So this weekend, I was flipping through HBOmax looking for a movie to watch with my mama and every time I have to CHOOSE a movie I get anxiety because one thing about me is that if you present me with too many options I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CHOOSE. Also, I get distracted because HEY did you know that 3:10 to Yuma (2007) is streaming? I added it to my list ‘cause nobody in my house likes cowboy movies but me really, and I actually REALLY LIKE this movie both the old one AND the new one (because I REALLY LIKE Christian Bale) which I first saw coincidentally when I lived in Yuma. I used to work in graveyard shift and I watched whatever movies they had to rent for guests in this hotel where I used to work and NO this is not part of the BHFOTD this is just how my brain works when I’m writing so I hope nobody ever expects anything different. ANYWAY, THEN I got to thinking about how a) I love cowboy MOVIES but not SHOWS which are two VERY different things in my brain and b) there really aren’t a LOT of black cowboy movies (I looked, because I like to show my work and I am insulted to say that they called the dark tower a black cowboy movie and NO).

And then I remembered that a black cowboy movie JUST came out last year and REASON that I remembered it at all is because it Yuma Territorial Prison is a main character in BOTH of these movies. I loved this movie guys! And while I was looking into this NOT BHFOTD I realized a couple things:

  1. I wrote a fact already about the star of this movie, Nat Love and this story wasn’t in it because it’s fiction! But still a good story. Also,
  2. Did you know the original Lone Ranger was black?
  3. He was ALSO in The Harder They Fall, by his actual name: Bass Reeves!

Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Crawford County, Arkansas, in 1838. He was named after his grandfather, Bass Washington. Reeves and his family were enslaved by Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves. When Bass was eight (about 1846), William Reeves moved to Grayson County, Texas, near Sherman in the Peters Colony. It appears plausible that Reeves was kept in bondage by William Steele Reeves’s son, Colonel George R. Reeves. When the American Civil War began, George Reeves joined the Confederate Army, taking Bass with him. It is unclear how, and exactly when, Bass Reeves escaped, but at some point during the Civil War, he gained his freedom. One account recalls how Bass Reeves and George Reeves had an altercation over a card game. Bass beat the brakes off George, and fled to the Indian Territory where he lived (and learned their languages) among the Cherokee, Creeks and Seminoles until he was freed by the 13rd amendment in 1865.

As a freedman, Reeves moved to Arkansas and farmed until 1875 when Isaac Parker was appointed federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker appointed James F. Fagan as U.S. marshal, directing him to hire 200 deputy U.S. marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Territory and could speak several Native languages. He recruited him as a deputy; Reeves was the first black deputy to serve west of the Mississippi River (where the green grass grows all around all around, where the green grass grows all around). *Clears throat* Reeves was assigned as a deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which had responsibility also for the Native reservation Territory. He served there until 1893. That year he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas, for a short while. In 1897, he was transferred again, serving at the Muskogee Federal Court in the Native Territory.

Reeves worked for 32 years as a federal peace officer in the Indian Territory, and became one of Judge Parker’s most valued deputies. When he retired in 1907, Reeves had on his record over 3,000 arrests of felons. Historian Art Burton makes the argument that based on the sheer number of people Reeves arrested without taking any serious injury, coupled with the fact that many of these arrested were incarcerated in the Detroit House of Correction, the same city where the Lone Ranger radio plays were broadcast on WXYZ.

This theory has been disputed. Because Hollywood would Never Change the Race of A Real Person To Make Them White. [Again. I like to show my work, kids]

Anyway. Bass Reeves’s legacy lives on!

  • In 1992, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
  • In 2011, the US-62 Bridge, which spans the Arkansas River between Muskogee and Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, was renamed the Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge.
  • In May 2012, a bronze statue of Reeves by Oklahoma sculptor Harold Holden was erected in Pendergraft Park in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
  • And in 2013, he was inducted into the Texas Trail of Fame.  
  • He has also been memorialized in books, games, television and film. He was most recently played by Delroy Lindo’s fine ass in The Harder They Fall in 2021. Ride ‘em, cowboy, or whatever the gals be saying.

Happy Monday! Hope you enjoyed today’s blackity black fact! If you’re wondering what I ended up choosing to watch, I chose Miss Congeniality, then promptly took a 2 hour nap and missed the entire movie.

I say a lot of ridiculous sh*t to my friends guys. I do a lot of ridiculous things as well. Truly. Ion’t know how the lot of y’all put up with me at all. BUT YOU DO, AND I LOVE YOU FOR IT.

IN FACT, just yesterday I said something so ridiculous that I am still pretty unclear on how I’m not blocked.

And then I said: it’s me and the rules don’t really apply to me. It’s maybe my favorite perk.

(If you know me, then you know how true this is in general)

The response: Ok, white man.

(Some of you will guess who said this to me. Some of you don’t know them. REST ASSURED THAT IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE, SIR)

ANYWAY. It all sounds like foolishness until you find out that Sarah Rector was so rich that in 1913, Oklahoma legislature declared her as white so that she could reap the benefits that all of her cash money dollars could afford her.

Ahem. Sarah Rector was born in 1902 near the all-black town of Taft, located in the eastern portion of Oklahoma. Her parents were the grandchildren of enslaved Blacks owned by Creek Indians before the Civil War. And so they and their descendants were listed as freedmen and were entitled to land allotments under the Treaty of 1866 made by the united states with the Five Civilized Tribes. Which meant that around 600 Black children were allotted land. Sarah was allotted 159.14 acres. This was a mandatory step in the process of integration of the Indian Territory with Oklahoma Territory to form what is now the State of Oklahoma.

