|No Vietnamese were harmed in the making of this photo.|
A term popularized during the Harlem Renaissance, it was first used by the scholar Alain LeRoy Locke. To have used the term "New Negro"(because no one in the 21st century uses this term except these people) was to imply a more outspoken advocacy of dignity and a refusal to submit quietly to the practices and laws of Jim Crow segregation. Most Black people "up on their history" know this already. What I'm trying to figure out is, why a group of designers from Japan felt it necessary to use this term in their brand. I mean, Black people don't even say this anymore. It's 2011 ASIAN PEOPLE!!! WTF Did you miss the memo??? Black people don't dance around in top hats and black paint; Black people don't wear hip hop gear and call themselves "new negros", because there is nothing "new" about wearing hip hop attire, and no one has used the term "negro" since 1975. I admire the flattery. I appreciate the infatuation. But I find it troubling that my culture is being taken out of its context. Take for example the "New Negro" brand. I have noticed this baseball cap for a while. It adorns the shelves of two of Saigon's hip hop stores. After seeing it a second time, I had to do some research.
New Negro Group Co. [I don't see anything "Black" or "American" about this logo.]
"We are not just a clothing company. . . Our intention is to change the mind of the person who wears our clothes [i.e. Vietnamese boys?] and everyone who sees them. [Riiiiiigght, cause Vietnamese actually know where the heck the phrase "new negro" comes from] When you wear our bold collection you are refreshing your mind to a possible new world. [Are Asian's the new Black People?] We are the Defenders of the Dream of Unity. [I assume ref. of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech] Spread the word: "Peace, Love and Respect, by showing your true color [Again, if your audience is Asian, then that color would be "yellow" not Black] . . . New Negro." Our clothing expresses the "New Mind" we feel when dressed for the New Life of Respect for Everyone.
Innocent enough, the overall angle seems to be based on positive vibes. I still have no clue if the company is run by real live Black people, or a group of Japanese staging as such, or others. Why does it matter you ask? The problem is this: When you come to America, you will NEVER find Black people participating in the commerce of goods and services that are based on another culture that is 180 degree difference from their own. If you go to Harlem, you won't find a man selling Puka shells on the street and calling it "The essence of Filipinos." When you go to Chicago you won't see Black people in China town selling whitening cream. We don't bastardize other cultures. We don't try to take hold of someone else's cultural practices and make it our own. But maybe we should? Perhaps we should start to participate in the global economy, educate ourselves on the practices and customs of other cultures and based on supply and demand take part making millions off of the needs of these foreign customers.
Korean's have it down to a science!
Shouts out to the My cousin's Martial Arts Academy!!