Above is a selection of images by Miami-born, DC-trained Aisha Jemila Daniels. These photographs are part of a large body of work titled "Afrikans". Aisha’s own words explain it best and presents an impactful story that no editorial could match.
Afrikans is an extensive photographic project on my documentation of indigenous black people of Afrikan descent throughout the Afrikan continent and her diaspora. English Globalization/Britainization/ Westernization or white supremacy has contaminated the aesthetic mentality of black people and the other races surrounding them. Everyone wants to be “modernized” or embrace their absolute whiteness. With learning someone else’s language that person accepts the culture that comes with that language. In this case, Afrikans not only want to eat, sleep, and breathe like the Westerner, but put a great emphasis on looking like him. English Globalization or Westernization has de-territorialized the Afrikan continent and the transplanted blacks around the world- allowing the Westerner to oppress and marginalize them. Thus, controlling their economics, businesses, markets, politics, education systems and their image. The image is the most important- image is everything.
Hence forth, as a photographer I am a historian, I have control over the images the future generations of black children are exposed to. The Western media fails to have an accurate perception of blacks, which contributes to the challenges of self-hatred the Afrikan suffers through. The purpose of my “Afrikans” project is to restore the authentic and royal image of Afrikans. I will only photograph them in traditional Afrikan or Diasporic Afrikan attire with a profound amount of energy that radiates pure confidence and pride. My project is love, the love of self especially. Afrikans have been suffering through tribal warfare since the beginning of civilization and it only has gotten worse since the Westerner came with his divide and concur concept. Essentially, my work aspires to bring unification amongst us black people. It is vital for us to see the similarities between us physically and culturally no matter where we are in the world. I've seen black Arabs in the UAE that look just like black men in Washington, DC. One wears a kandura, the other one wears jeans and a t-shirt. When I was in Oman, the brothers and sisters there thought I was Omani... When I was in Saudi Arabia and then Egypt a few months ago, people from both countries were convinced I was from there. It is incredible to witness how the black people dance in Saudi Arabia is almost the same as they would in Ghana. We all have this common foundation, which I believe is Afrika, and hopefully, my project visually expresses that for the black masses. Thus far, I have completed my series entitled “Afrikans in America” of 2014-2015 and now “Afrikans in the Middle East” of 2015-2016.
Moreover, I aim to facilitate Afrikans in rewriting their history in order to emphasize the Afrikan presence, the impact, and the truth of indigenous, colonized indigenous, and transplanted black cultures within the world. My ultimate goal is to promote a lifetime of discovery and research for my Afrikan people—this too corresponds with more Afrikans writing about Afrikan art—to restore memory, authenticity and correctness, which should evolve naturally while in the pursuit of knowledge. Essentially, I aspire to bring about cultural understanding and appreciation for the Afrikan people of the world and while doing this stimulating growth for myself in my intellectual ability and my artistry.
— Aisha Jemila Daniels
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