The land that Sarah was allotted was not suitable for farming and her dad leased it to Standard Oil Company to cover the expenses of maintaining all that land. YOU WILL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED GUYS. In 1913, the independent oil driller B.B. Jones drilled a well on the property which produced a “gusher” that began to bring in 2,500 barrels (400 m3) of oil a day. Rector began to receive a daily income of $300 from this strike. The law at the time required full-blooded Indians, black adults, and children who were citizens of Indian Territory with significant property and money, to be assigned “well-respected” white guardians [I can’t see anybody being called “well-respected” whose sole purpose is take money from black people but *looks around* you know what…? Nevermind] There was pressure to change Rector’s guardianship from her parents to a local white resident named T.J. (or J.T.) Porter, an individual known to the family. Rector’s allotment subsequently became part of the Cushing-Drumright Oil Field. In October 1913, Rector received royalties of $11,567.

In 1914, an African American journal, The Chicago Defender, began to take an interest in Rector, just as rumors began to fly that she was a white immigrant who was being kept in poverty. The newspaper published an article claiming that her estate was being mismanaged by her family and that she was uneducated, and had a poor quality of life. This caused National African American leaders Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois to become concerned about her welfare, later creating Children’s Department of the NAACP, which would investigate claims of white guardians who were suspected of depriving black children of their land and wealth. Washington also intervened to help the Rector family. In October of that year, she was enrolled in the Children’s School, a boarding school at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, headed by Washington. Upon graduation, she attended the Institute.

Rector was already a millionaire by the time she had turned 18 in 1920. She owned stocks, bonds, a boarding house, businesses, and a 2,000-acre piece of prime river bottomland. At that point, she left Tuskegee and, with her entire family, moved to Kansas City, Missouri. She purchased a house on 12th Street, known as the Rector House, which is currently owned by a local nonprofit, with the intention of restoration and historical and cultural preservation.

Rector was living her best life.[hey. Don’t listen to that at work] She threw lavish parties and entertained celebrities such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She died in 1967, at the age of 65. She’s interred in her childhood hometown of Taft.

I have lots to say about this and not a lot of time to say it but the main point is that she died NOT THAT LONG before I was born. Also can you imagine being so rich that they call you white just so you can live your life with YOUR GODDAMN money?

That’s all folks! Happy Friday!

See you next week. Up to you to figure out if that’s a threat or a promise!

Today is one of these days where I wanna talk about me. Like, I love dropping random songs into my facts. I also love corny jokes (which most of y’all know) I am a number nerd. I LOOOOVE numbers (And numerology! Because numbers! FOR INSTANCE. Yesterday was 2/2/22. Yes. I was very excited about this. So many 2s! DID Y’ALL KNOW that the number 2 is about partnerships? The balance of 2 individual people, concepts, or things. A yin and yang, if you will. OR, in the context of what I’m doing here BLACK AND WHITE.

What does being a number weirdo have to do with any of this? WELL. Yesterday while I was not sending a new fact, I saw a fact that happened yesterday and I was slightly sad that I didn’t send it yesterday because also happened on 2/2 but, in 1948. Which lacks 2s. 74* years ago. But then I said to myself: I can send/write this tomorrow! Because I run this show and I run it on black people time.

ANYWAY Did you know that 74 years ago Harry Truman sent a special message to Congress about Civil rights?  AND BECAUSE I CARE, I read the whole message and it’s a lot (ahem. That’s what she said?), and because I know we don’t all have the bandwidth to read a bunch of bullsh*t, I mean…the entire message, Imma just…. Give y’all some cliff notes, because while TECHNICALLY I’m not writing this fact, Imma show my work because I don’t want y’all thinking I just be out here cutting and pasting all willy nilly.

Y’all ready to get into today’s fact?

AHEM :::pushes up glasses and cracks knuckles:::

By 1947 the question of black civil rights in the South** had become a national issue when a committee President Harry S. Truman appointed to study the issue called for legislation which among other things would to protect voting rights for Southern blacks and provide federal protection against lynching.  In response to the report President Truman sent a special message to Congress on the issue on February 2, 1948.  That message, the first by a sitting president to address the question of black civil rights, is linked here because I know ain’t nobody finna read all that.

The Beginning of the message:

To the Congress of the United States:

In the State of the Union Message on January 7, 1948, I spoke of five great goals toward which we should strive in our constant effort to strengthen our democracy and improve the welfare of our people. The first of these is to secure fully our essential human rights. I am now presenting to the Congress my recommendations for legislation to carry us forward toward that goal.

This Nation was founded by men and women who sought these shores that they might enjoy greater freedom and greater opportunity than they had known before. The founders of the United States proclaimed to the world the American belief that all men are created equal, and that governments are instituted to secure the inalienable rights with which all men are endowed. In the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, they eloquently expressed the aspirations of all mankind for equality and freedom.

These ideals inspired the peoples of other lands, and their practical fulfillment made the United States the hope of the oppressed everywhere. Throughout our history men and women of all colors and creeds, of all races and religions, have come to this country to escape tyranny and discrimination. Millions strong, they have helped build this democratic Nation and have constantly reinforced our devotion to the great ideals of liberty and equality. With those who preceded them, they have helped to fashion and strengthen our American faith—a faith that can be simply stated:

We believe that all [white] men are created equal and that they have the right to equal justice under law. *Please note that I ADDED white here because I think it was there originally? I am only 3/5ths confident that I’m correct though.

