african building


It’s been over a hundred years in the making, but the new Smithsonian museum celebrating Black history finally opened this weekend

Way back in 1929, President Hoover approved a proposal for a National Memorial Building for African American achievements in arts and sciences — but Congress did not. Congress didn’t officially pass an act to erect a federally owned museum until 2003. Ground wasn’t broken until nine years later, with a little help from President Obama.


Africans were building civilizations long before there was anything called Europe.
—  The truth 
Non-Muslim Magical Character nicknamed Djinn, “African-like“ Regions and Coding

Anonymous asked:

Hi! So, I have a character in my fantasy story whose name is Djinn. It was a nickname given to him by his mother, because he has fire magic and as I understand it djinn are meant to be beings of fire. The characters are from the semi-middle eastern sort of part of the world, but I’m trying to create my own cultures rather than just picking an existing one and renaming it. They think of djinn in sort of the same way we’d think of creatures from Greek mythology. The characters aren’t Muslim, but would using Djinn as a name for a magic character still be disrespectful?

Also, while I’m here, there’s also a character named Indigo from the sort-of-Africa region. Do you think I should rename him to something based on an African name? There’s a character from the same region named L'anora, which I made up, since the cultures are sort of made up as well.

I’m sorry if any of this is a problem, please ignore it if it is! I know Muslim/magic questions are banned but I wasn’t sure if this counted since the characters in question aren’t Muslim or Muslim-based.

Think of creating a goddess of beauty and calling her Aphrodite and making her from a sort-of Greek world but denying any ties to Greek mythology. It’s erasure. If you’re going to have a creature from pre-Islamic Arabia and Islamic mythology you can’t ignore their history. 

The djinn doesn’t have to be Muslim, but my issue here isn’t with the magic, its more with using Middle Eastern culture but not giving us proper representation. Again with the coding and the hinting but we just can’t get solid representation.

-Mod Yasmin

Regarding the African Character.

Reminder: Africa is a large, culturally-diverse continent. Your sort-of-African (Rather, African-coded) region should not be treated like a homogenized country.

So saying “African name” doesn’t give me much.

I don’t see a problem with the name Indigo for an African character.  Not all Africans do or would have a necessarily “African” name, due to things like colonialism, assimilation, personal tradition and oh, preference. (for example, my father was born and raised in Nigeria most his life; his name origins are Greek.)

Still, pick a specific region you’re basing these characters from, please.

I’m with Yasmin. While I do not mind coding, do not encourage being wishy-washy with representation. If you’re gonna code, actually code, and be abundantly clear this is say, a fantasy world Nigeria. Do not half do it and definitely don’t give us a “Somewhere is kinda-Africa” thing.

Ways to Code Regions (African or otherwise):

  • Skin Tones 
  • Facial features
  • Hair texture and styles
  • Culture and customs
  • Religions
  • Languages
  • Politics
  • Landscapes/vegetation
  • Landmarks
  • Animals

We’re not interested in stereotypical, flat depictions either:

If any of the latter three links are surprising to you, or any writer, as in the media’s stereotypes are all that you’ve ingested and internalized of Africa, you need to do a lot more research on Africa as a whole in addition to its countries before you even begin writing about our people.

-Mod Colette

The thing about creating a continent analogue is you have to create a continent analogue. Not a biome analogue, or a country analogue, or a region analogue, but a continent analogue. If you have an Africa analogue, it had better be big, diverse, and multicultural to reflect the entirety of the continent.

While this isn’t Africa, you can take a look at Avatar: The Last Airbender for an idea of what’s involved for simply creating a continent analogue. The cultures within there are primarily East and Southeast Asian, with a dash of central Asian and the North American Arctic. While it’s not necessarily the entirety of Asia, it feels big and diverse enough you can believe it’s Asia, and that there are places that better reflect other countries in Asia not heavily explored in the show.

If you’re going for “African”, like Colette said, you have to make Africa. Are you looking for jungles? Savanna? Desert? Scrub? Swamp? You name it, Africa’s got it. So pick what region you want, why you want it, and make sure it makes sense with the general geography.

Africa was diverse enough that it created multiple human ancestors while also allowing branching from early ancestors to create our closest genetic cousins. You have to account for that in worldbuilding. It isn’t just one place, but many, and deserves to be treated as such.

-Mod Lesya


Who Invented Memorial Day?
May 25, 2012 | Updated Jul 25, 2012
Jim Downs Historian and Author

As Americans enjoy the holiday weekend, does anyone know how Memorial Day originated?

