This Initiative Beautifully Shows Everyday Life As A Black Woman ~ Taryn Finley

Njaimeh Njie is exploring the many different complexities of black womanhood in the United States with her new website, Power(ed) by Grace: Musings on Black Womanhood.

The project, which Njie started last spring, documents the different realms of life that impact black women and girls by providing photo and video content to help them tell their stories. Starting with photos of the black women in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Njie has honed in on the everyday complexities and nuances of black womanhood that are often overlooked in mainstream media by showing these women in their everyday element. In the photo series, some of which can be seen on her Instagram, she shows black women gardening, skateboarding, enjoying their homegirls’ company and more.

“I came to focus on exploring the small moments in black women’s lives because, when pulled together, these are what make us who we are,” Njie wrote on Blavity about why she created Power(ed) by Grace. “By lifting up our everyday ups and downs, I hoped to provide a space where we could see and appreciate the beauty in ourselves and consequently share that with the world.”

According to her site, Power(ed) by Grace wants to help promote diversity and to uplift the lives of black women by asking them to define themselves on their own terms and in boundless ways without society’s input.

“Black women are human beings deserving of care and consideration, and we deserve images that reflect the nuances, trials and triumphs of our lives,” Njie wrote. “The content and stories on this platform are a simple declaration that we’re here, we’ve been here and we’re not going anywhere. I hope that there are black girls and women out there who will see this and find some of their stories, but I also hope that anyone who engages in this work can see it and find their stories, too.”

 

Also on HuffPost:

