2023 | FIGURATIVE COLLAGE SERIES | RICE PAPER, GOLD INK, EMBROIDERY THREAD
THE BURDEN OF REPRESENTATION
Sapphire is derogatory slang for emasculating, loud, angry, stubborn, aggressive & unfeminine black women.
When my dad was young and in the air force he was stationed in Germany for a few years. He really took to food, culture and the locals - dating a handful of german girls through the years. At the time, a common “nickname” for black women was sapphire and the women he dated weren’t shy about using it. He liked to tell the stories about his days in Germany eating braunschweiger on toast and mastering the language, never leaving out the ugly sapphire bit. He was always pleased to share the ugly sapphire bit. Because the stories always ended with how they wanted to get married and be whisked off to America with him. But he told each one, “Sorry, I’m going home to marry sapphire”. He didn’t see the term as ugly, just as he didn’t see black women as ugly. It was ironic to him - to make a beautiful stone the symbol of a derogatory idea.
Years later he met my mother, he proposed to her with a gold banded, sapphire stone ring.