Ospreyshire Origins: Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone

Lyrics:
Madame CJ Walker, you weren’t the first lady of that honor
You were a former client of her
From Metropolis, Illinois to St. Louis, then to the Second City was the first beauty expert of her time
Hair, face, hands
All became better with Malone’s expertise for those with melanin
She built a college just for cosmetology
Despite $14 million in her prime, you stole those formulas
Women of all colors benefited from the Poro Brand
CJ…or is it Sarah?
You’d be nothing without Annie
She lost her business, but she won’t be lost in history anymore

No woman can be attractive
Without a beautiful complexion and an innovative mind


That’s right, everyone. Madame CJ Walker was NOT the first African-American female millionaire!

The first was none other than Annie Malone hailing from the tiny Southern Illinois town of Metropolis. She was an entrepreneur who started her own beauty and personal care business with the Poro company. Malone made so many products for different uses and she eventually opened her own cosmetology which also made her the first black owner and founder of a beauty school in America. She was charitable, opened a community center for the youth, and helped out her neighborhoods when she lived in Chicago. Unfortunately, Walker literally stole Poro formulas and made her own business, became rich, and more popular than Malone which is so tragic. I doubt they’re going to talk about that in that upcoming CJ Walker movie with Octavia Spencer.

Annie, even though I could care less about the beauty industry (the fact I have a Y chromosome is certainly the biggest reason why), but I respect you for doing for self and for giving back to the community. You deserved so much better.

I would like to give major props to Kreb for introducing me to this beauty pioneer on one of his blog posts. Dude, you’re great and I learned a ton from this post and others from you.

Fun fact about her birthplace: Metropolis is the only town of that namesake in America and it became the “official” hometown of the Superman character. There’s a museum of Superman in that town and the real life Metropolis, IL was even featured in a comic issue where Supes actually has to save it from danger. Also, this would make me second only to Sufjan Stevens who namedropped that town in a song. Hahaha!

The picture of Annie Malone is from The Freeman Institute.

Ospreyshire Origins: About A Benjamin III: Boardley, not Bradley

Lyrics:
I didn’t care anymore how my last name was spelled after my time on earth
Just know that I was an innovator people haven’t heard of
My family and I were in bondage in the Old Line State
Whenever I could, I’d learn from the children of my captors
That education would come to use
Printer offices and the Naval Academy would see my intellect
Too bad my captors got most of my pay
My greatest achievement involved gun barrels, pewter, steel, and random junk
With this mechanical trash came the first steam engine
My patent was denied even when my brainchild bought my family’s freedom
Don’t deny my innovations

By the way, steampunks. You’re ever so welcome.


This concludes my About A Benjamin trilogy on my Dear Innovare album. This final entry involves Benjamin Bradley. Excuse me…Benjamin Boardley. I will address him as such because his name was misspelled on the various texts and history books, so I want to get his name right. Mr. Boardley over here was a former slave from Maryland who would eventually help in that state’s naval academy while inventing things. His biggest invention was the steam engine. That was a MASSIVE innovation at the time which made so many vehicles and machinery more powerful for decades until petroleum would take over. Think about it, so many inventions spun out of just one engine that he created. Much like other tracks, he wasn’t allowed to patent his innovative engine due to the color of his skin (while others tried to steal his invention in the process), but he was able to use the sales of his engine to buy the rest of the Boardleys away from slavery which is very admirable. Benjamin Boardley is a man worth respecting.

That last line of the track is totally a dig against that subculture. How ironic that so many stories utilizing that aesthetic involve a majority or totally of white characters, but their environments were built around the inventions of a black man. Let that sink in, people. Know your roots even when it comes to fiction.

The picture of Benjamin Boardley (not Bradley) is from Recovery Team.

