Saturday, June 10, 2017

Deborah Willis's Black, Notes #2

More of our writings on Deborah Willis's Black: A Celebration of Culture.

[Related: Deborah Willis's Black: A Celebration of Culture, Notes #1]

Lil’ Kim at the ‘White Party’, NJ, 2001 (“The Arts”, pg. 149)
Kim Jones is standing in front of a long, white Victorian couch, at an all white party, wearing a long white skirt. The flash mingles with her iridescent dark skin, brilliant teeth, and shakes the hand of the gold on her wrists and platinum blondness of her wig. The Queen Bee’s got one hand supporting her lower back, the other holding an invisible wand. Makes me wanna ask: Geneva Diva, [can you tell me how] you throws it down
Samantha L. Adams
Pg. 226
A little girl sits in what seems to be a church pew, in her Sundays best; an all-white dress, white hat, and white shows with the beautiful touch of the all to recognizable ruffle fringe socks. She looks downward as if something shiny and new has caught her eye. Do you question you position, do you feel the pressures of conformity, do you love your people/identity, your skin? Do you find salvation in divinity/ the spiritual entity they tell you has paid for you sins?
Emily Hemmitt
pg. 64
Darryl Sivad’s “Grandma Mamie’s Living Room” holds the decorative items of a living room clearly intertwined within years of history and meaning, yet is also very minimalist in appearance. On the wall hangs a single photograph in a frame, making it seem as if the white of the wall is a blank canvas, and the photograph a figure of an angel of a black family hanging high in the sky. This legacy brings the question and complexity of kinship, and the significance of black spaces in understanding black community and intergenerational lineages.
Lindsey Norward
Carrie Mae Weem’s Kitchen Table Series
In Carrie Mae Weem’s image Kitchen Table Series, a Nubian Queen sits at the table with a detangling savior running through her kinky crown with a chest-full of confidence glistening in the light. Her facial expressions along with her wine and Camel Menthol cigarette supports her inner feelings of being in an aroma of a peaceful Saturday night. Tell me, how long did you rob yourself of such a deserved and beautiful peace?
Tarzra Jones
Black Ballerinas (p.13)
Most of the young girls have slicked back ballerina buns, but there is one girl wearing a black bandana, who is having mascara applied by another girl. The image of the mascara being applied made me think of beauty standards applied to all girls, and how beauty standards specifically affect young black girls. What standards of femininity are black girls held to, and how can we teach them to defy these expectations?
Jena Roberston
Stephen Marc, Ghana, 1988, pg 173
A woman, her serious face dark and lovely, sweeps past the open doors of the shop with the skirts of her dress gathered in both hands. Behind her, on the doors, are advertisements for Revlon where a smiling black woman’s face sits above the slogan, “The difference between looking good and looking great.” The first thing I wonder is: has Revlon ever sold a skin bleaching cream?
Chelsea Irvin

AALCI 2017


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