  • Shirley Chisolm (1924–2005)
    New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images
    Chisolm broke major barriers when she became the first black congresswoman in 1968. She continued on her political track when she ran for president four years later, making her the first major-party black candidate to run.
  • Claudette Colvin (1939-)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Several months before Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus, Colvin was the FIRST person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, at the age of 15. She also served as one of four plaintiffs in the case of Browder v. Gayle, which ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional.
  • Septima Poinsette Clark (1898–1987)
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    Clark was an educator and civil rights activist who established citizenship schools that helped many African Americans register to vote. Regarded as a pioneer in grassroots citizenship education, she was active with the NAACP in getting more black teachers hired in the South.
  • Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954)
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    This women’s suffrage activist and journalist was the first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a charter member of the NAACP. She was also one of the first African American women to be awarded a college degree.
  • Angela Davis (1944-)
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    Davis is an American revolutionary and educator. The former Black Panther has fought for race, class and gender equality over the years. Davis authored one of the of the most distinguished books in the field of women’s studies called Women, Race & Class. She’s also an advocate of prison reform.
  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931)
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    Wells helped bring international attention to the horrors of lynching in the South with her investigative journalism. She was also elected as the Secretary of the Colored Press Association in 1889.
  • Kathleen Cleaver (1945-)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Kathleen Cleaver is one of the central figures in Black Panther history. She was the first communications secretary for the organization and is currently a law professor at Emory University. She also helped found the Human Rights Research Fund.
  • Dr. Dorothy Height (1912-2010)
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    Dr. Height was regarded by President Barack Obama as “the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement.” She served as the president of the National Council of Negro Women for over two decades and was instrumental in the integration of all YWCA centers in 1946.
  • Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
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    Wheatley was a former slave who was kidnapped from West Africa and brought to America. She was bought by a Boston family and became their personal servant. With the aid of the family, she learned to read and eventually became one of the first women to publish a book of poetry in 1773.
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
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    This Caribbean-American writer and activist was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior and poet.” She empowered her readers with her moving poetry often tackling the injustices of racism, sexism and homophobia. She’s known for her poetry and memoirs such as, From a Land Where Other People Live, The Black Unicorn and A Burst of Light. 
  • Flo Kennedy (1916-2000)
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    Kennedy was a founding member of the National Organization of Women and one of the first black female lawyers to graduate from Columbia Law School. She helped found the Feminist Party in 1971 which went on to nominate Representative Shirley Chisholm for president.
  • Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
    Wikimedia Commons
    Johnson was an outspoken and fearless trans woman who was a vital part in the fight for civil rights for the LGBT community in New York. She was known as the patron at Stonewall Inn who initiated resistance on the night the police raided the bar.
  • Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
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    Born Isabella Baumfree, she escaped slavery with her infant daughter and changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She’s best known for her speech delievered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851 titled “Ain’t I A Woman?”
  • Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977)
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    Hamer was a civil rights activist and organizer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Fannie Lou Hamer. She helped blacks register to vote and co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
  • Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)
    Chicago History Museum via Getty Images
    Dr. Bethune was an educator and civil rights activist who believed education was the key to racial advancement. She served as the president of the National Association of Colored Women and founded the National Council of Negro Women. She was also the president and founder of Bethune-Cookman College in Florida.
  • Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
    Robert Abbott Sengstacke via Getty Images
    This poet was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her 1949 book titled Annie Allen. 
  • Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)
    Fotosearch via Getty Images
    Coleman became the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license and the first black woman to stage a public flight in the United States. She specialized in stunt flying and parachuting and remains a pioneer for women in aviation.
  • Lena Horne (1917-2010)
    Gilles Petard via Getty Images
    Horne was a popular actress and singer who was most known for her performances in the films “Stormy Weather” and “The Wiz.” She worked closely with civil rights groups and refused to play roles that stereotyped black women.
  • Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994)
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    Nicknamed “the black gazelle,” Rudolph was born premature and was stricken with polio as a child. Though her doctor said she would never be able to walk without her brace, she went on to become a track star. She became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960.
  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
    Gilles Petard via Getty Images
    Holiday was an extremely influential jazz vocalist who was known for her “distinctive phrasing and expressive, sometimes melancholy voice.” Two of her most famous songs are “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit,” a heart-wrenching ballad about blacks being lynched in the South.
  • Diane Nash (1938-)
    Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
    Nash is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She was instrumental in organizing the Freedom Rides, which helped desegregate interstate buses in the South. She also planned the Selma Voting Rights Movement in response to the Birmingham 16th Street Church bombing that killed four young girls.
  • Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
    Fotosearch via Getty Images
    Hurston was an anthropologist and author during the Harlem Renaissance. Though she didn’t receive much recognition for her work while she was alive, her works of fiction, especially Their Eyes Were Watching God,  became staples in American literature.
  • Hattie McDaniel (1893-1952)
    CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images
    As an actress, McDaniel appeared in more than 300 films and was the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940. She was also the star of the CBS Radio program, “The Beulah Show.”
  • Ruby Bridges (1954-)
    Wikimedia Commons
    Ruby Bridges was six years old when she became the first black child to integrate an all-white school in the South. She was escorted to class by her mother and U.S. marshals due to violent mobs outside of the Mississippi school.
  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault (1942-)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Hunter-Gault was the first black woman to enroll at the University of Georgia. She became an award-winning journalist after she graduated and worked for outlets such as the New York Times, PBS and NPR.
  • Daisy Bates (1914-1999)
    Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
    As a civil rights activist and journalist, Bates documented the fight to end segregation in Arkansas. Along with her husband, she ran a weekly black newspaper and became the president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP.
  • Dr. Mae Jemison (1956-)
    Science & Society Picture Library via Getty Images
    Dr. Jemison is the first black woman to be admitted into the astronaut training program and fly into space in 1987. Jemison also developed and participated in research projects on the Hepatitis B vaccine and rabies.
  • Ella Baker (1903-1986)
    Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
    Baker was the national director for the  NAACP. She also worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. As one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement, Baker is known for her leadership style which helped develop others’ skills to become leaders in the fight for a better future.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-initiative-beautifully-shows-everyday-life-as-a-black-woman_us_56cb2978e4b0ec6725e33024?

20 Things The World Wouldn’t Have If Black People Didn’t Exist ~ Michael Blackmon

1. If it weren’t for a black man, your home would probably be super dusty because you wouldn’t have a dust pan.

If it weren't for a black man, your home would probably be super dusty because you wouldn't have a dust pan.

