culture

These photos of upper-class black Victorians show history isn’t just white

Image from the Thomas E. Askew/Daniel Murray Collection/Library of Congress
Image from the Thomas E. Askew/Daniel Murray Collection/Library of Congress

For all of those who think that black people, and non-white people in general, were doing nothing in the past except being poor servants or street beggars, this post is for you. You are the prime people who need to view these amazing photos of black Victorians living and thriving in 1800s America and beyond.

Upworthy has posted 17 images of black Victorians that should leave everyone viewing them filled with a bunch of good emotions. One of my favorite images is this one:

Image from Thomas E. Askew/Daniel Murray Collection/Library of Congress.
Image from the Thomas E. Askew/Daniel Murray Collection/Library of Congress.

I have a kinship with this girl, simply because we both have the same kind of hair. If her experience has been anything like my experience, she’s suffered the “Exotic” card a lot. I understand why you’re looking off into the distance with a long-suffering look on your face, girl. I get it.

There are two major takeaways to glean from these photos:

1. Nearly everyone, if not all subjects photographed, are of the upper-middle and upper-upper set.

Taking photography during the 1800s was still a luxury activity. When you did go take a photo, you went in all of your finery, to show off your wealth (or, if you were of the lower class, you were showing off that you had saved up enough money to splurge). Most of the people in these photographs have titles—Rev. Hiram R. Revels, the first black person to serve in the U.S. Senate, humanitarian and activist Eartha Mary Magdalene White, debutante Nellie Franklin, soprano opera singer Marie Selkia Williams, who became the first black performer at the White House, Blanche Kelso Bruce, the first black man to serve a full term in Senate, Yoruban princess Sarah Forbes Bonetta, who was raised as Queen Elizabeth’s goddaughter and future wife of rich Nigerian businessman Capt. James Pinson Labulo Davies, etc.

Also of note; some of the subjects in the photos are from northern Florida (one woman is from Tallahassee). Florida, specifically northern and north-central Florida, is home to several historically black towns, in which black wealth and status could flourish. That’s not to say that there weren’t rich black people in other parts of America, because there were. But there’s a history lesson within the pictures that is worth learning about.

Related article: ‘Black Wall Street’ Being Brought to Life by John Legend and Tika Sumpter | Ebony.com

2. History doesn’t just revolve around white people. 

The thing that’s most annoying about historical dramas or even high fantasy like The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones is when people say, “black people weren’t in these areas during this time.” First, fantasy isn’t real, so anyone can be anywhere. Secondly, history has always included other people apart from white people. It’s just that the tellers of history have often skewed the conversation to only focus on white, Western accomplishments.

These pictures show that there’s a larger story about America and the world that too few people know about. We should all know about Sarah Forbes Bonetta. We should all know about Eartha Mary Magdalene White, Marie Selkia Williams, Blanche Kelso Bruce, and many more. The fact that these photos are as revolutionary as they are only goes to show just how startlingly rare it is to see black stories outside of a very controlled, slavery-centric context. Everyone should get to know what life really looked like throughout history; not every moment revolved around what a white person is doing.

Visit Upworthy and check out the article; you’ll be glad you did.

Gospel singers take Neon Genesis Evangelion to holy heights

YouTube/screengrab
YouTube/screengrab

As a long time anime fan, I’ve heard and watched Neon Genesis Evangelion. But a confession that must be made is that while I appreciate the show, I never really got into Evangelion. But, I love the theme song almost as much as Oprah loves bread. It’s easily one of the most iconic theme songs in anime history. Now, the song has become even more iconic after a gospel group takes it to yet another awesome level.

The group, Glory Gospel Singers, appeared on an episode of Japanese singing show NHK Nodo Jiman (NHK Amateur Singing Contest), and they blew the audience away by combining their traditional gospel roots with classic anime. Check it out for yourself.

I love when I see videos featuring beautiful cross-cultural moments, and this video is certainly no exception. What did you think about this video? And if you’re a Neon Genesis Evangelion fan, what do you love about the show? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Oh, how far Latina’s come: Latina Magazine celebrates 20 years of progress in Hollywood with Platinum Anniversary Issue

Latina Magazine celebrates its platinum anniversary with a photomosaic of the legendary Selena Quintanilla.
Latina Magazine celebrates its platinum anniversary with a photomosaic of the legendary Selena Quintanilla.

NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Latina magazine— the first in its space and the number one destination for the 35 million acculturated, second and third generation American Latinas—celebrates 20 years with a look back at the progress Latinas have made in Hollywood over the past two decades.

The magazine celebrates it’s platinum anniversary with a cover of the most influential Latinas (Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Gloria Estefan, Christina Aguilera, and Sophia Vergara, among others) that combined creates a photomosaic of the legendary Selena Quintanilla (www.latina.com/20years).

