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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.
Related: 8 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ROSA PARKS

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

To educate yourself about the contemporary iterations of white supremacist groups in the United States, below is a cheat sheet of some basics about the terms “white supremacy,” “white nationalism,” and “neo-nazism.”

White supremacy is the belief that (Christian) people descended from Europe are inherently superior to the rest of the world’s people and are thus uniquely fit to rule over them. The ideology has existed at least as far back as the 15th century, though traces of it can be found in earlier texts as well.

Although European belief in the “civilizing mission” of Christianity was the ideology that underpinned the global systems of slavery and colonialism that spanned the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, white supremacy as an ideology took on a different register beginning in the late 19th century with the advent of something called scientific racism.

Scientific racism used “science” (which has now been debunked as pseudoscience) to provide “physical evidence” for the superiority of the white race. Scientific racism capitalized on the emerging findings of evolutionary theory to posit the existence of a hierarchy among different human races, with the “lower races” (Indigenous, African, and Asian people) being less evolved/developed (i.e. closer in kind to the animal kingdom and therefore less “human”), and white Europeans being the most highly evolved/developed/most “human” race. They used pseudoscientific methods like phrenology—the belief that the physical shape and size of someone’s skull had a direct correlation with their intelligence—to reinforce claims about the superiority of the white race.

Related: ANTI-FASCISM: A COMPREHENSIVE USER’S GUIDE

This Labor Day all activists, organizers, advocates, and progressives need to remain cognizant of the plight of the incarcerated, whose labor often is left out of the discourse.

By Devyn Springer While Labor Day has become synonymous with simply being known as the long weekend filled with barbecues, cheap cocktails, and laughs with friends, it is historically much more than that; it is meant to be a celebration of the radical trade unionists and organizers of the early Labor Movement which is responsible for many of our worker’s rights today. Moreover, it should be a celebration of the worker, the contributions to the world the laborers make, and a transgression against current abuses and exploitations workers face. This year massive protests and demonstrations across the country have taken place to demand high minimum wages, particularly the #FightFor15 organizations call for a $15 minimum wage. In other parts of the country immigrants folks are also marching for the rights of immigrant workers, especially in relation to the recent news that Trump has declared war on DACA recipients. While these causes are important, noble, and timely, there is a population of workers whose plight and labor is overlooked each year: the incarcerated. In our conceptualization of “labor,” “laborers,” and “workers,” we often naturally overlook the labor of incarcerated people, which is not a coincidence. Not just their labor, but their conditions and lives as well are often overlooked in most public discourse, as the prison system is this way by design. In most states, the geography of prisons alone is enough to create this erasure; state and federal prison facilities are often places on the outskirts of towns, hour-long drives away from cities. Incarcerated populations are, often quite literally, out of sight and out of mind to the general public, thus the plight of their struggles and their labor is naturally disregarded.
Related: A Primer on the Prison Industrial Complex in America

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