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Lloyd P. Ray invented the tool that makes it so much easier to dispose of trash. He improved the earlier model by making it able to stand.

2. And you wouldn’t have anything to iron your wrinkly clothes on if it weren’t for the black woman who invented the ironing board.

And you wouldn't have anything to iron your wrinkly clothes on if it weren't for the black woman who invented the ironing board.

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Sarah Boone patented this universal household item.

3. And wouldn’t your pool parties suck without a Super Soaker?

And wouldn't your pool parties suck without a Super Soaker?

Jeff Krause / Creative Commons / Via flic.kr

Lonnie G. Johnson, a black man, invented one of the most popular toys from your childhood.

4. Your floors would be sticky and icky if it weren’t for the guy who created the mop.

Your floors would be sticky and icky if it weren't for the guy who created the mop.

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Thomas W. Stewart improved upon the mop originally patented by Jacob Howe.

5. How terrible would it be to not have a place to keep your leftovers from going bad? Good thing someone made the refrigerator.

How terrible would it be to not have a place to keep your leftovers from going bad? Good thing someone made the refrigerator.

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John Standard is the guy to thank for this since he improved the original version.

6. Imagine how terrifying it’d be to take an elevator without doors? Good thing someone made automatic elevator doors a thing.

Imagine how terrifying it'd be to take an elevator without doors? Good thing someone made automatic elevator doors a thing.

Harmpeti / Getty Images

Alexander Miles is responsible for that.

7. And you probably already knew a black man created one of the first traffic lights, right?

And you probably already knew a black man created one of the first traffic lights, right?

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Garrett Morgan did it.

8. That same man also invented the gas mask.

That same man also invented the gas mask.

Moodboard / Getty Images

Pretty cool.

9. Also, wouldn’t it be horrible to wake up without a way to get your luscious locks in order? Thank goodness for heated combs.

Also, wouldn't it be horrible to wake up without a way to get your luscious locks in order? Thank goodness for heated combs.

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Shout-out to Walter Sammons for creating an improved version of the heated comb.

10. Good thing a black man gifted the world with potato chips.

Good thing a black man gifted the world with potato chips.

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George Crum is said to be responsible for creating everyone’s favorite snack.

11. Imagine how unkempt your lawn would look without a sprinkler.

Imagine how unkempt your lawn would look without a sprinkler.

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Joseph H. Smith was the mastermind who updated this invention.

12. Oh, and a black man created the modern lawn mower, too.

Oh, and a black man created the modern lawn mower, too.

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John Burr made one of the first with a rotary blade.

13. The first home security system was patented by a black woman.

The first home security system was patented by a black woman.

Edwardsamuelcornwall / Getty Images

You can sleep well at night knowing Marie Van Brittan Brown is responsible for making the predecessor to the modern-day home security system.

14. The black woman who created the gas heating furnace changed the way people warm their homes.

The black woman who created the gas heating furnace changed the way people warm their homes.

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Alice Parker is the reason we can keep toasty during the winter months.

15. A PB&J just wouldn’t be the same without the peanut butter. Yep, a black man is responsible for this deliciousness.

A PB&J just wouldn't be the same without the peanut butter. Yep, a black man is responsible for this deliciousness.

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You’ve definitely heard of George Washington Carver, right? Of course you have.

16. Drying clothes on a line is fun if you’ve got the time. Props to the hero who created the clothes dryer.

Drying clothes on a line is fun if you've got the time. Props to the hero who created the clothes dryer.

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George T. Sampson received the first patent for the mechanical clothes dryer.

17. OK, and we know Thomas Edison made the light bulb, but it’d be nothing without the black man who created carbon filament.

OK, and we know Thomas Edison made the light bulb, but it'd be nothing without the black man who created carbon filament.

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Lewis Latimer was a genius, and also held the patent for the electric lamp.

18. People who can’t drive a stick shift are definitely happy someone created the automatic gearshift.

People who can't drive a stick shift are definitely happy someone created the automatic gearshift.

Rukawajung / Getty Images

Richard Spikes did that.

