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It is clear that the cultures of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples are incredibly significant because of how much white people fear them.

Throughout history, cultural traditions have been used to mobilize groups of Black and Brown people together against a common threat—white supremacy. People of color have survived centuries of endless white violence and, at many turns, have used the power and reverence for our many cultures as a means to fight back. It is crucial that we preserve our cultural roots as much as we can, especially in these times when white supremacy and nationalism are so blatantly on display. White supremacists and nationalists have historically used the concept of “culture wars” to demonize people of color and paint themselves as victims, usually of some form of the white genocide mythos. Racists and xenophobes yelling at people of color for not speaking English, even threatening to call ICE, is one of the many hills they choose to die on. Their fear of other cultures—languages, traditions, religions, ethnicities, ideologies—is apparent in their actions, on both small and large scales. During the build-up to the 2016 presidential election, National Review’s Reihan Salam described culture wars as the “fight over the future of American national identity in the face of rapid and accelerating demographic change.” Culture wars are, more or less, a seemingly endless contention over who can and who cannot be considered a “True American,” with white, cis straight, conservative, Christians being the ones with the most ability to lay claim to this title and, therefore, also the ones with the ability to determine who else has access to rights in America. In almost every case, these culture wars have been conservative projects, instigated and waged by people anxious about the loss of old orders and the emergence of new ones. Their anxiety finds expression first as a complaint about a particular policy, and second as a broader lament about how far the nation has fallen from its founding glory and how desperately we need to restore whatever is passing away.” Stephen Prothero, Washington Post It is clear that the cultures of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples are incredibly significant because of how much white people fear them. Therefore, we cannot forget how our ancestors have used their various cultures as weapons against white supremacy, as tools to work towards their own liberation, and as mechanisms to cope in their positions as marginalized peoples. We cannot forget how the many children of the African Diaspora have used cultural traditions to combat and subvert white supremacist violences as they waded in the devastation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Bois Caïman is where the seed that would grow into the 18th century Haitian Revolution and slave insurrection was planted. At this site, the organized resistance began to take form when a traditional Vodou ceremony was performed. Vodou is a religion and philosophy with deep cultural roots and significant meaning that was birthed in Haiti (once called Saint-Domingue) when an amalgam of religious beliefs were carried to the island with the ships harboring people stolen from Africa. During this time, Haiti was under French colonial rule. The island was rich in sugar, coffee, and indigo, which the enslaved were forced to harvest and maintain. Their revolution was a fight against the harsh labor, as well as the dehumanization and incremental genocide at the hands of the French colonists.
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Learning more about Black history is highly necessary to understanding who we are and where we are from.

DNA testing for ancestry and ethnicity is increasingly popular and a number of companies offer a careful breakdown of our lineage. Black buyers especially should prepare themselves for the truths that lie within the DNA results. This means learning a bit about Black History: the brutal truths and treatment of slavery, including the separation of families and sexual assault at the hands of the white slaveowners. This also means learning about how populations moved from the South to the North, as Black families sought to escape Jim Crow and find work opportunities. So many of the anomalies that people are sure to find in their own DNA may not be so surprising after reading the books on this list. Prepare yourself for the truths that lie in your results by reading the following recommendations.

"The Book of Negroes"

There were slaves in America during the Revolutionary War. Those slaves were offered a chance at land and freedom if they fought for the British. This book is based on a journal that cataloged the men who were deemed “loyalists” and sent to Nova Scotia to claim their land. Nothing prepared them for the harsh weather and the reality that going north didn’t mean escaping the brutalities of racism. Lawrence Hill’s novel explores this era through a female character who was brought to America as a child and lived as a slave until the war broke out. "The Book of Negroes" will give you a good look at the beginning of the slave chain, where the bodies were snatched and stowed on a boat bound for bondage.

"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass"

The famous speaker and abolitionist with the unmistakable coif was also the author of one the most famous slave narratives today. This book is one of three biographies that explore the life of the slave in the clear and honest voice of a survivor. Learn what it took for your ancestors to survive that life and preserve your family DNA. Douglass also details his escape and freedom in the tome, which is just as educational.

