Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?

Ebony February 1966, Vol. 21 Issue 4, p25

The article focuses on the improvements in the beauty, health and personality of African American women. According to a survey, the African American women are considered to have improved in their charm and beauty. The medical specialists think that better nutrition and the grooming knowledge have contributed to the improvement in their beauty. Edward W. Beasley, a pediatrician, states that dancing is good for the development of limbs and is thus advisable for women. Abstract from Ebsco.

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“Experts say better nutrition, grooming, know-how have brought improvement.” Gone, “…are the spindly legs, sagging bosoms, unruly rumps and ungroomed heads that marred many a potential lovely of yesteryear.  Such common flaws have been displaced by a feminine refinement, both facial and physical, that has elevated today’s young lady of hue to a place of prominence among the most pulchritudinous.”

In the April 1966 issue of the magazine, Ebony shared several letters to the editor in reaction to “Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?” article.  Some of the letters Ebony published, to Ebony’s credit, were quite scathing (Click the image of the letters below to view a larger version).

ebony-letters-to-the-editor

Judging Ebony’s 49 year old cover article, from a 2015 perspective, would be unfair. However, given the reaction of some of the readers, during the period, it is clear issues of beauty are no less controversial then as they are today.

What is most remarkable is that these issues persists to this day and continue to be exacerbated by Black media.

ebony-covers

Even through natural hairstyles are becoming increasingly popular among Black women, rarely do these sisters grace the cover of magazines.

At least the days of cover stories like this have past, but we still have a long way to go.  One of the Ebony magazine readers, in 1966, put it best, “…you should view the ‘sisters’ through your own eyes and not through the eyes of a ‘Chuck’ and his standards.”

Of course no AALBC.com blog post would be complete without a book recommendation. Vintage Black Glamour (Rocket 88 Books, February 18, 2015) is an gorgeous archive of glamor photographs covering a 100 year period with diverse images of Black beauty.   This volume will demonstrate, for those who had any doubt; Black women were ALWAYS beautiful.

vintage-black-glamor

Vintage Black Glamour Includes over 150 stunning black and white and color photographs — including many rare and unseen archive images.

Using rarely accessed photographic archives and private collections, inspired by her family history, Nichelle Gainer has unearthed a revealing treasure trove of historic photographs of famous actors, dancers, writers and entertainers who worked in the 20th-century entertainment business, but who rarely appeared in the same publications as their white counterparts.

Alongside the familiar images and stories of renowned performers such as Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne and Aretha Franklin are photos of literary legends such as Lorraine Hansberry and Maya Angelou as well as images of less well-remembered figures such as Bricktop, Pearl Primus, Diana Sands. Vintage Black Glamour is a unique, sumptuous and revealing celebration of the lives and indomitable spirit of Black women of a previous era.

lorraineandmaya

Although talented, successful and ground-breaking, many of the women in these
pages were ignored by mainstream media, but their life’s work and attitude stand as
inspiration for us still, today. With its stunning photographs and insightful
biographies, this book is a hugely important addition to Black history archives.

vintage-black-glamore-still vintage-black-glamor-still-3

 

Posted in African-American, books, Culture, Female, Magazines, Photo | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Spike’s New Film is Bad, Kickstarter Funding is Worse

AALBC.com’s movie critic, Kam Williams, is my friend.  He is one of the most easy going guys I know.  He has reviewed thousands of films over the course of his career, and has been writing for AALBC.com for over a decade.  His film reviews are rarely harshly critical. Indeed, he usually finds something good to say about most films, and is more than fair when critiquing Black independent films.

However, Kam’s review of Spike Lee’s latest film, Da Blood of Jesus, was the most scathing review that I can recall him ever writing.  The review was so unfavorable, were it not for my years of experience with Kam, I may not have published it.

…a boring vampire adventure that’s severely lacking in terms of tension, thrills, premise, storyline, special f/x, plausibility, production value, editing and character development… 

What makes this film’s effort doubly disappointing is that nearly $1.5 million dollars was raised, via Kickstarter, to fund this film.   When I originally learned about Spike using Kickstarter, to fund the production of this film, I did not like the idea. Someone with Spike’s resources shouldn’t use Kickstarter; his campaign would draw attention and potential funding away from smaller indie filmmakers, who could benefit more from the crowdfunding platform, without the competition from a wealthy celebrity.

Kickstarter, who made a lot of money from Spike’s massive campaign, explained how Spike’s campaign actually helps other filmmakers, “Spike Lee brought three decades of fans to Kickstarter when he launched his project.”  Kickstarter implied, but was careful not to state, that Spike’s backers would also back other filmmakers.  Kickstarter has all the data, to tell what actually happened.  They could very easily run a report to tell us how many people, that were new Kickstarter, whose first contribution was to Spike’s movie project, and who subsequently went on to contribute to small indie film project.  I suspect these figures were not reported as it would not support the narrative Kickstarter has created.

kickstarterBut is the real kicker; if this film makes any money, all the profits goes directly to Spike.  If the film loses money, which this one very likely will, all of the risk goes to the contributors.  Meanwhile, Kickstarter receives 5%, off the top, no matter what happens!

The entire risk reward model has been turned completely on its head.

I appreciate there are people who are completely satisfied contributing $5,000 to this project, in return for a signed poster.  But they deserved more—at the very least a decent movie.  The best hustle in the world is the one in which the mark is completely unaware they have been scammed.

The web’s most successful websites, rather than liberating the masses, is really just making it easier for the rich to get richer.  The real trick, however, is that this is happening right before our eyes, and many of us of think we are benefiting from the situation.

 

Posted in 2015, books, Movie Reviews, Troy's Rants | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Top 40 Books Read by African Americans

Power List Best-Selling Books • Winter 2015
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NAACP Image Award Literary Nominees Well Represented on Winter Edition of the Power List of Best-Selling African-American Books 

January 28, 2015
New York, NY

Contact: 
Troy Johnson:  troy@aalbc.com
Gwen Richardson:  grichardson@cushcity.com

Nine of the books nominated for 2015 NAACP Image Awards, for outstanding literary work, were represented among the best-sellers on the Winter 2015 edition of the Power List of best-selling books written or read by African Americans. These titles, all of which were released in 2014, experienced strong sales both prior to and after their nominations were announced in December.

Image Award-nominated books and their respective rankings on the Winter 2015 Power List are as follows:

Book Title and Author Power List Ranking
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay #2 in paperback non-fiction
10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by J. J. Smith #3 in paperback non-fiction
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay #4 in paperback fiction
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson #3 in hardcover non-fiction
Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry #9 in hardcover non-fiction
A Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey #5 in hardcover fiction
The Prodigal Son by Kimberla Lawson Roby #6 in hardcover fiction
Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith #7 in hardcover fiction
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile #10 in hardcover fiction

The NAACP Image Awards ceremony will take place on Friday, Feb. 6 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif. It will be broadcast live on TV One at 8 p.m. EST.

The Power List is compiled by collecting data from online book sellers, random samples on relevant Facebook pages, and a quarterly survey of 1,200 African-American book clubs. The lists (Paperback Fiction, Hardcover Fiction, Paperback Non-Fiction, and Hardcover Non-Fiction) are released on the fourth Monday of the month following each calendar quarter, and is a joint project of AALBC.com and Cushcity.com.

The Winter 2015 lists may be viewed at the Power List web site:  www.powerlist.info.  Updates are included on the Power List Facebook and Twitter pages.  For more information, contact either of the individuals listed above.

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Posted in 2015, AALBC.com News, Bestsellers, books, Power List | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment