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NMAAHC: Designed for Greatness

I have been to the National Museum of African American History and Culture twice now. I spent hours there each visit and I still haven’t gotten through the whole museum it seemed never ending. Just like African American culture….its never ending. The way the museum is set up for the viewers is to start on the bottom floor in the basement and work ones way all the way up to the top floor; being that there exhibits on every floor. Starting out theres an elevator that leads you the basement, the starting point of the museum. It was dark. It was so dark and quiet; it was eerie. The quietness….the silence was so telling; and ironically, it was in the part of the museum that no one likes to talk about,many people don’t like to acknowledge America’s treatment towards African American in the past and present. This was the ugly side, and the silence was deafening. It was so quiet on the basement level of the museum one could hear a pin drop. The walls were black and there was very little low lighting just enough to see the displays and enough to see in front of  and around one self. The basement floor of the museum broke my heart. Throughout parts of the exhibit you can hear voice recordings of different slave narratives of when slaves were being beaten and drug onto the slave ships from their home countries. I tried so hard to fight back tears walking through the exhibit so I could still enjoy the museum; the crazy part is, I knew a lot about this history and it still hurt me so deeply as if I was learning it for the first time.The thing I did appreciate most about this floor was that they did not start the exhibit with slavery because our history did not start with slavery; we’re more than slavery and the museum displayed that this is not and was not the being of my people. It started with maps and images  of the islands and the continent of Africa and regions of Latin America. Slavery definitely  wasn’t the end of our story and nor was it the beginning.

Original slave block where slaves stood during auctions

As we made our way up to the middle and upper floors we saw the successes and accomplishments by so many black Americans that contribute to our daily lives. So many black Americans are responsible for the technology, culture, styles, trends, products and structures that we know today. Even though I felt sorry and pain at times asking though the exhibit to whole time I can say that I felt pride, I am so proud of my people and I am so proud of my ancestors. I think its important for people to know that black people are strong, anyone living in America back then and today that is black, is incredibly strong.

Nat Turner’s Bible

More importantly, I want other people to know that along with our resilience we are a kind, loving, talented, intelligent, creative, daring, progressive, determined, and IMPORTANT. I think about the museum and I think about what were it to be like if nothing in that museum existed, if  everything in that museum vanished from American history.    America would have absolutely nothing. Nothing, zilch, nada. America would have absolutely nothing. This was highlighted in a major way on the top floor of the museum, all of the accomplishments, success and groundbreaking moments for African Americans in politics, pop culture, in the nation, filled top floor. I had such an overwhelming feeling of pride. At one point on the floor you end up in the center and the exhibit it literally surrounding you, see it here. This nation was built on the backs of black people, from our blood, sweat and tears, our sorrows and our joys.

Tupac Shakur’s Journal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of design its only appropriate that we start from the basement work our way up ascending to the top floor; pointed directly towards the sky that houses Heaven, overseen by the God that made us, protects us, loves us and provides for us. The design of this entire museum, parallels the journey of black people in America. We’re ascending and continuously getting better, growing, achieving, succeeding and progressing in a nation that put us at the bottom, below ground level and expected us to stay there. I think Maya Angelou said it best, “You may write me down in history. With your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”  The people that kidnapped us and forced us here tried to bury us, time after time; but what they didn’t realize was that they were burying a seed. We’re still rising.

