"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Post Number: 515
|Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 11:02 am: |
We often try to de-mythologize our hystorical figures.I think black historical figures are no exeption.They are human too,
right? I don't mean to make them look bad, but if their flaws were known, they won't seem so perfect and so intimidating.
In turn, their imperfection and humaness becomes more appealing in the eyes of the general public.
I want to comment on two women: Josephine baker, who has captured my interest since I saw Lynn whitfireld play her in the biopic, and Madame CJ walker, whom I have also followed as closely since making a book report in 4th grade.
I'm an admirer of Josphine Baker but I can't help but be a little honest with her failings:
Although she accomplished so much in matters of africnan beaty and entertainment, the woman was tragically colorstruck.
For example, When she was on the chitling cuircut she was married to three differnt black men during her adolesence on during her time on the chtling circuit. however by the time she gained succes in france, she married three white men.
In the book about her life written by her unofficial son Jean-claude Baker, in one excerpt in the book, she mentions that during a photo shoot she requests that the lights be positioned in a way to make her "appear white". Another excerpt involves her in the 1960's chastizing a journalist on calling her black. She says: "I am not black I am colored!".The journalist responds: "You've been away from the US too long Ms. Baker. Black is beautiful now. If feel sorry for you."
Was this behavior the result of her upbringing in St. louis? Or a result of the times in which she lived?
In the biography about Madame CJ walker and her decendants, It is mentioned that A'lelia used her adopted daughter
Mae, who was half N.American, to pose as a hair model to advertise her family's products. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but I felt this was a bit deceitful on A'lelia's part. How could she decieve women by implying that her product could make their pure african hair look like Mae's mixed-blood hair? How was this progressive for black women? How many women drove themselves mad trying to achieve "good hair" as the product promised? What A'lelia did I still see companies do to this day. Was A'lelia the first? Was she also subconciously enacting the result of the times in which she lived?
Do I admire these women any less?
No I do not.
They layed down the first few layers to what eventullay became the ziggurat black women continue to add on to today.