The Color Theory: Embrace Your Culture for Black History

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

As we all know, February is Black History Month. With racial injustice being brought to national attention within the past year, this time around feels a lot more important compared to recent years.

Said best by N’dea Yancey-Bragg of USA Today, “Black History Month recognizes the contributions African-Americans have made to this country throughout time. Specifically this year, on a national scale, we reflect on the continued struggle of racial injustice.”

For those interested, how did we get here?

Early Beginnings

The story of Black History Month dates back to 1915, almost fifty years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The founding fathers of this celebration, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, were dedicated to promote accomplishments made by African-Americans. They wanted these newly profound leaders to embrace their culture, while being put on a higher pedestal for the whole world to see. 

Photo: Matheus Viana – Pexels

Before 1976, Black History Month was “Black History Week” – formerly known as National Negro History Week, residing between Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays (who were important advocates of black lives).

Rising philosophers and leaders in the civil rights movement (such as Malcolm X, John Lewis, James Meredith, and Martin Luther King Jr.) brought awareness of the Black identity. Thus, evolving “Negro History Week” into the modern Black History Month.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Today’s Impact

As said in my previous post, we started this whole pandemic with lots of uncertainty. But there seems to be a forecast of hope on the horizon. With heartbreaking events, such as the death of George Floyd and many other countless names, became eye-opening for our nation. This year’s celebration, the on-going focus is heavily reflective of last summer’s Black Lives Matter Movement.

Although some may argue, just this year alone, this particular “reflection” is overly emphasized. Somebody once told me recently, “Well, why are people finally recognizing our struggles now? Why are people finally bringing up this issue after so many decades of pain?”

I hear you, my friend. But recognizing this issue now is better than never. We were bound to face the issues of police brutality, racism in the workplace, ignorance, and every injustice the black community has dealt with throughout the history of this country.

Nichelle Smith of USA Today agrees, “The short answer: Forward. Through still-difficult times to the other, better side. There’s no going back to a “normal” that never worked well for Black people anyway.” 

Everyone has been through a lot this past year. What’s keeping us alive is for us to keep progressing and pushing forward as individuals.

Current Sting President and Editor-at-Large, Leonard Robinson, also agrees to my philosophical advice as said in his last post: “The big thing that happened? Humanity got better at simply…being alive”. To put it in perspective, every day (hopefully), we are becoming more tolerant to our neighbors.

Photo: Scott Olson – Getty Images (via NPR)

The Colors: Symbolize Through Wear

With this celebration going on now, and still in a worldwide pandemic, the most common way to express your heritage and “blackness” is to dress up for the culture.

Dressing in a way can be considered as a reflection of one’s cultural values and morals. Think of it symbolically: there’s a story or meaning behind certain colors and patterns.

The colors red, black, and green have always been associated with African-descent and used as the colorway for Black History Month – inspired from the iconic, Pan-American Flag (or known as the Black Liberation Flag). Said by NPR editor, Leah Donnella: “Red stood for blood — both the blood shed by Africans who died in their fight for liberation, and the shared blood of the African people. Black represented, well, black people. And green was a symbol of growth and the natural fertility of Africa.”

I’m not saying you should wear red, black, and/or green to support this national celebration – but only my suggestion. You could go even further into embracing your culture by wearing traditional wear, such as head wraps and fine prints.


Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, an influential fashion column.

Unavoidable chaos, unlimited beauty

By Nicole Hovermale

I have always been fascinated with India and the thought of hippie- era travelers wandering endlessly through this enchanting land. What would it be like to travel through the center of spiritualism, through a land that has held tight to its traditions instead of trying to emulate the West, and in a place known to spark inner awakenings in people?

In India, just a walk down the street is no simple feat as the senses are bombarded with every step. An explosion of colors—brightly dyed textiles hanging in shops, orange marigolds once hung from doors trampled into the asphalt, rainbows of fresh vegetables and ground spices, and beautifully decorated temples—infiltrates the eyes. The sweet aroma of fried jalebi and spiced masala tea mingles in the air with the smell of livestock and burning trash. The constant blare of car horns overpowers the ears, but has no luck drowning out the sharp ring of the temple’s cleansing bell or the sounds of musical chanting. An array of spices that electrify the taste buds with every bite are cooked into all kinds of culinary delights that can be tasted on every street corner. India isn’t a place to visit; it’s a place to experience.

