Sunday, November 26, 2006

Black Beauty: A History and a Celebration

Black Beauty: A History and a Celebration
by Ben Arogundade
Review by a reader from Geneva,Switzerland

Black Beauty examines the often complex and elusive subject of beauty and all its tenets in regards to continental Africans and more so, Africans of the diaspora.The text is rich in history and starts with an account of Saartje Baartman-the `Hottentot venus` in 1810.

We are further treated to a close look at Black representation throughout the 20th century,with chapters such as `Black Venus` 1940`s to 60, `Black is beautiful `1960`s heralding the emergence of Black Power, civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X and the general era of celebrating `Blackness` and self determination.The final chapter `Painted Black` deals with today`s icons, especially in the field of music and cinema, are highlighted and their global contributions and impact in shaping the Black existance and experience is examined. Brothers like Spike Lee and Tupac by virtue of greater access to,and in some cases,control of the mass media are featured,amongst many others.Sisters are there too!

No study of Black beauty could be complete without reference to the impact of the African slave trade-this is elucidated fully. Equally too, are the Black queens of Egypt and Ethiopia, as is the politics of beauty the wearing of the afro and dreadlocks, the significance of skin bleaching and the continual debate of dark skin Blacks being less attractive than lighter toned Blacks or Mixed race,etc.

Black Beauty is packed full of numerous excellent photographs and images, some rare, such as queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Black wife of Englands George III. Jack Johnson, Ophella Devore, Donyale Luna Vogue`s first Black covergirl, Bob Marley, Tyson Beckford, Lil` Kim, Erykah Badu-in short, they are all there!!

Most definately not a book to be missed. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition

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