Hi everyone! Today on the blog I wanted to share a little bit more about my Black History Month IGTV series as well as the transcripts for my videos. As a Black blogger, I feel responsible for bringing more awareness to issues directly affecting Black Americans and also speak up about issues relating to mental health, body positivity, and so much more!
To be more accessible, I have added closed captions to my videos and thought it would also be a good idea to add a blog post with transcripts from all my videos! I will break them down into sections, add my source(s) at the bottom, as well as leave a link to my IGTV videos in case you find this post from another source. I hope you guys are as excited about this as I am!
Video 1 – Climate Change and the Black Community
Hey guys, my name is Amanda Johnson! If you don’t know me already, I’m the blogger behind Sequins & Sales. It’s really pivotal to me to speak up about issues that affect the Black community, and a bunch of other issues that I’m really passionate about. For Black History Month, I wanted to do this series and share all of these things that really impacted American history, and black history in general, that you probably don’t hear about that much.
Today we’re going to get started with climate change and how it affects the black community. Let’s jump right in! I wanted to start with talking about how it has come to be that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by climate change.
More than half of Black Americans live in the South, which is also really prone to severe weather and floods. That’s the first thing that starts this discussion and why it’s a bigger issue than it would be for non-POC (people of color). There are so many Black communities that are adjacent to power plants, petrochemical plants, factories, and other sources of pollution.
This directly affects African-Americans and other people of color. Unfortunately, recent hurricanes other environmental factors from climate change have shown that these facilities are ill-equipped to handle flooding from stronger storms. This often leads to air and water pollution being released in these areas and directly affecting the health of the people around them.
How did black Americans end up in these areas? Well, historic segregation has resulted in African-Americans living in less desirable, low lying, and flood prone areas in many cities throughout the U.S. A natural disaster that can prove this was hurricane Katrina in 2005 when many of New Orleans’ Black Americans were forced to leave their homes.
This, and the fact that almost one third of Black Americans that had to leave their homes never returned. The thing that’s even worse is that more than half of the people that perished during this hurricane were African-American.
A recent study has shown that Black Americans breathe in 56% more particulate matter than they actually produce from their consumption. That’s anything from secondhand smoke, to cars, and pollution that happens in cities. Basically they’re breathing in more than DOUBLE what they produce.
Something else that affects African-American communities in America is climate induced heat waves. Climate change is already increasing the frequency of heat waves, and we’re seeing higher temperatures than we have previously. The greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise, but they’re disproportionately affecting the African-American communities in America.
African-American populations are experiencing 2-3 more days per year of higher temps than counties with smaller African-American communities. This is projected to increase to about 20 more extreme heat days per year within the next century (by 3000). This is really troubling because a study in California found that during these heat waves, African-Americans are twice as likely to die compared to other groups.
I feel as if when people talk about climate change, they either don’t believe that it’s true, or they don’t really see what the need is. They think, “Oh it’s not going to affect me, so why should I care?” That said, when you’re talking about climate change, it is a Black issue. It is an issue that directly affects lower income people of color in America.
If you’re trying to act like it doesn’t matter because it won’t affect you, it’s affecting millions of Americans every single year. This is something that really struck me as important to talk about! That’s why I wanted this to be my first video of the month. If you have any additional questions, I’m going to link all of my sources down below!
In summary, climate change is really important and it’s directly affecting Black Americans. It’s why it’s something that you should really care about. I’m not saying you need to throw away all your straws or stop buying straws, but it’s a bigger issue that we need to start bringing up to our politicians because it’s really affecting people in America.
Source(s): Environmental Defense Fund
IGTV Link: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CKwkvz_g2Ny/
Video 2 – The “Real” Central Park, Seneca Village
Today I wanted to talk about The “Real” Central Park, which is actually Seneca Village. What was Seneca Village? Seneca Village was one of the first communities of free black American property owners and immigrants in pre-civil war, New York. The village existed between 1825 and 1857!
The boundaries of Seneca Village were roughly between 82nd street and 89th street, and then between 7th and 8th Avenue. It was about 80 blocks of New YorkCity and pretty massive! By 1855, the village consisted of approximately 225 residents, which was made up of roughly two thirds black Americans.