We believe that all white men have the right to freedom of thought and of expression and the right to worship as they please.

We believe that all white men are entitled to equal opportunities for jobs, for homes, for good health and for education.

We believe that all white men should have a voice in their government and that government should protect, not usurp, the rights of the people.

These are the basic civil rights which have historically only been offered to white men are the source and the support of our democracy.

Today, the American white people enjoy more freedom and opportunity than ever before. Never in our history has there been better reason to hope for the complete realization of the ideals of liberty and equality. HAHAHAHAHA…*serious face*

I could stop here (and I promise, he had SO MUCH MORE TO SAY and I really don’t know why considering the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther (thee) King Jr’s Montgomery Bus Boycott was in 1955 so clearly not a damn thang had changed between now and then), but I will not! Or at least, I’m not just gonna stop talking. Imma wrap this up all cute for y’all because already this is longer than I would like. [Yes. I am definitely stopping myself from saying something deeply inappropriate here]

BACK TO THIS MESSAGE: He goes on to say that This is Not Who America Is™. Okay, he didn’t. He said that something about achieving the ideals that this Nation was founded on so long ago and well.  I’m pretty sure these statements are Separate but Equal(ly offensive statements to Black People) in meaning. He said other stuff that I don’t feel like getting into about providing statehood for Hawaii and Alaska, and equalizing the opportunities for residents to become naturalized citizens (WHEW, CHILE), and settling evacuation claims of Japanese-Americans (again, Not My Lane)

He ends with this:

If we wish to inspire the peoples of the world whose freedom is in jeopardy, if we wish to restore hope to those who have already lost their civil liberties, if we wish to fulfill the promise that is ours, we must correct the remaining imperfections in our practice of democracy.

We know the way. We need only the will.

And ALL I’m going to say about that is that nothing. Imma just gently place this tweet down and you can read into that what you will.

*Also I guess I can’t say that I’m into numbers and numerology without pointing out that 74 years is really 7+4 that is really 11 which is technically 1+1 which equals. Two. SO MANY 2’S YESTERDAY!

BUT THREE IS ALWAYS GONNA BE THE MAGIC NUMBER. I know. I am definitely insane. But it’s also why these facts are so much fun.

It’s MEEE, baby – Erykah Badu. And me. Because I am definitely singing out loud as I type. Sorry, not sorry to my co-workers.

Welcome to February! It’s been a VERY long time, but we back! And by “we” I definitely mean me – this remains a one woman show. WHICH IS FINE, because that means I can say what I wanna say (which I was gon’ do anyway). Y’all excited yet? I’m just going to assume the silent eyerolling I heard all the way from here means yes. Can you believe that in 2022 there are still Black history firsts for me to write about on the first day of February we made it to another year?! While still being in a panorama?! Amazing! Congratulations! Glad to see we’re all here being annoyed by the current state of things. Hope you’re doing something to fix it in your corner of the world wherever that is! Yes. I’m starting early on my BS. You’re welcome.

Also! Welcome new people! Hi Erica! [My mama told her I was funny! She did not tell her that when I add you to the list, you run the risk of me dragging you into my foolishness.]

ANYWAY. Today is probably the ONLY day that I have, scheduled (sorta) a fact. I’m sending this from the past! I wrote this yesterday! So that tomorrow I can look for ANOTHER FACT because even though I SAID I was going to do better and stop lollygagging when I know I have facts to write, I. HAVE. NOT. New Year. Same me. Mostly.

I also want to say that somebody needs to do something nice for me for getting this out when I am hungover. WHY AM I HUNGOVER? Glad you asked! Because I make poor decisions while watching football and drinking whiskey. YOU GUYS. I haven’t watched football in I honestly cannot remember, but it was on where I was so I did. I watched the KC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (FYI: Your team name is racist). AND THEN, drunk me cried watching OBJ comfort Deebo Samuel because OF COURSE I DID. And then I remembered how much I love play off games because now everyone is emotionally invested and how it’s the only place men are really allowed to cry because yannow boys don’t cry. Or so they say. Unless sportsball. Only women are “allowed”* to cry. BUT WHAT IF WOMEN WERE IN FOOTBALL? WOULD WOMEN IN FOOTBALL ALLOWED TO CRY?


YES! That is the sound of me getting to the point of this email! Y’all know I love doing firsts for the first day of BHFOTD! [Yes! Imma use allll the exclamation points!! Because I do what I want!!]

Jennifer King (no relation to Reverend Doctor Martin Luther the King – I am assuming this because I’m sure if she was they’d be shouting it from the mountain top…did y’all…see what I did there?) born in Eden, North Carolina became the first Black woman to become a full-time coach in NFL History. In December of 2021. She attended Guilford College, where she played college basketball and softball, before graduating with a degree in sports management in 2006. She went on to play in the Women’s Football Alliance from 2006 – 2019. She was an assistant coach at Greensboro College from 2006 to 2016. AND THEN she was hired as the women’s basketball head coach at Johnson & Wales University in North Carolina, where she turned around a program that had existed for only two years prior into a national champion within two seasons.

