articles and photos that you never see anywhere else," says Gainer, who has written for Woman's Day, GQ, InStyle, Essence and Honey magazines. "They're just locked in these ivory towers, whether it's an academic institution or a library."

Gainer, who is still working on her book, decided to share her photo finds and now curates the Vintage Black Glamour Tumblr blog, Facebook page and Pinterest account. Much of what she posts are photos you likely haven't seen before of stars you may know.
"There's tons of fabulous pictures of Josephine Baker, and you only see her in a banana skirt. I had someone write me and say, 'Oh, why don't you post the picture of Josephine and her famous skirt?' I said, 'Because you've seen that before, right? The reason I don't post it is because you have seen it before and I've seen it a million times, too.' I like to post things that people have not seen, that they don't know about and then they see it and go, 'Oh, my God, where did that come from?'
But often mixed among the luminaries are regular — but still glamorous — people. Those are the photos that fascinate me.

"On the anniversary of the March on Washington, I put up a picture of a woman named Karen House, who was holding up buttons for the March in 1963. She was a campaigner and an organizer, not a model or a beauty queen," Gainer says. "That's glamour to me, too, but I kind of stretch it to where it expands to women from all walks of life, though, yes, there does have to be a certain style to it, a certain beauty."

And, you get more than just a photo because when she can, Gainer includes information about the people in the photo, where it was taken and who took the photo — sort of a mini history lesson.
"I try not to just post a picture. Sometimes I will if you don't need as much context — I don't have to explain who Lena Horne is — but for the most part I try to give information as well," she says. "I'll say, 'This is Dorothy Dandridge rehearsing with Phil Moore, he was a great vocal coach and composer, and he trained Frank Sinatra and all these other people as well.' I want people to know you're not looking at some anonymous random person."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

To the Light of September

When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew

Source: Poetry (September 2003).
[thanks, David]

Friday, August 10, 2012

My prayer for the day...

Psalm 91  

  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
  He shall say to the LORD, "You are my refuge and my stronghold, *
my God in whom I put my trust."
  He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *
and from the deadly pestilence.
  He shall cover you with his pinions, and you shall find refuge under his wings; *
his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.
  You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, *
nor of the arrow that flies by day;
  Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, *
nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
  A thousand shall fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, *
but it shall not come near you.
  Your eyes have only to behold *
to see the reward of the wicked.
  Because you have made the LORD your refuge, *
and the Most High your habitation,
10   There shall no evil happen to you, *
neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
11   For he shall give his angels charge over you, *
to keep you in all your ways.
12   They shall bear you in their hands, *
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13   You shall tread upon the lion and the adder; *
you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.
14   Because he is bound to me in love, therefore will I deliver him; *
I will protect him, because he knows my Name.
15   He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; *
I am with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor.
16   With long life will I satisfy him, *
and show him my salvation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Naps, Kinks, Coils & Curls

Did you hear about Solange Knowles' Twitter rant? From Black Girl With Long Hair:

“Just taking a moment to rant against natural hair police” ~Solange Knowles
Solange had a lot on her mind last night as she took to Twitter to speak against naturals who have questioned the authenticity of her big chop and criticized her for rocking “undefined” looks all the time. Check it out;

I cut my hair ALL off 4 times in my life all for very different reasons….I only reiterate this because this is nothing new for me.
I’ve never painted myself as a team natural vice president. I don’t know the lingo and I don’t sleep with a satin cap…

However, I did noticed when I picked out my hair, I kept seeing feedback about needing a “twist out”. Connnnfesssioonnn: I HATE twist outs.

I dont want to talk about no damn hair… mo.

So what got Solange all fired up? A post on natural hair Tumblr blog Moderne Meid, which was itself summarizing a post from a DIFFERENT natural hair website that attracted some very uncomplimentary comments about Solange’s hair, including that it is not unique, and looks dry and unkempt (aka, not always in a twist out).
I think it's ridiculous that some people think they must tell complete strangers how they NEED to wear their own hair. What is that about? And sadder still that those people are fellow naturals. I also think Solange should have probably chose those 140 characters better since, well, as a spokesperson for Carol's Daughter, a haircare line, she will have to indeed, talk about hair. And on the regular.

But what caught and held my attention is the fact that yes, there are a number of people who feel that yes, natural chicas need to define every curl and coil. I know because in regular life, when I rock my hair in a true, 1970's style, Jackson 5, Angela Davis afro, I catch some stares, or receive tepid comments.

My afro, my hair halo.

When I throw some Eco Styler on my strands, and the coils freeze and shine, the comments not only thaw, but heat right up into complimentary praise.

 Still a fro, but now full of coils.

Like good for me, I've tamed the wild bush. Sigh.

I love my hair. Either way. And when it's straightened, too. But why can't kinky hair, no matter how "defined" or not, get love? Especially from other naturals?