Sometimes people mispronounce your name, which can be annoying and frustrating. But as long as they make the effort to pronounce your name right once you correct them, then it’s all good, right? Unfortunately, not everyone likes to make the effort.
Earlier this year, a reporter suggested that Camila Cabello should get rid of her last name because it was too “difficult to pronounce.”
Just as ‘Orange Is The New Black’ star, Uzo Aduba, puts it: “Do not ever erase those identifiers that are held in you, whether it’s your gap, whether it’s your name, whether it’s your food. It is yours and it was given to you at birth and it is yours to own.”
If you identify as Afro-Latinx, the Fourth of July can bring up some complicated feelings, to say the least. Although the day commemorates the Founding Fathers officially declaring independence from Great Britain’s tyrannical monarch, it also is a day to celebrate American patriotism, which in some spheres has developed into a sort of blind nationalism.
It can be difficult to feel in the mood to wrap yourself in the American flag and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” when we’re constantly subjected to headlines exposing the horrors of the migrant crisis at the border, mass incarceration of black and brown people, and not to mention, the history of the US being founded through the oppression and enslavement of black and brown people.
Chris Rock put it perfectly a few years ago when he took to Twitter to speak his thoughts about the Fourth of July: “Happy white people’s Independence Day. The slaves weren’t free, but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks”. That’s the feeling that many Black Americans feel regarding the day that we’re supposed to celebrate as the birth of one of the greatest, richest, most powerful countries in the world.
For many Black Americans, the Fourth of July is simply a painful reminder of all of the injustices, past, and present, that America has inflicted on their people.
From slavery to Jim Crow laws, to lynchings, to police brutality, to mass incarceration, there seems to be so much violence inflicted on the Black community at large by the hands of American institutions of authority.
Not only does the celebration of the “independence” of America from its colonial oppressors conveniently ignore the years of slavery America subjected Black people too, but it also ignores the genocide of the indigenous populations that lived in the U.S. before European colonization. Are we to forget that the whole continent of North America was completely “independent” before white colonizers ever stepped foot onto its soil?
As Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez from Latino Rebels wrote scathingly in her piece, “The Fourth of July: A Celebration of Hatred” and you will find a lot of white smiling faces, celebrating as if America was ever theirs to begin with.” So yeah: Independence Day is a complicated holiday for people of color for more than one reason.
Before the Civil War, Independence Day was historically a holiday almost exclusively celebrated by whites.
And why shouldn’t it have been? Even for free blacks, it would’ve been hard to express devotion to a country that currently enslaved thousands of people of your same race solely based on the color of their skin. As Frederick Douglass put it eloquently in a speech addressed to a crowd of white people during a Fourth of July gathering: “I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…”
According to historians, if a black American did celebrate Independence Day before the Civil War, they would often do it on July 5th to acknowledge the different relationship they, as black people, had with the so-called “land of the free” that was both their oppressor and their home country.
But, interestingly enough, there was a major shift in feelings towards the 4th of July in the black community after the Civil War ended.
So, although the Fourth of July does not rank among the likes of Martin Luther King day for its importance in Black History, it nonetheless has a surprising history of celebration with America’s black community.
While most white Southerners felt little to no loyalty towards the United States of America after the Civil War and would “shut themselves within doors”, as one woman put it, in order to blot out the shame of their failed rebellion, black Southerners began to look to the holiday as a way to celebrate their new-found freedom. Basking in their new freedom, black Americans looked to the holiday as a way to celebrate their own independence as well as the independence of the country they lived in.
According to Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts at The Atlantic, after the Civil War ended, free blacks “gathered together to watch fireworks and listen to orators recite the Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery when it was ratified in late 1865”. Black Americans organized parades in honor of Independence Day, congregating to watch companies of black militia march down the streets.
Black southerners also created a ritual song and dance called “Too-la-loo” in which a group of men and women would form a ring, a woman would move to the center, and eventually, she would choose a suitor to join her. The game was so popular that “Too-la-loo” eventually “became shorthand for the Fourth of July” in South Carolina.