King was one of 40 women to attend the NFL’s Women’s Forum in 2018, where she met then-Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and expressed her interest in working with in the NFL. She was hired as an intern by the Panthers later that year, where she assisting in coaching their wide receivers. She got her first full-time coaching gig in 2018 as an assistant wide receivers and special teams coach for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football (AAF). After the AAF folded in 2019, King was once again brought on as an intern for the Panthers, this time working with the running backs. She interned once more as a coach with the Washington Football Team in 2020, working once again under Rivera who joined Washington that season. She was promoted to assistant running backs coach the following year, making her the first (only) black woman to become a full-time coach in NFL history. In 2021.

As a sidenote, I checked to see how many NFL head coaches have never played in the NFL. The answer is 11 (12, I guess if you count Jenny, yes now that I’ve written about her I can call her that, but also women don’t play in the NFL?). There is exactly ONE person that coached an NFL team AND a major league baseball team. But it’s looking like Ms. King is the only coach that PLAYED basketball, football AND softball and coached Basketball (and won a national championship) and now Football. It’s giving being twice as good to get half as much, but I’m SURE there are other reasons that it took so long to add a Very Qualified Person to their roster that had nothing to do with not having a penis. [comic sans remains the sarcasm font of choice]

And here we are! Fact #1 down for February 1. *cue the soca horns* Hope you enjoyed the only fact is not going to be a last minute scramble because I continue to be a menace to both myself and you. Woo! See you tomorrow with a flashback fact because I’m gonna continue to take Wednesdays off! Happy February everyone! Let’s get ready to learn y’all some sh!t about black folks you may or may not have known because the only time we talk about black folk accomplishments is February ruuuuumbbbllle!

*women are allowed to do whatever TF we want. Including cry. But also know we will cry and still cut you.

I do not know about y’all (I know about some of y’all. But there are things about y’all I do not know), but EYE come from a fairly musical family. I have a sister that sings well, a daughter that umm…SINGS. A son that can sing AND play a bunch of instruments (Hi, Boy!). Cousins that sing and play instruments. And that is just on *MY* side of the family. If you’re wondering about me, if you had me a note Very Gently, and I do mean *VERY GENTLY* I can carry it around for a little bit. But dassit. But I LOVE MUSIC! And probably not just because I’m black. [By the way guys, I definitely do make liberal use of that stereotype/joke BECAUSE *I* CAN. It is up to you to decide if this is a joke you can make. Just remember that freedom of speech =/= freedom from consequence, so choose wisely]

I also listen to a lot of music. All kinds. But also all day. Like, this morning when I was getting dressed for work I listened to Outkast. Because it’s great for getting you UP and moving (and yes there is also dancing at before 7AM while I’m getting dressed/putting on makeup) and then I get to work and listen to Lo-Fi while I’m hard at work procrastinating the fact that I *KNOW* I have a fact that I need to write but also I GOT WORK TO DO because also I HAVE A JOB THAT IS NOT ACTUALLY WRITING YOU JOKERS FACTS EVERY DAY. But. I do it ’cause I love you. Except you. You know who you are. Anyway. I want y’all to know that lo-fi is the perfect music to write to! I love it and yes this very last BHFOTD is a thank you to the late, great J Dilla, Godfather of Lo-Fi hip hop!

James Dewitt Yancey aka J Dilla aka Jay Dee was a record producer and rapper who emerged in the mid-‘90’s hip hop scene in Detroit, Michigan, as 1/3 of the music group Slum Village. He was also a member of the Soulquarians.

Dilla’s family had a musical background. His mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey is a former opera singer and his father Beverly Dewitt Yancey was a jazz bassist AND performed Globetrotters half-time shows for several years (I..I mean okay, but it seems like A LOT). His brother John started making music later as Illa J. Along with a wide range of other musical genres, Jay developed a passion for hip hop music. After transferring to Pershing HS he met classmates T3 and Baatin and became friends with them through their mutual interest in rap battles. The three formed the rap group called Slum Village He also took up beat-making using a simple tape deck as the center of his studio. During these teenage years he “stayed in the basement alone” in order to train himself to produce beats with his growing record collection.

In 1992, he met the Detroit musician Amp Fiddler, who let Jay Dee use his Akai MPC, of which he quickly gained mastery. Fiddler, while playing keyboards with Funkadelic on the group’s slot on the 1994 Lollapalooza tour, met Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, who were also on the lineup. This is where Fiddler introduced Q-Tip to Jay Dee, who gave Q-Tip a Slum Village demo tape. In 1995, Jay Dee and MC Phat Kat formed 1st Down and became the first Detroit hip hop group to sign with a major label. In ’96, Slum Village recorded what would become their debut album Fantastic, Vol 1. The album quickly became a hit on the Detroit hip hop scene. By the mid-90’s Dilla had a string of singles and remix projects for Janet Jackson, The Pharcyde, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip’s solo album and others. Many of these productions were released without his name recognition, being credited to The Ummah, a production collective composed of him, Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, and later Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné!. However, he was given songwriting credit on all of his non-remix productions under The Ummah.

2000 marked the major label debut of Slum Village with Fantastic, Vol. 2, creating a new following for J Dilla as a producer and an MC. He was also a founding member of the production collective known as The Soulquarians . Fun fact! The reason that I know about J Dilla is through Bilal, who was part of the Soulquarians collective. Who sings one of my favorite songs ever, who said this about him: “He had this thing where no matter what he picked up he could bend his will into it. Just because you hear it so strong in your head you can throw the funk in it.”

