Cypress Fine Art Photographer | Goddesses of The African Diaspora
February is Black History Month, a celebration created to raise awareness about the history of the African diaspora and African American peoples’ contributions to civilization. The celebration takes place during the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
My sister told me of a discussion she recently had about African heritage across the Americas, and the outright lack of acknowledgment of African ancestry in countries like my place of birth, Mexico. In Mexico, our African ancestry has been entirely absent in history books, the media, and even in the constitution. Until 2015, the Mexican national Census didn’t even have an option for people to identify their African ancestry.
As I reflected on my own experiences with the poor quality of Black history education I received in the U.S.A. and the entirely absent education of Afro-Mexican history, I got to thinking about the shortage of Black beauty in the media. With the global reach of the U.S.A. and Mexican media giants, I am particularly bothered by their poor attention to Black beauty. Across these media outlets, we are constantly bombarded with Eurocentric images and attitudes about beauty. Eurocentrism is so embedded in our society that, for people of color, these ideals are further perpetuated in our own homes. As Mexican women of mixed race, my sister and I spent a major part of our lives attempting to reach beauty ideals that were simply unreachable because they were based on standards of beauty that did not represent us. Among our otherwise loving relatives, we were reminded that the more prominent Afro-Mexican features we inherited from our father were unfavorable, something we should hope to “fix” or hide. I daydreamed about “fixing” my “too big” and round nose, I would straighten my hair to hide my “frizzy” curls, and I dieted and worked out…and I did this with no end, to the point that I reached 13% body fat, so far below the healthy body fat for athletic women that my body stopped menstruating. Both my sister and I did a lot of self-work to have a much healthier view of the features that distinguish us from our fair-skinned and green-eyed maternal relatives. Just as we have chosen to embrace and celebrate every aspect of who we are, we hope to encourage other women to do the same.
As we approach the end of Black History Month, we thought, what could be a better way to support Black beauty in the media than to pay tribute to my wonderful clients who embody the beauty of their African ancestry?
So, in honor of Black History Month, I present to you a personally significant tribute to the descendants of the original African Goddesses and I leave you with the better wisdom of Maya Angelou:
“Still I Rise”
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, w
ith the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops, w
eakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
To all of my beautiful and courageous Goddesses. Always remember that, whether or not you have thick thighs, voluptuous lips, gravity-defying kinks or curls, junk in the trunk, or skin as dark as night…you are already perfect, just as you are.
Maribella and Dr. Lopez
Maria Micaela Arellano Lopez is a fine art fashion and portrait photographer and the artist behind Maribella Portraits, llc. located in Houston, TX metropolitan area. Maribella’s main focus is to capture “the essence and identity” of her clients in an artistic way. She is on a mission to deliver a message of empowerment, achievement, and self-worth to all women and girls. That message is that her value is beyond what she looks like. She is smart, strong, and fierce! She is a Goddess.
Dr. Aracely (Arellano) Lopez is a post-doctoral mental health clinician working in private practice at Neuro Health, Inc. in the Los Angeles, CA metropolitan area, under the supervision of K. Drorit Gaines, Ph.D. (PSY26943). Dr. Lopez is on a mission to improve the mental health wellbeing of communities of color so that people across these marginalized communities may reach their full potential, especially those who have been involved with the criminal justice system. As a teenager, she never did find a straightening iron that straighten her naturally curly hair and now she refuses to hide her curls.