On May 1, 1865, freed slaves gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to commemorate the death of Union soldiers and the end of the American Civil War. Three years later, General John Logan issued a special order that May 30, 1868 be observed as Decoration Day, the first Memorial Day — a day set aside “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”

At the time, the nation was reunited politically, but it remained culturally divided, and so did Memorial Day observations. In the North, the federal government created national cemeteries for men who died in the war, while state governments from New York to Michigan gradually made Decoration Day an official holiday throughout the 1870s. In the South, from April to June, women dressed in white and knelt beneath statues of fallen Confederate leaders; they told stories about the men who appeared in portraits lining the walls of many Southern homes. By the early 20th century, as Americans faced enemies abroad, many of the surviving Civil War veterans recognized their shared wartime history and reconciled their differences — turning Memorial Day into a national holiday.

As America recognizes the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, we would do well to revisit the origins of Memorial Day among freedpeople in Charleston. While they honored those who fought for their emancipation (which also celebrates its 150th birthday this summer), it was not simply a moment of great triumph and celebration for freedpeople, but a complicated process that led to the unexpected death of hundreds of thousands of former slaves.


While former slaves venerated the staggering number of Union soldiers who died during the war, few have observed the ways in which war and emancipation led to the astonishing mortality of many ex-slaves. Former bondspeople liberated themselves from chattel slavery and entered into an environment that was plagued by cholera, dysentery, and yellow fever — devastating nineteenth-century illnesses for which the medical profession knew no cure, and from which the poor and the marginalized suffered disproportionately. One of the most often-forgotten facts among the public displays and memorials about the Civil War is that the vast number of soldiers died from disease and sickness, not from combat wounds or battle — in fact, the war became the largest biological crisis of nineteenth-century America.

In their journeys toward freedom, ex-slaves often lacked adequate shelter, food, and clothing. Without the basic necessities to survive, freed slaves stood defenseless when a smallpox epidemic exploded in Washington in 1863 and then spread to the Lower South and Mississippi Valley in 1864 to 1865. A military official in Kentucky described smallpox as a “monster that needed to be checked,” while another federal agent witnessing the “severity and almost malignancy of the epidemic” believed that the virus was on the increase and predicted that “before the coming summer is over it will decimate the colored population.” In the end, the epidemic claimed the lives of over 60,000 former slaves, while other disease outbreaks and fatal epidemics raised the death toll of freedpeople to well over a million — more than a quarter of the newly freed population.

When historians describe casualties of the war, they uncover photos of mostly white enlisted men — bodies strewn across an image of a battlefield or, worst, piled on top of one another in a deep ditch, dead from the effects of a cannonball explosion. What we don’t see is dead freedpeople. The death of white participants in the Civil War is both valued and commemorated: framed as part of a larger saga of war and victory, and then propped up as the heroic embodiment of nationalism on Memorial Day. White people’s death is reenacted annually by thousands of people-who, for a hobby on a holiday weekend, get to play dead.

There was no rebirth for former slaves who died of disease and sickness after the war. There was no chance of them coming back to life in a costume worn by an admirer a century later. Buried under the fallen cities and the new harvests, the South, at its foundation, is a graveyard: a place where black people died in unimaginable numbers not from battle, but from disease and deprivation.

In the recognition of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, let us not forget that freed slaves created Memorial Day. Let us remember that their prayers and observations were not just for the deceased Union soldiers on that first Memorial Day, but also for members of their families and their community who died in a war that was meant to free them.

Jim Downs is the author of Sick From Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering During the Civil War and Reconstruction (Oxford U.P., May 2012). He is an associate professor of history at Connecticut College and has a MA and PhD from Columbia University.


The Rock Hewn Churches of Ethiopia,

One of the forgotten centers of Christianity, Ethiopia has an ancient history that can be traced back to Biblical times.  In the 4th century AD Christian missionaries flocked to the ancient kingdom, establishing a rich Christian heritage that now forms the foundation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  While Islam spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the Christian tradition continued in Ethiopia, with many Europeans thinking of Ethiopia as a “New Jerusalem”.

In the 12th and 13th centuries near the modern day village of Lalibela, a group of Coptic and Ethiopian Christians established a large religious center complete with monasteries and 11 churches.  However, the churches of Lalibela were unlike any other in all of Christendom.  Carved out of solid rock, the churches of Lalibela were built from the top down rather than the bottom up.  Essentially the engineers of the churches found large solid rock outcroppings, planned the shape and layout of the buildings, then had the workers begin carving downward.  An incredible feat of engineering and planning, the carving work alone would have taken years of tedious, exhausting hard work as the Ethiopians would have only had simple iron chisels and tools.  Aliens were probably not present.

Once the building was carved and shaped out, the workers would have then hollowed out the inside of the building, carving windows, interior spaces, chambers, vaults, domes, and archways.  Needless to say, being carved directly out of the solid stone, the churches of Lalibela were made to last.  The interior of the churches would have been decorated with Byzantine style icons, portraits, frescos, and mosaics whose color and beauty rival that of Medieval Europe.  Much of the artwork is still intact, fastidiously cared for by the monks and clerics who have occupied the grounds for hundreds of years.

In addition to the art and architecture of the rock hewn churches, the placement of the churches was not random or arbitrary.  Rather, the churches were built to take advantage of an artesian well system.  An artesian well is a well drilled into an aquifer that is under pressure from various layers of rock strata.  Due to this pressure, the water will have a tendency to rise to the surface when a well is drilled.  It is possible that the residents of the churches had running water which was supplied by the artesian system. It is quite clear that the Medieval Ethiopians were talented geologists as well as engineers.


External image

For centuries the rock hewn churches have been a focal point of pilgrimage for Coptic and Ethiopian Christians.  Even today, the churches are still used and serve as a center of holy pilgrimage.  Today the rock hewn churches of Lalibela are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Threats to the churches include encroaching development and damage done by tourists.  A few of the churches also have structural problems which the UN and Ethiopian government are working to fix.


“One of suffering and delight”– Obama opened the first Smithsonian museum for African American history with the most amazing speech

Way back in 1929, President Hoover approved a proposal for a National Memorial Building for African American achievements in arts and sciences — but Congress did not. Congress didn’t officially pass an act to erect a federally owned museum until 2003. Ground wasn’t broken until nine years later, with a little help from President Obama.

Gifs: The White House


Afro-Dominican History

In 1503, with the conquest and colonization of the island, the Spanish began to import large numbers of African slaves to replace the native labor, greatly reduced by wars, brutal working conditions and epidemics. About 80 or 90% of the native population died in the first century of the conquest. Meanwhile between 1492 and 1870 some 30,000 Africans were imported to the current Dominican territory to be devoted to sugar.

In 1503, arrived the first African slaves to the Española Island, mostly to the present Dominican Republic, since Spain had largely neglected the west of the island. This first slaves were Black “Ladinos”, i.e. born in Spain and Christianized and arrived as servants for the home of the island´s Spanish elite.

However, the number of slaves imported to the island was already sufficient for developed rebellions and escapes to the mountains by themselves. The rebels Africans lived with the indigenous in shelters away from urban centers. Even so, in 1510, were imported to the island others 250 Ladino slaves and in 1511, arrived others 5.000 African slaves to the shores of the island. In addition, with the establishment of the world’s first sugar mill on the Española island in 1516, the importation of African slaves greatly increased.

The slaves brought to Santo Domingo came from various parts of Africa and therefore belonged to different cultures. Although in the early days the slaves were Ladino, as traffic and intensified trade and colonial authorities demanded more slave labor for plantations and other housekeeping, were allowed introduction of black “bozales”, i.e. slaves imported directly from Africa. In 1522 took place on the island, the first major slave rebellion, rebellion led by 20 Muslims of Wolof origin, originating from Senegal, in an ingenio (sugar factory) of east of Santo Domingo island Many of the insurgents fled to the mountains and established what would become the first autonomous community African Maroon in America.

However, after the success of this revolt, slave revolts continued to emerge. So, emerged some leaders of African slaves, although already baptized by the Spanish, as is the case of Juan Vaquero, Diego de Guzmán and Diego del Campo. His rebellion led many slaves to flee their oppressors and establish many communities in the South West, North and East of the island, causing the first arrival of slaves, but free, in the current Haiti (remember that although this part of the island was also Spanish until 1697, when it was sold to France, had no Spanish people living in it).

This caused some concern among slaveholders and contributed to the Spanish emigration to other places. Thus, although sugarcane increased profitability in the island, the number of imported slaves who fled into it, continued to rise, mixing with Taíno indigenous of these regions. So, in 1530, Maroon bands already were considered dangerous to the Spanish colonists, so they had to carry large armed groups to travel outside the plantations and leaving the large part of the center and north of the island, very mountainous regions, where the Maroons lived (it was so, until 1654 with the conquest of Jamaica by Corsairs of British Admiral William Penn and general Robert Venables).

However, due to the discovery of precious metals in South America, the Spanish abandoned their migration to the island of Santo Domingo to emigrate to South America and Mexico in order to get rich, for they did not find much wealth in Santo Domingo. Thus, also abandoned the slave trade, that is, they stopped exporting slaves to the island. This led to the collapse of the colony in poverty. Anyway, during those years, slaves were forced to build a cathedral that in time became the most oldest in America. They build their monastery, first hospital and the Alcázar de Colón. In the 1540s, the Spanish authorities ordered the African slaves building a wall to defend the city from attacks by pirates who ravaged the islands. They also built the Puerta de las Lamentaciones (in Spanish: Gate of Mercy).