Dilla was signed to a solo deal with MCA Records in 2002. Although Dilla was known as a producer rather than an MC, he chose to rap on the album and have the music produced by some of his favorite producers, such as Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Supa Dave West, Kanye West, Nottz, Waajeed and others. The album was shelved due to internal changes at the label and MCA.

J Dilla’s illness and medication caused dramatic weight loss in 2003 onwards, forcing him to publicly confirm speculation about his health in 2004. The seriousness of his condition became public in November 2005 when J Dilla toured Europe performing from a wheelchair. J Dilla died on February 10, 2006, at his home in Los Angeles, California, three days after his 32nd birthday and the release of his final album Donuts. [Sorry guys. I know this week has been filled with dead musicians, but it is what it is]

Dilla’s musical legacy, much like The Marathon, continues. At the time of his death, J Dilla had 150 unreleased beats, some of which were featured on Slum Village’s album  “Yes!”, His album Ruff Draft was reissued as a double LP/CD and is considered his 3rd solo album. Yancey Boys, an album by J Dilla’s younger brother Illa J was released in 2008. It’s produced entirely by J Dilla. In 2020, Dres of Black Sheep announced that he would be releasing a collaborative album with J Dilla titled No Words, with unreleased instrumentals of Dilla’s provided with the cooperation of Ma Dukes Yancey. His music is used in various TV programs and commercials. Common’s album Finding Forever is an album entirely dedicated to J Dilla, in which Kanye West cut up the samples in methods that J Dilla used. De La Soul pay tribute to Dilla on the track “La La La” with the line: “Dilla, if you hear me, we are missing you so much.” Y’all. I could go on and on because there are SO MANY ARTISTS that paid tribute. Love is knowing that you’ve touched so many creators that they love on you even after you’ve gone.

In fact, if I planned this out better, I coulda gave y’all this fact on Dilla Day (February 6th) The annual celebration of Dilla’s music and spirit in various cities complete with concerts and lectures and more (oh my!) MAYBE NEXT YEAR.

ANYWAY. That’s my time! Hope you enjoyed this years random facts about Black people, and Black people things! If you did, I accept well wishes, hugs and tips. If you didn’t, it’s because you’re terrible and don’t know culture when you see it! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR. Or…yannow. Whenever.

[Also yes. ONE of those song links is a Slum Village song. NO. I’m not going to tell you which one.]

We are stuck in this pappardelle (with an end in sight I guess, but SH!T. CAN EVERYBODY JUST GET VACCINATED ALREADY? DAMN.) which means I have NOT been going to get my hair did, so praise all things holy that I just be out here wearing my hair raw because can you imagine if I was straightening my hair? I am also unable to braid my own hair or wear a wig that doesn’t make me look like I belong in a Tyler Perry movie (to be fair, the only wig I own is purple, so really I’d just be out here looking like a disco queen which is not as bad a look on me as you’d think). But in a REGULAR colored wig I’d look a whole ass mess. Mostly though that’d be because I’m incompetent at doing my own hair, because thanks to Naomi Sims, I wouldn’t have to wear a wig that looked like I slapped on some white woman’s hair and tried to pass it off as A LEWK (and I would and I would also dare a white person to make any kinda comment about what my hair was looking like too but not the point of this story)

The point is that Naomi Sims, first Black Woman to appear on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal (in 1968. For reference, LHJ was first published in 1883), who is ALSO as being the first Black supermodel knew even then that The Beauty Industry does not*, I mean, did not care enough about Black people to know what to do with Black People Hair EVEN as they styled them to perfection to sell their clothes to People With Money, EVEN if they happened to be Black. “I was driven to a distraction in terms of how to vary my hairstyle”, Naomi said.

She new that wearing wigs was an option, but what was not an option was being out there wearing wigs that made her look like she just grabbed a hat with some hair on it. Can you imagine? Walking down the runway in a dress that costs thousands, in a wig that looked like it costs $5? Naomi was not pleased with the wig options available to her. They had smooth, straight fibers that looked nothing like Black hair. BUT SHE HAD AN IDEA: She took the best-selling fiber wig for white women, wet the fiber down and put it in the oven. The result was a curlier, coarser fiber and a new business idea.

After approaching several wig manufacturers, she finally inked a deal with Metropa Company, a small import-export firm that sold a line of wigs for Black women. The company agreed to put up some money, and make its research laboratories available to Sims. The company developed a lightweight wig fiber that  looked like straightened Black hair, and did not have to be set. The fiber was patented and trademarked under the name Presselle, and the first line of the Naomi Sims Collection went into production.

For the first three years, Sims designed all the wig styles herself. “Basically, we duplicated the styles that were popular–what Black women in the street were wearing, and combined that with my fashion sense,” Sims told Black Enterprise. She also wrote and designed the advertisements, and traveled around the country promoting her wigs. Initially store buyers who were most assuredly Not Black were skeptical about the need for Naomi’s product, but in the first year of sales reached $5 million dollars, proving them wrong.

By the early ‘80’s Sims gradually expanded her business interests to include perfume, skin care products and cosmetics for Black women. Four years later, she founded her own company, Naomi Sims Beauty Products, Ltd. By 1989, Naomi Sims Beauty Products was grossing $5 million, and its products were distributed not only across the United States, but also in Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada. By the late 1980s, however, Sims’s firm was being challenged by larger, white-owned firms, who wanted a share of the Black cosmetics market while continuing not to care about the Black women who bought it.