Queen Bey

I’ve always  been a little puzzled and confused about the world’s insane obsession with Beyoncé. Not to be misunderstood, Im always proud to see any black woman flourishing and just doing the damn thing, but an obsession? Really? There are people that want to be this woman. She can be 2 hours late to her own concert and people will still wait for her then cry, cheer, and  scream for hours at her show. People will spend 4 months worth of rent to even get a seat close to the stage she’s performing on. Some people treat her like a God and wear t-shirts that say “Beyoncé is my Religion”. So of course you can imagine that when she posted this picture on her Instagram account February 1st nearly broke the internet. This picture was posted, announcing that she is pregnant with twins, being a twin myself I think this is pretty cool. The photo got over 10 million likes on Instagram already, which to be honest, is a tiny fraction of her 94.1 million followers in total! The photo is soft  and aesthetically  pleasing. In typical maternity shoots, the partner is also featured in the photo but this is just the “Queen Bey” herself; Its a classic floral background with a contemporary “hippie” like vibe with the mix match bright colors. The vail adds a tone of regality over the entire photo, playing to her nickname “Queen Bey”. Of course a pregnancy is  a big deal and reason for celebration but I’m convinced that this Beyoncé could do just about anything, take a photo and the world would go bonkers. Her star power is out of this world, but like the 94 million other people, I want to wish her a congratulations on her expected blessings!

Sweet Sexy Savage

 

On January 27th 2017 Kehlani dropped her debut album, Sweet Sexy Savage. This album is phenomenal. In this album is every woman and the cover art illustrates this perfectly, Kehlani is a 21 year old, queer, woman of color and above it the words “Sweet Sexy Savage” appear. Her body covered in tattoos give her an edge that people are often curious about and dont know how to really describe, her openness about being a queer woman that is black, white, spanish and Native American leaves her to be racially and sexually androgynous. I think in every woman there are theses three parts, the sweet, the sexy, and the savage and through the 18 tracks and ambiguous appearance leads people like the media to make assumptions about her personality; in songs like “Thank You” and “Keep On” and “Hold Me By the Heart” she completely shatters these assumptions by pouring her heart out over the lyrics in these songs, in this I see the Sweet. Another portion of the album has songs that highlight her sexual prowess and attraction, the is not only carried out with the utmost confidence but also a feeling of empowerment, this is where I see the Sexy. Lastly, Kehlani’s personal battle with depression, suicidal tendencies and dealing with broken-heartedness is something that I as well as many others can relate to and aspects of this album allows me to revisit this pain and feeling of brokenness through lyrics that are strong, healing,  and delivered with conviction. For example in her song “Personal” she says, “I fuck with me heavy, Im all chosed up, so dont take it personal” or when she says, “if I gotta be a bitch imma be a bad one”,  in this part of the album I see the Savage. This album cover alone celebrates the multidimensionality of every woman. To me, what I get from this album is the following: We as women are not this, we are not that, we are EVERYTHING.

Marvel’s Luke Cage

Marvel’s newest superhero has already been turned into a number one hit show on Netflix, many are tired of all the basic superhero action and crime fighting movies but this was is like absolutely nothing seen before. Luke Cage is a middle-age tall dark-skinned black man that plays an ex-police officer that wrongfully went to jail after being framed. The gag is that he doesn’t wear a cap, he doesn’t wear a special suit, Luke’s superhero outfit is a hoodie; and it gets better….he’s bulletproof. The show is entertaining and the series was great but the social commentary was incredible, the show is about a bulletproof black man that walks around in a hoodie trying to bring good to New York City and he is completely bulletproof. The timing is almost too perfect amidst the myriad of shootings of unarmed black men. The hoodie is more than an article of clothing, it is a symbol. When I see black men in hoodies I can’t help but think of Trayvon. Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was gunned down and murdered in cold blood. This show puts a black man on a pedestal where he is literally invincible and completely unstoppable and he adorns the very two things that in reality seems like a target: a black body and a hoodie. I just wish 14 year old Tamir Rice was bulletproof, along with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Jamal Brown, Oscar Grant and Philando Castile. I wish Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and so many more that were murdered, had superhuman strength that made them impenetrable to any bullet, choke-hold, or baton-beating that came their way. It almost seems like to be a black man in America he to be Luke Cage in order to survive, black men have to be superheros, black men have to be bulletproof, otherwise he can’t be sure he won’t be the next trending hashtag or his dead black body won’t be the subject of a video on the 6 o’clock nightly news. Luke Cage is a quick escape from a painful reality that allows young black boys and girls to dream again, even if its just for a moment they can feel like they’re safe and even unstoppable.