Chaos is unavoidable in the overcrowded and often dirty streets of both large cities and small towns. Camel and horse- drawn carts plod along while the cars, trucks, and tuktuks zoom by bicycles, cows, and pedestrians, who often have no other choice than to walk in the road.
Chaos is unavoidable in the overcrowded and often dirty streets of both large cities and small towns. Camel and horse- drawn carts plod along while the cars, trucks, and tuktuks zoom by bicycles, cows, and pedestrians, who often have no other choice than to walk in the road.

 

Vendors sell their wares along a street in Old Delhi. The tangle of wires above them are not defunct; electricians in Delhi know perfectly well where each one leads.
Vendors sell their wares along a street in Old Delhi. The tangle of wires above them are not defunct; electricians in Delhi know perfectly well where each one leads.

 

A man gets his mustache trimmed at one of the makeshift barbershops set up on the sidewalk, which are commonplace in Indian streets.
A man gets his mustache trimmed at one of the makeshift barbershops set up on the sidewalk, which are commonplace in Indian streets.

 

Small shrines, sometimes built into walls in public places, are common throughout India. Ganesh, one of the most widely worshiped of the millions of Hindu gods, is also commonly found in household shrines. This elephant-headed god is said to bring good luck to his devotees.
Small shrines, sometimes built into walls in public places, are common throughout India. Ganesh, one of the most widely worshiped of the millions of Hindu gods, is also commonly found in household shrines. This elephant-headed god is said to bring good luck to his devotees.

 

Varanasi, considered the spiritual capital of India, is situated directly on the banks of the holy Ganga River. The old part of the city is a winding labyrinth of enclosed streets that lead out to the ghats, a series of steps that run along the riverbank. This particular street, lined with wood for the cremations, leads to one of the smaller burning ghats, were Hindu believers bring their deceased loved ones to be cleansed one last time in the river’s holy water and cremated in open air fires along the banks of the Ganga.
Varanasi, considered the spiritual capital of India, is situated directly on the banks of the holy Ganga River. The old part of the city is a winding labyrinth of enclosed streets that lead out to the ghats, a series of steps that run along the riverbank. This particular street, lined with wood for the cremations, leads to one of the smaller burning ghats, were Hindu believers bring their deceased loved ones to be cleansed one last time in the river’s holy water and cremated in open air fires along the banks of the Ganga.

 

Flowers are used all over India for both decoration and worship. Mari- golds are popular because of their rich orange hue, given the saffron color is sacred in Hinduism. These flowers were left at the base of a tree outside a Hindu temple.
Flowers are used all over India for both decoration and worship. Mari- golds are popular because of their rich orange hue, given the saffron color is sacred in Hinduism. These flowers were left at the base of a tree outside a Hindu temple.

 

Regarded as holy creatures, cows wander the streets freely and seem to fit right into the bustle of daily life. In some towns, shop owners feed the cows sugary sweets: other times cows can be seen feasting on trash. This particular cow seems to be looking for a healthy snack, but if it tries to eat off the vegetable stands it will quickly be shooed away, so it better stick to the discarded morsels on the ground.
Indian weddings are large gatherings, celebrated by many extended family members and friends, and tradition- ally can last up to eight days. This wedding was condensed into a couple days, with the American bride arriv- ing just days before the ceremony to shop for her wedding lehenga and sari. The lehenga is traditionally red, a color said to bring good luck, and is embellished with rhinestones, making this dress weigh almost 20 pounds. The main ceremony involved rituals, offerings to the Hindu gods, and an exchange of wedding vows in front of friends and family.

 

Regarded as holy creatures, cows wander the streets freely and seem to fit right into the bustle of daily life. In some towns, shop owners feed the cows sugary sweets: other times cows can be seen feasting on trash. This particular cow seems to be looking for a healthy snack, but if it tries to eat off the vegetable stands it will quickly be shooed away, so it better stick to the discarded morsels on the ground..
Regarded as holy creatures, cows wander the streets freely and seem to fit right into the bustle of daily life. In some towns, shop owners feed the cows sugary sweets: other times cows can be seen feasting on trash. This particular cow seems to be looking for a healthy snack, but if it tries to eat off the vegetable stands it will quickly be shooed away, so it better stick to the discarded morsels on the ground..

 

Rajasthan, also known as the Land of Kings, is home to the Thar Desert. Trekking out into the barren desert with camels, I was lucky to spend a night sleeping under the stars, eating around the campfire, and living life—if only for a moment—as a nomad.
Rajasthan, also known as the Land of Kings, is home to the Thar Desert. Trekking out into the barren desert with camels, I was lucky to spend a night sleeping under the stars, eating around the campfire, and living life—if only for a moment—as a nomad.