Sims has been criticized by people who accused her of making money from women’s fears about their own attractiveness. She had this to say: “I am sure I have my share of Black female critics and enemies,” she was quoted as saying in Black Business Leaders. “It doesn’t matter. I adore women and I know I am a woman’s woman….I would be nowhere if it weren’t for Black women.”

Whew. Can I get an amen?

Anyway! That’s today’s fact boys and girls and everyone in between. Hope you enjoyed it. You got one more day and then I go back into ignoring Lex’s request for Black History Facts until next year. Or if I feel like talking sh!t about current things that for some reason sound like history things because people that uphold white supremacy NEVER EVER learn from the past and I can ALWAYS find something to connect a thing today with a thing from yesteryear. Or if I just wanna say hi. Okay. Bye!

A couple years ago, back when people went outside and I went to festivals. I was outside and I went to a festival. Coachella, to be exact. With The Boy. The best thing about having kids early is HAVING GROWN KIDS. Please don’t let anybody tell you different. ANYWAY. We went to Coachella and you guys, EYE was in charge of stuff! Which if you know me at all, you know you should be amazed because that meant that I made DECISIONS and PLANNED THINGS. I wanted to have all the big stuff out of the way (lodging, food, DID I PACK THAT THING I WAS MAYBE NOT GOING TO NEED, BUT MAYBE I WAS?) so that I could spend Coachella the way you are supposed to spend Coachella: Not Sober™. AND. AND I also managed to not get (too) lost because honestly I get distracted by shiny things and things that look interesting but also I still managed to lose everyone ordering food and PLEASE NOTE: it really takes a singular dedication to getting lost if you can do it while you’re standing in line ordering sweet potato fries (that were AMAZING, by the by). ALSO I only lost The Boy a couple times, but one of those times was definitely His Fault, but also he’s grown and he knew where the locker was and knew we’d end up there at the end of the night because he is truly his mother’s child. But this isn’t about a time he got lost it is about a time we were together!

So! I’m not sure where everyone else was, but Coachella had this Dome thing that had bean bag chairs and a digital show with Flying Lotus as the soundtrack and we decided to go to it. It was hot though because it was The Desert in April and while we were standing in line this girl in front of us overheated and passed out and this person who seemed to have medical training of some sort was standing next to us checked this girl out blah blah blah she was fine just needed some air, they took her into the Dome to cool off because it was air conditioned. Everyone is VERY IMPRESSED. There’s clapping and cheering and then he turned around and…y’all. That dudes pupils were as big as the moon. I don’t think Captain Save a Ho was sober. At all. But according to sources who were Not Me, that is the way you were intended to see this show. Tripping out on psychedelics while listening to experimental electronica of Alice Coltrane’s grand-nephew. Which is awesome because look at Flying Lotus following in the family business!

Alice McLeod grew up in a musical household. Her mother was a member of the church choir and her brother, Ernest Farrow was a jazz bassist. With the encouragement of her father, Alice McLeod pursued music and started performing around Detroit until she moved to Paris is the late 1950’s. There she studied classical music and jazz, where she worked as the intermission pianist at the Blue Note Jazz Club in the 60’s. It was there were she got hitched to Kenny “Pancho” Hagood, then divorced and moved back to Detroit with her daughter. She continued playing jazz as a professional with her own trio, and as a duo with vibraphonist Terry Pollard. In 1962-3, she played with Terry Gibbs’ quartet where she met some dude named John Coltrane*. Alice and John’s growing involvement in spirituality influenced some of John’s compositions and projects, such as A Love Supreme. In January 1966, Alice Coltrane replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane’s group and subsequently recorded with him and continued playing with the band until John’s death on July 17, 1967. After her husband’s death, she continued to forward the musical and spiritual vision, and started to release records as a composer and bandleader. Her first album, A Monastic Trio, was recorded in 1967. From 1968 to 1977, she released thirteen full-length records. As the years passed, her musical direction moved further from standard jazz into the more cosmic, spiritual, psychedelic world.

The 1990’s saw a renewed interest in her work, which led to her return to the stage for three US appearances in the fall, including a concert at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium presented by University Musical Society of the University of Michigan on September 23, which would have been John Coltrane’s 80th birthday, and culminating on November 4 with a concert for the San Francisco Jazz Festival with her son Ravi, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Charlie Haden.

Alice Coltrane died of respiratory failure at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles in 2007, aged 69 (nice!) She is buried alongside John Coltrane in Pinelawn Memorial Park, Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York.

Her music and legacy live on. Paul Weller dedicated his song “Song for Alice”, from his 2008 album 22 Dreams, to Coltrane; the track entitled “Alice” on Sunn O’s 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions was similarly inspired. Electronic musician Flying Lotus is the grand-nephew of Alice Coltrane. The song “That Alice” on Laura Veirs’ album Warp and Weft is about Coltrane. Orange Cake Mix included a song entitled “Alice Coltrane” on their 1997 LP Silver Lining Underwater. Poet giovanni singleton’s book Ascension includes 49 poems written daily after Alice Coltrane’s death.

*I guess it’s worth mentioning that John Coltrane is also considered one of the inspirations for psychedelic rock. The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” is often considered the first psych rock song. The group said that they loved his innovative playing including “all those funny little notes and fast stuff at the bottom of the range”. Apparently JOHN Coltrane inspired musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa and is sampled all over hip hop songs. And I think he also had a jazz following. I’m not really sure.