There were also about one-third Irish immigrants and then a few German immigrants as well. It was one of the few places in America where Black Americans were allowed to live away from more built up sections of downtown Manhattan and cities. This meant that there were better living conditions and better air conditions.
It was also just a lot safer for them to live here in general. Why was this important? If you don’t remember, the only way that you could vote and have any power in this country was if you owned land. For a lot of Black Americans, that was kind of impossible because they came from slavery or indentured servitude.
This meant that they were unable to obtain land and were already steps and steps behind White Americans at this point in time. In 1821, New York actually required black American men to own at least $250 in property and had to hold residency for at least three years to be able to vote. If you think about it, that’s a lot of money in today’s terms.
Of the 100 Black New Yorkers eligible to vote in 1845, 10 of them lived in Seneca Village, which was not that big! That made this even more impressive. What happened to Seneca village? Why isn’t it here now? Well, the city was able to procure land back from the people. They wanted to make a park to counter the unhealthy urban living conditions and then also make space for recreation.
In 1853, the New York state legislature enacted a law that set aside 775 acres of land in Manhattan from 59th to 106th and created the country’s first major landscaped public park. This also meant that all the people from Seneca Village were virtually forced to move out and weren’t compensated accordingly. They were paid, but the land was undervalued. They didn’t come close to how much they should have been paid for their land.
It also brought into discussion that these people lost the right to vote now. Some of the first Black Americans who actually had the right to vote, then had their land taken back by the city and they lost the right to vote again. It’s messed up what they did and these people probably felt the harsh aftereffects of this. All of the residents had to leave by 1857 and that’s when the city took over and started building Central Park.
The thing that I was really excited about when it came to Seneca Village was the fact that this was one of the first times that Black and White Americans were able to live in some kind of harmony. It was shown that it was basically a small little community where everyone got along. Some of the first interracial marriages that happened in America occurred in Seneca Village!
Obviously some marriages probably happened before this, but people were able to just go outside and be in interracial relationships in Seneca Village without fearing for their safety. I always thought that this was so interesting and it makes me so sad that it was basically taken back to become a park. Central Park is awesome, but it really sucks that Seneca Village just disappeared, because it was kind of the first of its own diverse America.
Well that was the second part of this series on Black History! I hope you guys enjoyed learning a little bit more about our history and if you have any additional questions, I’m going to link the sources below. I will also be sure to respond to your questions or comments and provide additional sources if that’s what you need.
IGTV Link: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CK10fd4A2KL/
Video 3 – The Green Book
This one I’m really excited about because it’s something that I hadn’t heard about until a few years ago. I know a lot of other people probably haven’t heard about it either. It’s called The Green Book. The Green Book was basically a manifesto for hotels, guest houses, service stations, drug stores, taverns, barbershops restaurants, and so many other businesses that were open to BlPOC during the Jim Crow era.
It was written by Victor Hugo Green in 1936 and that’s when it was first published. He was actually a Harlem based postal carrier so he had all the inside deets and knew virtually everything that was going on in the city. The book started out in New York City, but then spread further into the country.
The Green Book helped Black Americans while traveling in so many different ways. The biggest benefit was that it let them know where “sundown towns” were. For those of you that don’t know, “sundown towns” are basically towns where Black people would get beat or killed or kidnapped or stalked after the sun went down. They weren’t allowed to be there after hours.
One of the sources that I was reading through actually had a testimony. Paula Winter, was a Manhattan based artist and she took a road trip with her family when she was a young girl in the 1950s. In North Carolina, her family actually had to hide behind their Buick after a local sheriff officer passed them and made a U-turn.
He then started chasing them. Her father had to switch off his headlights to hide. They parked under a tree and they had to literally sit there until the sun came up because they saw him passing back and forth. Black people weren’t allowed in that town after dark, which, I can’t even imagine going through that.
It was actually really helpful to have The Green Book in Southern States because you didn’t know which states or cities were segregationist and anti-integration. It was kind of pivotal for Black Americans to have, if they were going anywhere in the country. Eventually there was actually a sponsorship deal with standard oil!
The Green Book became available to purchase at Esso, which is now Exxon at gas stations across the country. It was largely unknown to white people like White Americans, but it eventually sold over 15,000 copies per year. It was widely used by Black business travelers, especially, as well as vacationers too.
