The adage goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the persistence of negative images of Black Americans tells quite a story. 'Coon' and 'sambo' caricatures are immortalized in cartoons, slave imagery is on our grocery shelves (Aunt Jemima, anyone?) and 'mammy' figurines are still sold in the French Quarter alongside Tabasco jars.
Tumblr, with its immediacy and reach, can help to undermine and overthrow those negative images with ones that celebrate the beauty and complexity of Black women, Some amazing bloggers are using the platform as such, and here are my five favorites by and for Black women.
I can’t stop gushing over the brilliance of this phrase! Black Girls are from the Future is a multi-layered labor of love from Renina Jarmon, a blogger, essayist and doctoral student. It is a Twitter hashtag, book of essays, merchandise line and much more. One of the facets of the Black Girls are from the Future movement is a Tumblr that offers a wealth of positive imagery of Black women. Famous and unfamous, lettered and unlettered Black women are offered equal love on the blog. There are photos of Josephine Baker and of Brianna McCarthy’s art work alongside simple imagery of a Black girl standing confidently in a ballet studio. Black Girls are from the Future combats the exclusion of dimensional images of Black women by simply sharing such a plethora of different images.
All Black women are beautiful. Our multitude of hues, hairstyles and forms of self-expression give Black women a collective air that can never be duplicated. Yet, colorism — or the oppression of darker-complexioned people of color — is real and rampant in communities of color. Fuck Yeah Dark Girls is a Tumblr that combats superficial assumptions about brown and chocolate-skinned women by sharing stunning images. Azealia Banks, Janelle Monae and Kelly Rowland are featured alongside models traipsing down catwalks and ordinary women posing in Michigan State sweatshirts.
The “Black is Beautiful” message is being shared on t-shirts, billboards and magazines, but this often comes with a “but…” attached to it. Women of size are often excluded from this convo because wide waists are supposed to be unattractive. The Big Beautiful Black Girls Tumblr combats size stigmas by sharing photos of curvy ladies in gorgeous clothing. The ladies featured on the blog are donning fashion trends like polka dots and mixed prints, and highlighting their confidence as well. It’s a refreshing shift from the usual imagery associated with Black women of size, like the mammy and Aunt Jemima.
4. Le Coil
Kinks, curls, locs, twist-outs and an array of other natural ‘dos have found a home on Le Coil, a Tumblr created by designer Jamala John. John recognizes that a Black woman’s hair is political, personal and full of personality, so Le Coil is a space to recognize and celebrate the arsenal of natural hair styles Black women opt to choose from. Le Coil is an also an impromptu hair archive for natural women seeking a different style — like me.
5. Bauce Files
Bauce Magazine is an emerging digital publication for Millennial women of color. It features fresh, funky and original content that captures various aspects of the hectic lives of 20-something Black women. But Bauce Magazine also offers spectacular images on Tumblr. Bauce Files features a diverse array of women from Beyonce (!!!) to Franchesca Ramsey serving Black woman originality. Who doesn’t love that?
Image: Black Girls Are From the Future/Facebook