After 1700, with the arrival of new Spanish colonists, African slaves imported was renovated. In both plantations and isolated villages of runaways from east of the island, the population began to focus more on livestock and the importance of racial caste division was reduced, so that began to develop a mix between the Spanish colonists, African slaves and the natives of this part from Santo Domingo. This domain mixing together the social, cultural and economic European element will form the basis of national identity of Dominicans. It is estimated that the population of the colony in 1777 was 400,000, of which 100,000 were Europeans and Criollos, 60,000 African, 100.000 mestizo s, 60,000 Zambos and 100,000 mulatto.

At the end of the eighteenth century, arrived also to Spanish Santo Domingo, fugitive slaves from the French colony of the western part of the island, usually composed of black fugitives, escaped from the rigors of their masters, and that fed the Spanish colony since the time initial establishment of the French on the island. These slaves came directly from Africa, and in some cases they even form communities such as San Lorenzo de Los Mina, who is now district or sector of the city of Santo Domingo. Also, coming slaves from other parts of the West Indies, especially from the Lesser Antilles, dominated by French, English, Dutch, etc.

In 1801 Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture, who had occupied the east of Santo Domingo, abolished slavery in the place, as had happened in the west of the island, freeing about 40,000 slaves, and prompting most people who formed the elite of that part of the island flee to Cuba and Puerto Rico. However, when the Spanish recovered it, Spanish Santo Domingo re-established slavery in 1809.[8] During those years, the French governor Ferrand imported a second group of Haitian slaves, brought by in order to use them in founding the Puerto Napoleon (Samana), French colonial enclave. There was no running for the defeat of the French.

The abolition of the slavery was made in 1822, during the Haitian occupation of the Dominican territory, started in February, 1822. Between 1824, began to arrived African American freed people to Santo Domingo, benefiting from the favorable pro-African immigration policy of Haitian president Jean Pierre Boyer since 1822. This settlers were established in Puerto Plata Province and the Samaná Peninsula —then under Haitian administration. They were called Samaná Americans. Later, in 1844, two Afro Dominicans, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Matías Ramón Mella, freed the country alongside with Juan Pablo Duarte, of Haitian domain.

More late, between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, was developed a traffic black workers from the British West Indies in the first third of this century to work in the sugar plantations of the east of the island, and whose descendants are known today with the name of Cocolos.

After, many Haitian people began to settle in the Dominican Republic, a migration that has continued until today.


The Atlantic slave trade involved nearly all of Africa’s west coast inhabitants to be forcibly taken to the new world. Most Dominican slaves tended to come from mostly the Kongo people of West-Central Africa (present-day Angola, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), along with the Igbo (originating from west from Nigeria), Yoruba, Akan and Mandinka tribes.

Others African ethnic groups arrived to Spanish Santo Domingo during the slavery´s period were: Wolof (imported from Senegal), Aja (also called Ararás in Santo Domingo and imported from Dahomey, current Benin), Ambundu (from the Kingdom of Ndongo, in north Angola), Bran (originating from Brong-Ahafo Region, west from Ghana), Fulbe, Kalabari (originating from slave port from Calabar, in Nigeria), Terranova (slaves bought probably in Porto-Novo, Benin), Zape (originating from Sierra Leone), Bambara and Biafada (this latter was originating from Guinea-Bissau) people.

The Wolof were imported to Spanish Santo Domingo from Senegal in the first half of the sixteenth century, until the import of this ethnic group was prohibited after his rebellion in 1522. Many of the slaves were also Ajas, usually taken in Whydah, Benin. The Ajas arrived in Santo Domingo, were well known for having made religious brotherhoods, integrated exclusively for them, as the call San Cosme and San Damian.

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HYPHENATED* is a weekly social justice podcast by  BlackinAsia and unapologetically-yellow. We have just passed our 12th episode mark and wanted to thank everyone again for all of your support! If you missed any of the episodes from the past month you can find them here for reference:

2013: The Whitest Year in Music in 55 Years!

All Hail Queen Lupita Nyong'o- Black Excellence Personified!

Black Immigrants vs. African-Americans: Overcoming Divides & Building Community

Special Episode!- Questions on Questions

Breaking the Radio Silence: Violent Government Crackdown on Protests in Venezuela (feat. Oscar)

Older Episodes: (Episodes 1-4), (Episodes 5-8)

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