"Queen"

Alex Haley’s follow up to "Roots" was "Queen", the tale of a girl born of the assault by the slaveowner. The novel was a fictionalized version of a true story. Just like the girl in the book, Haley’s grandmother was born in slavery and was the daughter of the master. She is thrown out into the world and must fend for herself. The book tackles subjects like “passing” and the conundrum the biracial people often found themselves in. Ostracized for being the master's kid by black people, but too tainted with black blood to be white. Haley didn’t live to finish the book, another writer did so. However, the insight this book brings will enlighten those who open a test to find the unexpected European ancestry.

"Kindred"

Another look at the slave era in American history, Octavia Butler’s  "Kindred" is actually a time travel story that starts in the 1970s and ends up in the 1800s. Dana is somehow connected with this white kid from back then. Her first trip back in time lasts a few minutes, allowing her time to rescue the boy from danger and return home. She figures out that the boy is her white ancestor and she must keep this often racist, a spoiled child living long enough to create her line—long enough to rape her black ancestor. This book pits a modern woman against the slave atmosphere to amplify the atrocities and injustice. "Kindred" is a fictional, but eye-opening look at a time that is most vital yet most mysterious to Black people today.
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Perhaps Rihanna is a descendant of Nefertiti and this Vogue cover has some divine purpose. The truth is because of the genocide that was the slave trade, we’ll never know.

When I first saw Rihanna’s November cover for Vogue Arabia I found her eye makeup mesmerizing. It’s quite possible the makeup artist used her limited-edition Galaxy Eyeshadow palette but I won’t be able to find out until the queue for her products at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge goes down some. It’s been snaking round the building for weeks. I have been wearing intense, well blended blush on my temples since her look at this year’s Met Gala left me edgeless once again. Her Fenty beauty line is an asteroid that has given us forty shades of foundation from the jump and intergalactic glitters that will have her stans gleaming from here to Pluto throughout the holiday season. Her impact on the beauty landscape has been seismic and to call her a cultural phenomenon would be an understatement. She is shifting tectonic plates EVERYWHERE! [caption id="attachment_48396" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Rihanna on the cover of Vogue Arabia[/caption] The inspiration for the cover is Queen Nefertiti, an Egyptian Queen who heralded a religious revolution. Her image, most specifically her profile, has been worn as a pendant by Black women for decades. Growing up in the 90s, with Pan-Africanist parents, I was made aware constantly that the history being taught in our schools was mythological in parts. That enlightened humanity began with the lightly tanned Greeks was false.
Related: RIHANNA PROVES THAT INCLUSIVITY IN THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY IS NEEDED

I think of trans-generational traumas, and how they shape us, and I wonder whether the pang that I sometimes feel in my gut connects me with the agony of my foremothers.

Trigger Warning: This article contains discussions of racialized reproductive and sexual violences against Black women We have been rather preoccupied with our statues of late. As we should be. They are symbols of who and what our nation chooses to venerate and immortalize, and monuments to white supremacy have stood long enough—they should never have been erected to begin with. At the edge of Central Park, in New York City, stands a figure in honor of J. Marion Sims, an allegiant to the Confederacy who often vocalized his loyalty to the south and southern tradition, including slavery. This nineteenth century doctor is known as the “father of modern gynecology.” While the field respectfully celebrates its patriarch, it too often neglects to remember its mothers. Among them: Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey. Sims became the world’s most renowned authority on reproductive health after years of experimental operations on enslaved Black women in the backyard hospital of his Montgomery, Alabama home from 1845 to 1849. Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey were his subjects, taken on from local slavers. These young women were in horrible condition and went hoping that he would cure their ailments quickly. This began “before the time of anesthesia,” Sims notes in his autobiography. The first successful surgery performed with anesthesia occurred in 1846, but Sims never gave any to the enslaved women in his care. It is recorded that he subscribed to the belief that Black people did not have the same capacity to feel pain as white people, a belief that many people in the medical field unfortunately still hold. Physicians continually offer less pain relief and fewer management resources to their Black patients, even to children, due to this accepted myth.
Related: 7 BIPOC LED PUBLIC HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT

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