A few things that I came across while researching were really sad. I kind of noticed my own family members doing these things when we went on trips too. There were certain things that Black Americans had to do to make traveling safer for them. They’d pack various meals and coolers so that they didn’t have to stop along the way.
They’d only use gas stations in view of the highway or right off of an exit just to have more people aware that they were there. This was in case anything ended up happening to them. They also wouldn’t use bills over $20 because the cashiers at the gas stations and people at the pumps would not give them change.
They would try to either use exact change or to pay with smaller dollar bills. That way when their money wasn’t given back to them, it wouldn’t hurt them as badly. They would also use the restroom on the side of the highways to avoid having to exit into unsafe towns.
Reading through these things. I was just like, I can’t believe the things that they went through just to travel in America. Even 40 years ago, I couldn’t just go to a gas station, you know? I would have had to be really careful about where I went. As I said above, some of these things I noticed in my own family. My dad would always bring coolers with water and food when we went on road trips.
We’d also never go farther than like a mile off the highway to get gas. These things were like ingrained in Black Americans minds when they traveled for so many decades. The Green Book is a really interesting concept and they stopped publishing it about two or three decades after it first was published due to the civil rights act being passed.
There’s still some towns that a lot of Black Americans are scared to go into at night because they’re still really, really racist. When you’re thinking about traveling, and if you’re going on a vacation, just remember that this is how black people had to travel up until a few decades ago. They were scared of being killed, or going to jail, or something worse happening.
IGTV Link: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CLIeSP7gFK9/
Video 4 – Sarah (Saartjie) Baartman
We are back with part four of my Black History Month series. Today, we are going to be talking about Sarah Baartman or pronounced in the correct way Saartjie Baartman. I still probably butchered that, but I felt like it was important to say her actual African name.
In this video, I felt like it was important to talk about Black beauty standards and kind of how they have shaped the overall beauty standards of the 21st century. One really pivotal person in history regarding body type and body shape was Sarah Baartman. She was known as the “Hottentot Venus” and was paraded around in freak shows in London and Paris with crowds invited to look at her large buttocks.
Allegedly in 1810, although illiterate at the time, she signed a contract with English ship surgeon, William Dunlop, and a mixed race entrepreneur, Hendrick Caesars, in whose household she worked. She would basically travel to England with them and take part in the shows. A reason she was called Sarah was because she had a health condition called steatopygia, which basically just means an enlarged buttocks.
This just happens due to a buildup of fat. Let’s remember, at that time, it was highly fashionable and desirable for women to have large bottoms. A lot of people envied what she had naturally (sound familiar) without having to accentuate her figure.
The British empire had abolished the slave trade in 1807, but not slavery. Campaigners were appalled at Baartman’s treatment in London. Her employers were prosecuted for holding Baartman against her will. The sad part was that she didn’t really think she was being held against her will because she was making money and had an okay life versus slavery.
That said, it was still pretty sad because she didn’t really understand that this wasn’t normal treatment. How does this relate to modern beauty standards? I’m sure you’ll probably all remember in 2014 when Kim Kardashian was on the cover of Paper magazine where she was balancing a champagne glass on her butt. Some critics complained that the image was reminiscent of contemporary drawings of Baartman.
Basically the Kardashian photo referenced a 1976 image by the same photographer. It showed a black model, Carolina Beaumont, naked and in a similar pose. They were just alluding to the fact that Kim Kardashian, and the Kardashians in general, have stolen black beauty standards and made them their own through plastic surgery.
It’s kind of obvious, but they’re not the only offenders. Black beauty standards have become the norm, at least in the 2010s and 2020s. For example, lip fillers and wide hips with no waist. It’s these are the kind of beauty standards that black women have had for centuries and people are now trying to get through various means.
It brings into question if this is okay or not. Now, whether the photo actually was based on Sarah Baartman’s images, we don’t really know. We’ll never really know, but it also calls into question the fact that Black beauty standards are the beauty industry at the moment. People are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to have their bodies look like black women.
Yet black women are still not getting the praise that hat they’re supposed to get, and they’re also still the ones not getting put in magazines, beauty campaigns, et cetera. I really thought it was important to bring this up. Obviously, as someone who is lighter skinned and that doesn’t have as kinky hair, I don’t experience the same prejudice or hate that women who are darker skinned with kinkier hair get.
But it still shows that people really want to get that Black beauty standard without acknowledging it is such.