“We chose Selena because, unlike other Latino stars who at the time made it big by modifying their names and ‘passing’ as white, Selena turned to her culture first, rediscovering her roots to find her voice,” said Latina Editorial Director Robyn Moreno. “And through her voice, American Latinas found theirs and learned they didn’t need to change to make it big.”

The thought bomb of Christy Haubegger, Latina became a pioneering force for Latinas underserved by the general market and Spanish language media. Latinas were, for the most part, invisible to mainstream culture during most of the 80s and 90s. For the past two decades, Latina has played a central role in helping readers connect to their culture, while also helping shape and launch the careers of some of the biggest Latina stars.

Through the help of Latina’s covers, J.Lo became a queen, Christina Aguilera crossed over, and Selma Hayek gained A-list status and was the first Latina to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

In the words of some of Latina’s most influential celebrity cover interviews on the progress Latinas have made in the past 20 years:

“When Hollywood starts considering me for roles where ethnic background doesn’t matter, that’s an even bigger step in the right direction for me.” – Jennifer Lopez (Summer 1996)

“A lot of my fans are young girls, and they go ‘You’re someone young Latin girls can look up to’ because there really aren’t many.” Christina Aguilera (December 1999)

“I want to empower young women like me to fulfill their dreams. I hope I can inspire somebody to get focused on what they want out of life instead of just taking what’s given to them.” Jessica Alba (March 2008)

Chris Hemsworth’s apology is amazing—here’s why

Photo: Chris Hemsworth/Instagram
Photo: Chris Hemsworth/Instagram

Chris Hemsworth plays a Marvel superhero on screen, and on the regular, he lives out a rather superheroic life by making children’s dreams come true. But with his latest tweet, he’s ascended even further into superhero status by actually doing what many people seem incapable of doing–actually apologizing for being racially and culturally insensitive.

Recently, Hemsworth tweeted out his support of those against the North Dakota pipeline. In his statement of support, he also gave a heartfelt apology for a picture from a New Year’s Eve party he and his wife held last year. We saw that picture, and naturally, people felt upset, and rightly so. Dressing up as Native stereotypes isn’t cool. This year, we see Hemsworth is a new outlook on his actions.

Standing with those who are fighting to protect their sacred land and water. #nodapl #waterislife #mniwiconi @taikawaititi I would also like to take this opportunity to raise something that has been bothering me for sometime. Last New Year’s Eve I was at a “Lone Ranger” themed party where some of us, myself included, wore the traditional dress of First Nations people. I was stupidly unaware of the offence this may have caused and the sensitivity around this issue. I sincerely and unreservedly apologise to all First Nations people for this thoughtless action. I now appreciate that there is a great need for a deeper understanding of the complex and extensive issues facing indigenous communities. I hope that in highlighting my own ignorance I can help in some small way.

A photo posted by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on

“Standing with those who are fighting to protect their sacred land and water. #nodapl #waterislife#mniwiconi @taikawaititiI would also like to take this opportunity to raise something that has been bothering me for sometime. Last New Year’s Eve I was at a “Lone Ranger” themed party where some of us, myself included, wore the traditional dress of First Nations people. I was stupidly unaware of the offence this may have caused and the sensitivity around this issue. I sincerely and unreservedly apologise to all First Nations people for this thoughtless action. I now appreciate that there is a great need for a deeper understanding of the complex and extensive issues facing indigenous communities. I hope that in highlighting my own ignorance I can help in some small way.”

Related post: Three Reasons Why You Should Care About the North Dakota Pipeline Fight

If we take a cynical approach, we could easily say, “Well, clearly he’s apologizing because the director of his Thor: Ragnarok is an indigenous person.” But, isn’t interacting with people how others learn about their ignorances in the first place?

The whole point of multiculturalism is to learn more about each other and how we can better ourselves. We’ve all come into contact with some limited aspects of ourselves that become broadened when we interact with people with different life experiences and cultures different from our own. I know I’ve had that happen to me before. Many people are afraid to experience other cultures because, as we are vulnerable creatures, we are afraid of being wrong. It takes a big person to actually apologize for ignorance, and it takes a smart person to know what they’re apologizing for. For that, I commend Hemsworth for doing so.

He didn’t just put out a B.S. apology like some out there have done in the past (insert name of who you think fits in this space now—you’ve got a lot to choose from). He put out an apology that reads as sincere and thought-out, particularly when he wrote that this issue had been “bothering [him] for some time.” He’s had a lot of time to process this, and while his apology might not have come as quickly as we as a collective might like, it’s better that it came from him when he had an understanding of the issues.

Now, can more people decide to think outside of their minds and apologize for things they’ve done wrong? Can more people follow Hemsworth’s example? If so, that’d be great.

What do you think about Hemsworth’s apology? Give your opinions in the comments section below!