But like many burgeoning black traditions in the Antebellum South, the establishment of the Fourth of July as a black holiday was short-lived. Once Jim Crow laws took hold of the local government, the white population made it all but impossible for black people to continue their Independence Day festivities. Authorities pushed their “Too-la-loo” festivities to the outskirts of the city, and eventually, out of the city altogether. They forbid vendors from setting up shop on the streets where the festivities had been taking place. After a few years, black people no longer looked to the Fourth of July as a means to celebrate their freedom, and it became a “white holiday” once again.
These days, the Afro-Latinx population in America still wrestle with complicated feelings towards the Fourth of July.
On one hand, it can be viewed as a carefree celebration–a time to enjoy barbecues, beer, and fireworks with your friends and family and, of course, to get a day off of work. But, when some Latinx people look deeper into the holiday, it’s hard not to experience feelings of emptiness or frustration. And these feelings can be exasperated when you’re Afro-Latinx, as you have both the specter of black slavery and indigenous genocide to contend with on a day that is meant to celebrate American exceptionalism. As Patricia Montes, a Honduran immigrant living in Boston, said about the Fourth of July in an interview, “I feel very conflicted. What are we celebrating? Are we celebrating democracy?”
Throughout her life’s work, Frida Kahlo created paintings that depicted her life, culture, Mexicanidad, indigeneity, grief, and suffering. The serious subject matter of her work has long been lauded by art critics and fans of her work alike.
Here’s a look at Kahlo’s 20 most popular portraits.
1. The Two Fridas
This oil painting which was part of Kahlo’s Naïve art period depicts two versions of Kahlo sitting side by side together. One wears a white European-style Victorian dress while the other is wearing a traditional Tehuana dress. Some suggest that the two figures are a representation of Frida’s dual heritage.
2. The Broken Column
This oil painting made in 1944 was created by Kahlo shortly after she had spinal surgery to correct chronic problems from a serious traffic accident. In this painting, Frida aligns herself with the martyr Saint Sebastian who was discovered to be a Christian and tied to a tree and used as an archery target.
3. The Wounded Deer
This painting created around the end of Kahlo’s life was made when her health was on a downward spiral. In this oil painting, Kahlo combines pre-Columbian, Buddhist, and Christian symbols to express her influences and beliefs.
4. Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird
Kahlo created this self-portrait after her divorce from Diego Rivera and the end of her affair with photographer Nickolas Muray. The painting brings into coordination Frida’s identification with indigenous Mexican culture which greatly affected her painting aesthetic. Kahlo’s use of powerful iconography from her indigenous Mexican roots asserts hers sense of rebellion against colonial forces and male rule.
In this photo, the dead hummingbird around her neck represents a good luck charm. The black panther in the background is a symbol of bad luck and death and the monkey is meant to represent evil.
5. Without Hope
On the back of this painting which was created by Kahlo in 1954, Kahlo wrote “Not the least hope remains to me…Everything move in time with what the belly contains.” She created this painting after her father prescribed her to be force fed.
6. Diego and I
In this painting, Frida reveals the anguish she feels about her relationship with Diego Rivera. The portrait reveals her deep pain and hurt over his infidelity and affair with film actress Maria Felix.
7. Self-Portrait with Monkey
In Mexican mythology, monkeys are a symbol of lust. In this portrait, however, the monkeys are adoring, loving and nurturing. Kahlo’s decision to depict monkeys is consistent with her constant incorporation of them as companions. In life, Frida kept monkeys as well as many other pets in the garden of her Blue House in Mexico.
8. Self-Portrait as a Tehuana
This painting which was painted in 1940 was made after she and Diego divorced. The painting has two other names “Diego in My Thoughts” and “Thinking of Diego.” This painting reveals Frida’s consumption with Diego Rivera, who continued to have affairs with other women throughout their relationship.
Even despite his betrayals, she could not stop thinking about him and portrayed this by painting a small portrait of him on her brow which depicts her obsessive love for him.
9. Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair
Kahlo painted this self-portrait during a particularly difficult time in her life. Frida’s husband Diego Rivera had long told Frida of how much she admired her long, dark hair, which, are depicted in the tresses on the floor of the painting. After they broke up she cut off her hair. In this picture, she shows herself sitting in an oversized suit that resembles the ones that Rivera often wore.
10. What the Water Gave Me
What the Water Gave Me (Lo que el agua me dio in Spanish) the artist creates her own biography. As the scholar, Natascha Steed, points out, “her paintings were all very honest and she never portrayed herself as being more or less beautiful than she actually was.”
11. The Suicide of Dorothy Hale
Dorothy Hale is an American act and Ziegfeld showgirl who died by suicide in 1938. Kahlo was commissioned to create a portrait of the actress by a friend and to their surprise, she created a severe retelling of her ultimate death.
12. Henry Ford Hospital (The Flying Bed)
Frida depicts herself in this painting lying in a bed in Henry Ford Hospital naked and bleeding. The painting depicts the discomfort Frida felt during her time in the hospital. In the painting, six objects fly around her. There’s a male fetus which is the son of her and Diego that she lost. There is an orchid which looks like a uterus. The snail is the symbol of how slow the miscarriage and operation took.
13. The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego, and Señor Xolotl
This portrait comes folded with multiple forms of imagery. In this portrait, Frida shows “twofold face of the Universe, the light and dark background of planets and ethereal fog, is holding a murkier Earth (Mexico), whose breasts are lactating. The Earth (Mexico), with all her vegetation, is subsequently holding Frida Kahlo. Continuing further, Frida is then holding a nude Diego Rivera, whose forehead contains a third eye.
This work is rich in symbolism, with multiple layers of meaning. However, the symbols are not unlike many of Kahlo’s other works. Many art critics have contended that The Love Embrace portrays several of Frida’s life struggles, including but not limited to: womanhood, motherhood and Diego Rivera.”
14. My Grandparents, My Parents and Me
Frida Kahlo depicts her family in this portrait of a family tree. In this piece, she is a naked girl holding onto a red ribbon that represents of her bloodline.
15. A Few Small Nips (Passionately in Love)
In 1935, a year after not painting, she created A Few Small Nips, in which she portrays the torture she feels over her pain. In the painting, a bare and bloodied Frida lies on a bed in the face of a knife-wielding killer.
16. Viva la Vida, Watermelons
Eight days before her death, Frida wrote the words “Viva la Vida – Coyoacán 1954 Mexico” into her drawing of the watermelons.
17. The Wounded Table
Like many of Frida’s paintings this piece reflects strongly on her Mexicanidad, indigeneity, as well as her grief and loss. The painting is depicted much like Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last SupperMural. Kahlo is seated at the center of the table and figures that were portrayed in her painting The Four Inhabitantsof Mexico City also appear.
18. My Dress Hangs There
Frida started this painting while living in New York and finished it soon after she and Diego moved back to Mexico. On the back of the painting in chalk she wrote “I painted this in New York when Diego was painting the mural in Rockefeller Center”.
“The painting is filled with the icons of modern industrial society of United States but implied the society is decaying and the fundamental human values are destructed. In contrast to this painting, her husband Diego Rivera was working on a mural in the Rockefeller Center to prove his approval of the industrial progress in America”
19. Self-portrait in a Velvet Dress
In this self-portrait, Frida wears a wine-red velvet dress. The painting is one of the most flattering portraits of Kahlo and was created during the start of her career as an artist. In letters, she wrote, about the portrait. “You cannot imagine how marvelous it is to wait for you, serenely as in the portrait.”
20. Girl with Death Mask (She Plays Alone)
In 1938 Frida painted this portrait which depicts Frida herself at age of four as she wearsa skull mask. This mask is a tradition for “Day of the Dead” wear and where death is celebrated instead of mourned. The little is depicts Frida holding a yellow flower in her hands which Mexicans put on graves at the “Day of the Dead” festival.
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