How to Colonize (for Kids!), as explained by this 20th century French board game:
- Hoist the French flag onto your newfound soil
- Build a hospital
- Erect a school
- Open your harbor
- Reap the benefits of rich natural resources from around the world and sail back to France with goodies in tow
This “trading game” is an example of the lasting mindset of the race to colonize. More from curator Isotta Poggi about this questionable game.
Trading Game: France—Colonies, 1941, O.P.I.M. (Office de publicite et d’impression), Breveté S.G.D.G. Lithograph on linen, 22 7/8 x 32 1/4 in. Getty Research Institute.
meditations on ancestral aesthetics of cool
Have you ever heard Zora Neale Hurston’s voice? In addition to being an exquisite novelist and anthropologist, she recorded some songs for a past government organization, the WPA. According to Florida Memory:
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) - after 1939, the Works Projects Administration - was a work-relief program created in 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration that employed over 8.5 million people before its end in 1943. One of its programs was the Federal Writers Project (FWP), which included a Folklore Section. This section conducted fieldwork, recording songs, traditions, and stories across the nation.
The song above is called “Dat Old Black Gal.” To me, the “new shoes” mentioned makes me think of a new path—a change from the pain ascribed upon Blackness. It makes me think of an old Black spiritual where the lyrics include "travelin’ shoes Lord, got on my travelin shoes." And this journey symbolized by the need for new shoes could be thought of in a physical/emotional/cultural sense (i.e. The Great Migration), in an existential sense (i.e. contemplating the meaning of the journey of life, one’s identity beyond oppression) and/or in a theistic sense (i.e. shoes for the journey on “the narrow way”; how the “next” journey in life is going to heaven). But it is a railroad work song and often work songs were about getting through the labor but thinking of a future time when that labor would no longer be a reality or again, the next great journey. I feel as if some of these early Black songs like this one are pre-cursors to Afrofuturism.
The Florida Memory site has a bunch of audio recordings of her singing. It’s so thrilling for me to connect a voice to this talented genius who had great style, wisdom, and truly respected Black humanity by crafting stories of our complexities, imperfections and beauty so well. She was so ahead of her time.
this did something to me
Lithograph on masonite, 25 1/2 x17 1/2 in.