USUALLY when I do deathiversaries they are WAY less…sad? I mean they’re SAD ‘cause generally these people die of unnatural causes but the fact is really about their lives and what we learned from them while they were here and this one is…well. Not That. So with that warning let’s get into today’s HFOTD**

After the 1896 Presidential election, the (Republican) William McKinley administration appointed hundreds of Black People to postmasterships during his remaining tenure, as part of patronage jobs to build local networks.  And OF COURSE white people were like WHAT. THEE. F*CK. Because a) how DARE this outgoing administration appoint a bunch of people on their way out (AAAHAHAHAHAHAHA *cough*) and more importantly b) they claimed to have economic anxiety fear increased political power of Black postmasters would embolden them to proposition white women.

Anyway. Frazier Baker, a 40 year old married schoolteacher, father of six(!) kids, was appointed postmaster of Lake City in S. Carolina in 1897. White folks initiated a boycott and circulated petitions calling for Baker’s dismissal. One complaint was that Baker had cut mail delivery from 3x/day to one after threats against his life were made. I guess…he didn’t care for death threats? A postal inspector investigated and recommended the post office be closed, and in response a white mob burned it down with the expectation people gave a damn what some backwards country hicks thought about having a Black postmaster. The government obtained space on the outskirts of town because y’all still want mail don’tcha? A lessening of racial tension led Baker to send for his family in February 1898. A LESSENING. Baker still received death threats and he let his superiors in Washington know people were still mad.

At 1 am, February 22nd, the Baker family woke to find their house (which also served as the post office) on fire. Upon realizing he wasn’t gonna be able to put out the fire, Baker sent his son to get help, but as soon as he opened the door, he was met with gunfire. Saying that they “might as well die running as standing still”, Frazier Baker headed to the door, but before he could open it, a bullet struck his youngest daughter, killing her. Baker threw open the door and was cut down in a hail of gunfire. Baker’s wife, Lavinia, wounded by the bullet that killed her daughter, managed to escape the burning house and hide until the flames and gunfire subsided.

The lynching was met with widespread condemnation, including in the South. But the S. Carolina Senator who was an elected official whose job it was supposed to be to serve ALL the constituents in the state, said “The very fine proud people of Lake City refused to receive their mail from a HARD R [look at me, getting my work filter the runaround]”. Journalist Ida B Wells noted this mob ain’t even bother to make up an excuse for murdering Baker, the way they usually did, and told President McKinley this was a federal matter, since he died “at his post of duty in defense of his country’s honor, as truly as did ever a soldier on the field of battle”

A grand jury was convened but surprising nobody at all, it failed to return any indictments. The McKinley administration conducted a robust investigation, including offering at $1,500 reward ($46,098 today) for the arrest and conviction of members of the mob. Thirteen men were ultimately indicted in US Circuit Court on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, assault and destruction of mail after 2 men turned state’s evidence in exchange for their charges being dropped. An all-white jury deliberated for 24 hours before declaring a mistrial. The jury was deadlocked in reaching a verdict 5-5 and the case was never retried. [Here is where I’d normally post links to ALL of the lynching perpetuated by police of Black people but there are so many that my mind cannot just think of one so Imma just invite YOU to think of one, then think of how the cops in questions just…kept on being cops. Also please note that they are generally called “officer involved” something or other instead of their proper name: LYNCHING]

Moving on! In 1918, the St. James AME Church was constructed on the site of Baker’s burned post office and house and on October 5, NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE, the church was burned down. Locals suspected arson by white supremacists angry at the activism of Minister Joseph DeLaine during the Civil Rights Movement on behalf of the NAACP. He’d been warned that he lived “where the Black postmaster was shot to death”.  In 2003, the state General Assembly passed a resolution installing a South Carolina historical marker about the lynching and house fire. That marker was unveiled in October 2013 on the previous location of the post office and Baker’s home.

**Yes. I am aware I left off the B in BHFOTD; HOWEVER, I’d like to point out that really it’s just for form any damn way since Black people built this country AND Black History *IS IN FACT* The History of The United States™

Anyway Happy Monday! Hope you had a good day, see you tomorrow for who knows what kinda fact Imma pull out my ass!

My mother loves to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, which means that if I want to sit in the same room with her I ALSO will be watching Jeopardy and the Wheel of Fortune. Last night I was exhausted per usual because I’VE HAD A STRESSFUL PANDEMIC YEAR AND THIS MFER IS STILL GOING AND I AM HITTING A WALL OKAY, but I still decided to watch some Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, or at least be in the room on my phone while it was happening.

Anyway. Yesterday there was a Black Person™ on Jeopardy I am always surprised when there’s a random Black Person on Jeopardy because let’s just be honest and say there just isn’t a lot of Black folks on that show for WHATEVER THE REASON. Which is also kinda like the fact that Jeopardy questions about Black People (Places, Things)™ are ALSO pretty scarce on that show, and whenever there ARE questions, everyone looks like fucking deer caught in the headlights and I wonder why it is that people are supposed to know about Thorton Wilder but not today’s BHFOTD who was in the SAME DAMN CATEGORY. It’s on the tip of my tongue but I just can’t qu(wh)ite put my finger on it.

I wasn’t really paying attention but heard the question to the answer was “Who is KENDRICK LAMAR*?”

Me, not looking up: Who answered that?

Her: The Black man. The other two people didn’t even PRETEND to go for the buzzer.