19. Our hearts are blessed because of the guy who made the pacemaker.

Our hearts are blessed because of the guy who made the pacemaker.

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Otis Boykin is a true hero.

20. And finally, if black people didn’t exist, you probably wouldn’t have been introduced to the beauty of ice cream scoops.

And finally, if black people didn't exist, you probably wouldn't have been introduced to the beauty of ice cream scoops.

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You can thank Alfred L. Cralle for that.

Black people make the world go ‘round.

20 Things The World Wouldn't Have If Black People Didn't Exist

I Tried It…Being White ~ Sharline Chiang

Sharline Chiang is a Berkeley-based journalist who has written for the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Daily News and Mutha Magazine. She’s a longtime member of VONA, a national community of writers of color.

I permed my hair.

Bleached it. 

Saved up for eyelid surgery, breast implants. I wanted blue contacts, badly. I only had white friends. I listened to Bon Jovi.

None of it made me white.

I remember being 8 years old and wishing Santa would make me white. I woke up Christmas day to find the same me in the mirror: same small eyes, sallow skin, straight black hair. Same ugly, Chinese-looking me. Somewhere inside, I was saying, “Fuck you, Santa! Thanks for nothing!” I grew up in suburban New Jersey in the ’70s and ’80s. At school there were a few black kids and a couple of Latinos and Asians, but we were scattered, like dim stars along the Milky Way. 

I wanted to be white.

White was not being asked questions like you were a foreigner even though you were born in New York City (“Where are you really from?” “How is your English so good?”). It meant not having Jeff, the boy you had a crush on, place tacks on your chair and shout, “I GOT THE CHINK!” It meant not having kids set your trees on fire two Mischief Nights in a row.

I wanted to be blonde. Blonde Barbie ruled. Farrah ruled. Chrissy was hot. Janet was not.

When I was little and played with my favorite Honey Hill Bunch dolls, guess who all the boys tried to get with? Darlin’ — the sweet blonde who carried a pink purse, whose motto on her packaging was “I’m so pretty, don’t you agree?” No one wanted the girl with a high IQ. There was an Asian doll literally named “I.Q.” She wore glasses on her head and carried a book. Her motto was (I shit you not) “I always get straight As in school!”

being white

The author at 14.

Source: Sharline Chiang

When I was 14 my mother wouldn’t let me bleach my hair, but she did consent to my getting a Mohawk. A girl I admired showed up at school with one. My hair could not do perfect Farrah wings, but I was pretty sure I could rock spikes. Except, my mother said I had to get a perm first. She had a thing about perms, said they were the only things that made our “lifeless” hair look good. Here’s what happened:

My mother to hairdresser: “Give her a perm. And a ma-huck.”

Hairdresser: “A what?”

Mom: “A ma-huck. Long on back, short on top.”

Here’s what I got: a tight perm — and a mullet.

Do you know how long it takes to grow out a mullet? About the same time it takes to graduate from junior high. That year, I tried out for several school plays and finally got a role.

My father: “How could you be cast as the daughter of an American family? Won’t the audience be confused?”

“No,” I said. “They can put makeup on me. I could look, you know, French.”

My mother winced. “Sharline, you will never look French. You will always look Chinese.”

In ninth grade, when I wasn’t busy dressing up like Madonna or Cyndi Lauper, I focused on becoming popular. I tried out for cheerleading; didn’t make it. Signed up for field hockey; sat on the bench. In a desperate move I joined the marching band. I couldn’t play an instrument, so I “played” the cymbals.

Being white

The author today.

Source: Sharline Chiang

Over the next two decades I went on to date a lot of white guys (eventually I married a white guy). Still, I wasn’t white. I made my first non-white friend, a black woman in LA, when I was 28. To this, she said: “Are you shitting me?”

Somewhere in my 30s I stopped trying to be white. Living in California and making friends with proud African-Americans, Latinos, Middle Eastern Americans and Asian-Americans, my world opened. My old self-hatred slowly dissipated, replaced by a new appreciation for myself, of how I had spent my life internalizing racism and perpetuating the notion of white supremacy.

