Stargazing

  • Jamaica, NY
  • Early 1960s

Scrapbook page.

Notes: This is a page from a scrapbook mostly filled with certificates and awards related to school and music activities and some photos as well. It looked like the kind of thing one of Umi’s parents might have put together, which made this page unique with its cutouts and tape – it looks like something she would have done as an adolescent. Since I grew up in a household where white Barbies couldn't darken the doorstep, I was shocked to see this page of stars/heartthrobs had only one Black person. Of course, Black musicians and artists didn’t dominate mainstream US pop culture in the early 60s as they do now. As I was reviewing the page, one of the star-shaped cutouts fell to reveal the smiling faces of three young white women on its backside. Seeing that brought into high relief who the desired audience for these stars were in comparsion to who Umi was (the cutout of Umi was not in the scrapbook, but was shared with me by her childhood friend, Violet Avery). All of this put together gave me a new understanding and appreciation for my uber pro-Black upbringing.