Whitewashed by art?

In class we’ve talked about how black women have historically been pushed to the back and often times forgotten about. In many instances the history of black women is distorted and disregarded. This also stands true when it comes to the conversation of art. Many art pieces in modern day have been whitewashed and continue to diminish the existence of black women in historical art. In an article by Sophia Smith Galer, Galer uses many examples of historical black skinned females in mythology and history that have been whitewashed in art. Andromeda, who was a originally depicted as a black princess from Ethiopia, has been made to be a white woman in many art pieces. She was in fact a black woman, but many artist went on believing she was white. In addition, in many paintings of the old testament the queen of Sheba is depicted as white. Gale notes “the Renaissance saw a whitewashing and sexualization of the Queen of Sheba”. This quote stuck out to me because as we’ve discussed in class black women are often unnecessarily over sexualized. I found this article to be very relevant to our class because of the discussions we’ve had about how black women are forgotten or the last in line for respect. It is important to realize that this idea can be applied to other disciplines that aren’t usually discussed. Art is one of those disciplines and examines this idea closely.

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Are black women essential to victory?

The upcoming 2020 election is stirring up a lot of buzz and has everyone wondering whats next. In an article by Donna Edwards, she explains how black women have become the key to many statewide races for democrats. She acknowledges how the election came together for her during her time in the hair salon. Edwards states “My salon, and thousands like it across the country, is where the 2020 election will be decided”. Edwards expands on the idea that the votes casted by black women will be crucial to the 2020 election for democrats. Black women have also become increasingly more important in politics especially due to the amount of diverse women who are now in congress. Black women have always gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to issues like wage gap, health care, and economic prospects, which the article talks about. Edwards also mentions “democratic candidates entering the presidential race have acknowledged the importance of women, women of color, black women in their pathways to victory”. One might ask the question of why black women have become essential to victory? While black women are still oppressed there is power is numbers. Black women are creating the right channels through which they can effect some type of change in todays day and age. When reading this article I thought about the documentary we watched in class about Shirley Chisholm. She was a very strong candidate when she ran for president and spoke for the many voices that were silenced by her white opponents. This article speaks to the fact that black women are playing with identity politics and gaining political power, which is really important when it comes to speaking for voters who are in the minority. I also thought about Tiffany Gill’s Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry which we read in class. This article helps to validate beauty shop politics and how often times black beauty shops are a hub for social change. 

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Profiting From the Myths About Black Women’s Bodies

In a 2016 TIMES article, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley explores the myth of the black vagina.The article addresses the lawsuit of Jacquline Fox who sued Johnson and Johnson for not adequently advertising that its products contain talc which is known to cause cancer. The talc based product, baby powder is a product that was once aggressively advertised to black women. Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder has been a culture of self care for black women for many years. As we’ve discussed in class, black women have always gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to equality in our society and have to work three times as hard to be respected. This ties in with the latter part of the article where Tinsley states “If racism posits that blacks reek, and misogyny teaches us that vaginas are rank, how difficult does it become for black women to love the scent of our healthy vaginas?” (Tinsley, TIMES). Black women are constantly being examined and made out to be not worthy of respect. This article sheds light on the harm being done to black womens body and how company like Johnson & Johnson are enablers of a very old stereotypes of black women. This article also engages in the conversation of self care for black women and how maybe our definition of what that means is changing. 

The article can be found here.