american cultural history

Can we talk about American Gods? We really have a dark-skin black woman playing a Biblical Queen and a Love Goddess. We have Black People portraying Egyptian Gods. The lead of the show is black. They have West African Gods being portrayed on mainstream media. Seeing black people’s mythology and history represented on screen by black actors is a big thing. People aren’t even aware of nor regard the several figures in Abrahamic religions being African. .

Celebrating African-American Social Dance

This is the Bop. The Bop is a type of social dance. Dance is a language, and social dance is an expression that emerges from a community. A social dance isn’t choreographed by any one person. It can’t be traced to any one moment. Each dance has steps that everyone can agree on, but it’s about the individual and their creative identity Because of that, social dances bubble up, they change, and they spread like wildfire. They are as old as our remembered history.

In African-American social dances, we see over 200 years of how African and African-American traditions influenced our history. The present always contains the past. And the past shapes who we are and who we will be.

Now, social dance is about community and connection; if you knew the steps, it meant you belonged to a group. But what if it becomes a worldwide craze? Enter the Twist.

It’s no surprise that the Twist can be traced back to the 19th century, brought to America from the Congo during slavery. But in the late ‘50s, right before the Civil Rights Movement, the Twist is popularized by Chubby Checker and Dick Clark. Suddenly, everybody’s doing the Twist: white teenagers, kids in Latin America, making its way into songs and movies. Through social dance, the boundaries between groups become blurred.

The story continues in the 1980s and '90s. Along with the emergence of hip-hop, African-American social dance took on even more visibility, borrowing from its long past, shaping culture and being shaped by it. Today, these dances continue to evolve, grow and spread.

Why do we dance? To move, to let loose, to express.

Why do we dance together? To heal, to remember, to say: “We speak a common language. We exist and we are free.”

From the TED-Ed Lesson The history of African-American social dance - Camille A. Brown

Camille A. Brown is a choreographer fusing dance and social commentary to explore race, sexuality and femininity.

Title Design by Kozmonot Animation Studio 

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Muhammad Ali with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, his mother Odessa Clay and a crowd of fans at his home in Miami on February 28, just 3 days after winning his first Heavyweight title vs Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964.  

Photos by Tony Triolo

As we all know, October is drawing near and the next big event will be on October 9th, which unfortunately is still “Columbus Day” in several parts of the US.

Since October 9th will be an especially difficult time for a lot of Natives, I say we should go all out. Post selfies, post artwork or poems or things you’ve created, submit or send asks about your favorite Indigenous films, actors, activists, historical figures, or anything that gives you a sense of pride and inspiration.

If you would like The Aila Test to add links to articles/documentaries/other sources that detail the horrors of Christopher Columbus, let us know. We will set up a tag if you’d like to blacklist it, but I think it would be helpful and healing for everybody if we made this day more about us, our accomplishments, our creation, our pride, and our personal growth and happiness.

If Tumblr is going to be your place to escape on that day, it might help if your feed is full of beautiful Indigenous people.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on how to make these days special or if you have any questions.

See you then!

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CultureSOUL *50s*: African Americans in Color c. 1950s

Photo credits:

  1. Southern California c. 1950s
  2. Southern California c. 1950s
  3. Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956. Gordon Parks
  4. Southern California, 1956
  5. Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia, 1956. Gordon Parks
  6. Bathing Beauties contest c. 1950s
  7. Coney Island, NY, 1957
  8. Location unknown c. 1950s
  9. Wedding, Southern California, 1956
  10. Rare color image from the “A Great Day In Harlem” iconic Jazz photo shoot. This close up features Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams and Thelonious Monk.

For more images of African Americans in color, see this Gordon Parks photo essay on the Civil Rights era recently published in HuffPost.

#50sMonth

Adopted Native, Happier Connected with his Roots

@sire-aie asked:

my MC is half native half white.he is not close to his culture+background because his native parent doesn’t not live with him.where he lives it is also considered by others shameful to be native because of political reasons.he later on meets a group of natives and starts to become more spiritual and happy w/ himself. is it bad to make him happy only when he starts to learn more about his heritage? is it cliche? he also starts to grow his hair at this time to feel more connected to his heritage.

Alright so. I’m going to remind everyone that if you’re going to send in a question, pick a tribe. But this question in particular is hitting a note with Indigenous cultural experience that I feel very, very necessary to address.

Forced seizure and adoption of Native individuals is a very real part of being Native. A Cree elder I spoke to is a lawyer who specializes in stopping these seizures. One particularly memorable reason she had to stop a child being taken from an “unfit parent” was the parent didn’t have laundry on site. That’s just one of many ridiculous examples that happened, and still happens to this day.

If you’re dealing with somebody mixed who doesn’t have his Native parent live with him, you’re potentially dealing with an unfair custody ruling and a whole whacking bunch of racism around the start of it. The assumption that he lives in an area where it’s shameful to be Native points to a massive lack of cultural sensitivity from the white parent, which is sadly extremely common.
As a result: it would be very much not cliche to have him be happier when he reconnects with his heritage. He’s going to stop learning to be ashamed of himself and start undoing the colonial legacy of the 60s Scoop and residential schools. He could always feel conflicted about what to pick, but starting to accept part of your racial identity is a good thing! It means your self hate goes down, it means you stop feeling like you can’t exist the way you are, it means you start to breathe.

I wouldn’t treat it as a completely magic pill— the amount of work that goes into not hating part of your identity is an incredible amount— but no, it is absolutely not cliche to have reconnection= an increase in happiness. 

Just please, please educate yourself on the reason Native kids are taken away from their cultures, and understand the white parent should be treated as not a very good person for putting their child through that. Because they aren’t. Teaching your child to be ashamed of their identity is abusive. While you haven’t mentioned the parent directly, that parent still moved to a place where there weren’t many other Natives and there was a cultural message of white as superior. Unless they advocated for the child’s identity, they’re an abuser, full stop.

~ Mod Lesya

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Malcolm X with his daughter Qubilah Shabazz in Harlem on February 20, 1965.  

He was assassinated the next day at the Audubon Ballroom in front of his wife and children.

(Photos by Duilio Pallottelli)