As writer Junot Díaz put it: “White supremacy is the great silence of our world … white supremacy would not fucking operate without people of color to run it. It’s not that white people don’t contribute to it. They do. But it couldn’t continue to exist without people of color. White supremacy is inside all of us. And that’s why it’s so malign and difficult to confront.”

I try to confront it by talking about it. I read works by writers like Maxine Hong Kingston and Toni Morrison. They remind me to feel proud to be Chinese-American and a woman of color. They remind me of my ancestors’ resilience and the courage of people of color in this country. I read books featuring kids of different races to my daughter — a hapa toddler with eyes like mine but curly auburn hair — in hopes that this will help her love herself even though she looks “different.” I send her to a Mandarin preschool; she takes pride in being able to speak Chinese. I take a moment to celebrate the show Fresh Off the Boat, because it matters that for the first time in 20 years, I can see an Asian-American family on TV (hey, we exist!). 

And these days, I just leave my hair the fuck alone. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a start.

http://www.ozy.com/true-story/i-tried-it-being-white/38961

Visual Artist Patrick Campbell’s Powerful Painting Heads To The Smithsonian ~ Erin White

 

One month after Mike Brown’s body laid uncovered in the streets of Ferguson, illustrator Patrick Campbell took to canvas and painted a new American flag: the old flag turned vertically, trails of red watercolor form nooses, from which human figures hang. ‘The New Age of Slavery’ is a disturbing and visceral reminder of America’s perpetual cycle of state-sanctioned violence against black Americans. And while images of hanged bodies juxtaposed against postcolonial nationalism harken back to slavery and Jim Crow, the sound of Eric Garner begging for air, the sight of Walter Scott’s fleeing back, and the story of Aiyana Jones cause the line between past and present to blur into one.

“This was a piece originally done because I was sick of the African American death that has been occurring too much with Travyon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and many more, due to… the government not caring! As African Americans, what is our life worth? As a people we SHOULD NOT be afraid of our government.” 

Campbell’s painting will be on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens it’s doors in 2016.

By Erin White, AFROPUNK contributor

Photo above: ‘The New Age of Slavery’

Photo above: Untitled

Photo above: ‘Blood on our Hands

https://www.facebook.com/PatrickCampbellArt/

 

http://www.afropunk.com/profiles/blogs/patrick-campbell-powerful-paintings

Black Skin by K. Kenneth Edusei

Is there room for black skin?
It isn’t so chic,
God saw the light was good,
So he left the evil with me,
They say I’m a suspect,
I was killed for wearing a hoodie,
A 1,000 times I’ve been stopped and frisked,
I am incarcerated more than I should be,
I am paid less than other workers,
Can I give a shout-out to Lily Ledbetter?
I wonder if she’d been paid even less,
If her skin was a different color?
The academics say I am stupid,
They call it the achievement gap,
However when I ask about education funding,
I’m told “We are still working on that.”
Then they wonder why I’m disruptive,
Why I don’t do my work and pass,
They know I have no money,
Yet I’m bombarded with a million ads,
Class is not even over,
But cops are waiting at the door,
I asked about the school to prison pipeline,
And a judicial system’s negligence for the minority and poor,
I was told there is a propensity for violence,
Ignorance is so far reaching,
Sometimes I want to ask society,
Just. What. Are. You. Thinking?!
My skin contains the History of American Violence,
I’ve been lynched so many times I can’t remember,
I console my sisters who’ve been raped,
I hasten to bury another brother,
I had the seal of an owner,
Branded deep into my flesh,
Now I am a whole person,
Whose value is decidedly less,
How easily forgotten is their violence,
I am still called a n—-r,
But I use the word too,
So I guess that makes it all better,
My propensity is for self-determination,
I strive against an oppressive system,
They don’t acknowledge it is broken,
Instead I’m the one that needs the fixing,
So I am trying to be whiter,
Hopefully society will let me in,
If I work really hard for acceptance,
Maybe they will not see my black skin.