The Reclamation

The inspiration was the painting 'Portrait d'une Negresse' done by an elite white European aristocrat in 1800, who sought to use the black woman as an allegory for the struggles blacks and women face. Note, not black women, just women and blacks. The exposed breast, the silenced voice of the anonymous woman in a head wrap, the dark skin against the light cream colors do not liberate, do not stand as feminist painting victory. As a means of honoring this woman, taking back or reclaiming not just the concept of this work but the autonomy white feminist material robs a Latina woman such as myself, I paid homage to the model and redefined the original aesthetic.
Control. I ‘employed’ a white man to be the photographer.
Control and autonomy must be woven into the fabric of feminist work by Latin and WOC. I must take back something more than just vulva, especially now, a moment in pop culture where there is a bombardment of white female singers appropriating hip hop, Black & Latino culture and mocking it. Taken from an essay on Beyte Saar, “Beyte's resistance, like that of her predecessors, arose from her negotiations within a racial struggle, but more specifically, it resulted from her opposition to contemporary (white) feminism's correlation between the female body, sexuality, and aesthetics, and from her focus on the abstract, metaphysical aspects of identity, rather than the material, physical marks of the body.”