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Ella’s Jazz and Louis’ Pizzaz! (In Honor of Black American Her/History Month) Black America’s Presence at the 2018 Intra-African Trade Fair! #IATF2018

Reflections of Restoration and Image In Black America's Balance of the Feminine and Masculine Principles At the 2018 Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo, Egypt! #IATF2018!

From the cities of Atlanta and Chicago, we were there. Having recognized each other’s presence during the lecture on Diasporic participation, the connection of cultural familiarity was instant. We recognize our people.

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Interesting enough, myself and my Brotha,’ both happened to have been wearing red on that day. Definitely a gift from the Universe-no doubt! Our physical presence was definitely significant. For we were the living image of our people’s existence. Physical and tangible evidence that Black America (in her myriad forms and cultures across the United States of America) is still here. That our culture and presence is relevant and significant on the world stage. I was the feminine representation. He was the masculine. It was the representation of balance in our culture and community. And in this state of balance, healing and restoration would take place with our people. That moving toward a state of balance, reviving our feminine, while securing our masculine, would ensure that the tides would turn for the holistic well-being of Black America. In fact, the work is happening. It’s already starting to happen. It is being done.

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Hearing the music from our culture, and identifying those legendary artists, it was refreshing to see and hear similar reflections of one’s own cultural existence. Catching up on the latest news and topics shapening our community; our experiences in our shared travels. It felt great just to catch up. Addressing topics on our role in the international scene and travel culture was proof, that Black America’s perfume, was on the African Continent. All for another discussion and topic piece. Presence of my Beau added an interesting touch of Black American and Cameroonian connections. Don’t worry! Just be patient on that one!

(Photograph By IATF2018 Staff; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)
(Photograph By IATF2018 Staff; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Nevertheless, we were there, and Black America was reflected in the festival. Looking back on the conference, seeing African personnel residing in Chicago and Washington D.C. (cities with a strong presence of Black American educational excellence and her/history), I began to think of that Indigenous presence of blackness in U.S. soiling. Thinking of those periods of the Great Migration, cotton fields, and traces of dark bodies; laboring in America’s womb. Memories of Jim Crow, Civil Rights, times of terror, and the dreams of freedom for “our grandmothers prayers and grandfathers dreams.” Those mothers, maidens, and women folk; who cooked, cleaned, taught, fixed, served, and carried us through to better times. The creation of our cultural artistry and music; that being played in that very hall, as the former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo entered into the spacing. I recall the stories of my patrilineal Grandmother from Birmingham, Alabama and matrilineal Grandmother from Mississippi. Stories of my Grandfather, Dad, and Mother, who were active in past and modern Civil Rights Movements.

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

The tears, blood, and frustrations, that were shed; propelling them forward into lovelier days ahead. Culture that was birthed through the toiling of our foremothers energies and peculiar, feminine creativity; accompanied with guided movement and thought-provoking initiatives from our forefathers. The fights of social liberties; making it possible for old and newly-migrated communities to the United States of America to benefit from the American Dream. So, when being in an international spacing (and especially, in Cairo, Egypt), having that physical representation of the feminine and masculine energy principles of Black America, on a world stage, was a wonder in it’s own right.

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Looking at the images, and seeing the visions of balance and duality, in this land, in this space, I saw the future and continuation of Black America. Truth be told, the encounter was unexpected. Having met during the Diasporic section of the conference, it was a particular moment, where mutual familiarity was recognized and understood. That journey of Black America’s musical culture, and how it continued the existence of our people. Literally, and in every step of that path. How our cultural marking in blackness, ensured that we, Blackened Garden of American soiling, will never be gone or forgotten. It was an awakening to observe, and participate, in the art of trade-using our music, culture, linguistics, and existence, as such. And so, to have vigilant representation, even in the form of attendees, was spectacular.

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Reflecting on those times, and moments of such, I recall the memories and conversations, on the significance of Black Americans to travel. Re-calling those undergraduate years at Spelman College, I find pleasure in such oratory. Pleasuring in knowing, and seeing the significance, in such. How taking one’s role as a cultural ambassador, seriously, has the power to change societal perceptions; exposing others to a people and culture, whom many only see and hear on television. When taken seriously, cultural ambassadorship is a power tool in reflecting the beauties, morals, and principles of one’s heritage.

In the United States of America, Black America has consistently been the moral voice. From our active protest against the War in Vietnam, to the Poor People’s Campaign. Domestically, the fight for equal housing; better educational systems; movements against the prison industrial complex; the move for reparations, and countless more. They have been the themes and highlights in improving America’s society for the masses. Black America has been at the heart and foundation of all major social movements in the USA. All the while, creating new music and culture, while doing it.

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

It’s why reflections of the masculine and feminine image of Black America, at the 2018 Intra-African Trade Fair, were so important. For it showed the foundation and cultural existence of the United States of America-in the living, breathing. . .flesh. People could ignore that presence. Those caught up in vanity and ego could. . .ignore that presence. Yet, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t felt. It was vigilant and warm, for those who wanted to see.

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Black America was here! And we, were there!

(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)
(Photograph By Gabriel Neko; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)
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