Posted in Uncategorized, tagged african american, asakiyume, black, cartoon, cartoonist, Chicago, cotton club, courier, harlem, humor, jackie ormes, journalism, negro, newspaper, pittsburgh, race, torchy on February 24, 2012 |
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Asakiyume writes a blog I enjoy a lot, and this week she had an intriguing post on Jackie Ormes, generally considered the first female African American cartoonist. See examples of work by Ormes at Asakiyume’s blog, here.
According to wikipedia, Ormes (1911 to 1985), “started in journalism as a proofreader for the Pittsburgh Courier, a weekly African American newspaper that came out every Saturday. Her 1937-38 Courier comic strip, Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem, starring Torchy Brown, was a humorous depiction of a Mississippi teen who found fame and fortune singing and dancing in the Cotton Club.”
The strip waxed and waned as Ormes pursued her many career interests, bur she always returned to Torchy.
“In 1950, the Courier began an eight-page color comics insert, where Ormes re-invented her Torchy character in a new comic strip, Torchy in Heartbeats. This Torchy was a beautiful, independent woman who finds adventure while seeking true love. … The strip is probably best known for its last episode in 1954, when Torchy and her doctor boyfriend confront racism and environmental pollution. Torchy presented an image of a black woman who, in contrast to the contemporary stereotypical media portrayals, was confident, intelligent, and brave.”
Being a cartoonist seems harder than writing a blog. You not only need to find daily topics that interest you enough to dwell on, but you have to encapsulate them in a piece of art. Asakiyume sometimes illustrates her posts, but art is one thing you won’t find me doing here. (Unless maybe a collage.)
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged american poverty, antipoverty, destitute, destitution, James Agee, journalism, journalist, let us now praise famous men, low-income, photo, photograph, photojournalist, poor, poverty, rural poverty, Walker Evans on September 20, 2011 |
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Years ago, when we were living near Rochester, New York, it was pointed out to me that poverty in rural areas was often worse than in cities because people were more isolated and there were fewer services. That winter I contacted an outreach coordinator who had put out a call for warm clothing. I offered to drop off some clothes we no longer needed.
The coordinator, an African American, believed deeply that dropping off clothes was not the same as understanding what the need was. She herself had grown up in a family of migrant farm workers and was acquainted with grief. When she was small, I later learned, her family had even been assigned to a chicken coop for their housing.
The coordinator knew a family who needed my clothes, and she thought I should go with her to make the delivery. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed.
I will never forget the wary, beaten-down look in the eyes of a young woman living with family members in a tumble-down old house. After handing over the donation, the coordinator and I hung around for a brief, awkward chat. I could see that my contribution could not scratch the surface of the family’s need and was mostly for my conscience (which is not a reason to give up on donations, of course).
The main thing that has changed in the America in 30-plus years is that greater percentages of Americans are poor.
That is why some photojournalists, outraged at the lack of serious coverage in the mainstream media and recognizing that a picture is worth a thousand words, have founded an organization to fight poverty called American Poverty. See their recent photos here.
Perhaps you know the work of Walker Evans and James Agee in the Great Depression. The photographers’ new antipoverty site may, like Walker and Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” provoke the question, “Is this America?”
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