The answer: Here he is after leaving the luncheon after accepting his 2018 Pulitzer Prize, for his album Damn. The recording was the first musical work not in the jazz or classical genres to win the prize.

Ta-da! It is possible to keep things short and sweet (like me) BUT I DON’T because dragging these out and making you trying to figure out WTF I’m hiding the damn fact is part of the fun!

Happy Friday! Hope you’re gonna do something relaxing like not stress over the Wheel of Fortune answers because honestly sometimes I really wonder WTF do they come up with their People, Places and Things and WHY do they give you standard letters for the puzzle and then not use any of those mfers in the puzzle.

See you next week for the last installment of Black People™ Doing Stuff, and Being Places.

*ALSO: K-Dot was a previous answer to a Jeopardy question and Damn..

and since all I do is eat hot chip and lie walk on the beach and sit on my couch, I was thinking about watching some old movies with Spanky. We talked about it at the end of the year, but between watching Girlfriends and re-watching Grey’s, we’ve only watched a few older movies (Christmas ones: It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. I feel like most of the old Christmas movies are white, but I digress.). And because I like to keep it funky, I made her and her cousin watch Player’s Club. Also! Since this weekend is going to look just like the other ones, I was thinking of other movies that we could watch, and after this fact is done Imma look to see if The Last Dragon is playing anywhere. Because I love it. I mean yes. We could watch Mahogany, or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? And we will, eventually. But who doesn’t wanna watch a black karate movie that stars Vanity of Vanity 6? Nobody. Or at least not me. And, I say this a lot about a lot of things, SHARING IS CARING. Nothing says I LOVE YOU more than me sharing some of my ridiculous with you. YOU’RE WELCOME IN ADVANCE.

Anyway. If you’re trying to figure out WTF this has to do with a BHFOTD, lemme tell you: While I was sitting here thinking of a way to torture share something with my millennial, I thought to myself WHY does this picture of Sho’ Nuff (The Shogun of Harlem) look…familiar? And the answer is because today’s BHFOTD is about Yasuke, the first black samurai who I’m fairly certain does not PURPOSEFULLY look like Sho’Nuff. I’m sure it’s just because they’re both black, but let’s go with it for the sake of continuity, hm?

*cracks knuckles and opens wikipedia*

Yasuke was a samurai of African origin who served as a retainer under the Sengoku period Japanese daimyō Oda Nobunaga. In 1579 Yasuke arrived in Japan in the service of Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano, Visitor of Missions in the Indies, in India. Yasuke is thought by some to have been the first African that Nobunaga had ever seen and he was one of the many Africans to have come with the Portuguese to Japan during the Nanban trade. When Yasuke was presented to Oda Nobunaga, the Japanese Daimyō thought that his skin must have been coloured with black ink. When Nobunaga realized that the African’s skin was indeed black, he took an interest in him.

The Lord Nobunaga Chronicle describes the meeting thus: “On the 23rd of the 2nd month [23 March 1581], a black page came from the Christian countries. The man was healthy with a good demeanor and Nobunaga praised Yasuke’s strength. Nobunaga’s nephew gave him a sum of money at this first meeting. On 14 May, Yasuke departed for Echizen Province with Fróis and the other Christians. During this trip, they met local warlords such as Shibata Katsutoyo, Hashiba Hidekatsu, and Shibata Katsuie. They returned to Kyoto on 30 May. At some point, although when is not clear, Yasuke entered Nobunaga’s service.

It’s likely that Yasuke could speak or was taught Japanese, perhaps due to Valignano’s efforts to ensure his missionaries adapted well to the local culture. Nobunaga enjoyed talking with him (there is no indication that Nobunaga spoke Portuguese). He was perhaps the only non-Japanese retainer that Nobunaga had in his service. Yasuke was mentioned in the archives of the Maeda clan. According to this, the black man named Yasuke  was given his own residence and a short, ceremonial katana by Nobunaga. Nobunaga also assigned him the duty of weapon bearer.

In June 1582, Nobunaga was attacked and forced to commit seppuku in Honnō-ji in Kyoto by the army of Akechi Mitsuhide. Immediately after Nobunaga’s death, Yasuke went to join Nobunaga’s heir Oda Nobutada who was trying to rally the Oda forces at Nijō Castle. Yasuke fought alongside the Nobutada forces but was eventually captured. When Yasuke was presented to Akechi, the warlord allegedly said that the black man was an animal as well as not Japanese and should thus not be killed, but taken to the Christian church in Kyoto. There is some doubt regarding the credibility of this fate/ It’s possible they’re trying to not like terrible people but also calling a black man an animal is pretty plausible and definitely happens in the year two thousand and twenty-one so who knows.

There is no further written information about him after this.

There’s also no confirmed portraits of Yasuke drawn by a contemporary, HOWEVER, there’s representation in other media:

  • A book written in 1968 called Kurosuke.
  • Japanese period dramas (and they called J-dramas?), and manga, including a manga called The Man Who Killed Nobunaga
  • Video games produced in 2017 & 2020 featuring a portrayal of Yasuke
  • And an anime coming out this year called Yasuke
  • There was GOING to be a LIVE action film with Chadwick Boseman portraying Yasuke, but the chance for that has expired. (No? Too soon?)

*closes tab*

And there you have it! Today’s BHFOTD! And also because I mentioned it here’s a side by side. Like, they only have serious photos of the fake Yasuke, but maybe if he let his hair down and smiled more? No?