Recently, I did a photoshoot with an AMAZING photographer named Sirena. She's the owner of Aneris Photography here in Charleston, and something amazingly spiritual happened for me in the middle of our shoot.
We ended up passing by what's commonly known as Old Slave Mart of Downtown Charleston. I can be very emotional when I'm so close to places where I feel like the impressions of the ancestors run deep, and I recall breaking down after visiting the marker of a former slave port last year. Sirena wanted to get some pics there because let's be real: how powerful of a moment is it to take photos of a black woman in a gown representing her culture in front of a place symbolizing the history of oppression of her heritage? Don't play.
Then, we both spotted a single Palmetto Rose on the ground (I provided a link to a brief blurb for you on the history of it so you can catch up in your free time, but definitely feel free to get lost in the research of sweetgrass basket weaving. I won't judge!). She told me to pick it up and stand in the archway of the market so she could get some shots. I was HYPER AWARE of the people around us (mostly white) slowing down to stare, and one man in particular who was across the street eating in a restaurant couldn't take his eyes off of me. A few white ladies walked by and were extremely vocal about how amazing I looked, but I don't think they really understood the significance.
But a black woman rode past, SLOWED DOWN HER CAR, and yelled:
"Yasss, SIS! You better wear that dress in front the slave market, honey. You are GORGEOUS for the culture."
This pic is of me interacting with that woman.
I come from a people who have been through so much. And yet, we always find was to continue to elevate ourselves. Me standing in the midst of where my people were sold like cattle, wearing not only that dress but my MELANIN? Holding on to a piece of our culture (that ROSE)? This picture makes me realize that even on my weakest days I am forged in strength, and my sole purpose in my turn at life is to not let those who came before me down. That's why I'll NEVER apologize for how Black I am.
Why are you proud of your own specific cultural background? I'd love to know!