Ospreyshire Origins: Scraping for Blanched Crops

Lyrics:

There was always a lie
That someone of my complexion never invented anything
They surely never met me
I was known only as Ned
I created the cotton scraper
Much like how my master took humans like me, he took my invention
So, Stewart. How did you come up with my scraper again?
Even the patent office rejected you again and again
You’re so typical in your laziness
When I cried, sweated, and bled more than you could imagine


This would certainly count for a good portion of the previous tracks on Dear Innovare, but this is still a good way to honor an unknown inventor to kick off Black History Month!

Even though he would only be known by the name “Ned”, I’m still going to give him credit and recognition when most people won’t. Ned was a slave who invented a cotton scraper. Think about it, cotton was king in the south which made the plantation owners multi-millionaires. Too bad their lazy butts couldn’t innovate let alone work on their own, so guess who had to do everything and not get the credit? His captor Stewart literally stole Ned’s idea and tried to patent it himself. This was during the time where black people couldn’t patent anything legally in America (expect this to be a common motif), but Stewart couldn’t prove that he invented this money-making machine. Shame how much money was denied for Ned who was the REAL inventor of that agricultural device.

Here’s a fun fact about recording: I actually used a fork to scrape against a vent for the acousmatics.

Representation Matters Pt. IV: That One Time When I Felt Inspired By an Indie Pro Wrestling Show Of All Things (Yes, Really.)

Here’s one of the most out of left field posts I’ve ever done regardless of my Representation Matters series. Feel free to check out my older posts with parts 1, 2, and 3.

This post might give some people whiplash if they know anything about me. I wouldn’t blame you if you raised an eyebrow. I’m actually going to talk about pro wrestling on this blog. Yes, even I’m shocked, too. Think about it, I, Curtis AKA Ospreyshire…an avant-garde spoken word artist/musician, film critic of random obscure international films/anime/documentaries, DIY author who writes deconstructive fiction, geography nerd, African history/culture enthusiast, and someone who likes a good amount of art that could be considered “highbrow” actually has an interest in the indie pro wrestling scene even if I don’t consider myself super knowledgeable about it. Before I get to the core of this article, let me clarify a few things.

1. I know it’s a pre-scripted and predetermined form of entertainment.
2. People have no right calling it “fake” when they watch reality shows let alone movies or other TV programs. Besides, even real sports events have had moments of being rigged/fixed like boxing and MMA at times.
3. It’s stage combat and one could make a case pro wrestlers are actors who do their own stunts with no chance to re-edit the videos if you really think about it.
4. I’m not a fan of WWE especially currently, and I’ll get into that later in this post.
5. Yes, I know there can be stupid stuff in pro wrestling which causes me to facepalm, but don’t act like your interests are lacking in idiocy at times.
6. I also have a small affinity for some real sports outside of this field, thank you very much.

My interests really are eclectic even if it seems random or partially contradictory, right? Hahahaha! 😛

My history with pro wrestling is a strange one. I wasn’t allowed to watch it when I was a child, and I grew up around the time when it was insanely popular with WCW and back when WWE was called WWF (The pandas would win against Vince McMahon in that lawsuit in the early 00s!). Some of the biggest names at the time were the NWO, Sting, Stone Cold Steve Austin, DX, and The Rock long before he became a Hollywood household name. I knew the names of a bunch of them, but I never watched it. Of course, I also grew up during the time when Macho Man Randy Savage was in those Slim Jim commercials, so these wrestlers were everywhere despite not seeing these TV shows or live events. I had friends and eventually coworkers who were knee deep in that interest and they would tell me about a bunch of things even to this day, so I had some knowledge even if it was secondhand. Some online reviewers I used to watch made some videos about this subject from time to time, so I had a tiny bit of familiarity early in my adulthood.

For those who follow Iridium Eye, some of you might remember me reviewing the documentary Eddie Dennis: A 5 Year Old’s Dream last year. It was part of my portfolio of atypical topics I’ve covered in documentary form on the blog like how I’ve also reviewed Paralympic fencers (Beatrice), the Asexual community ((A)sexual), or an experimental band who uses faith-based lyrics while wearing matching nurse/doctors outfits (Danielson: A Family Movie) just to name a few. Eddie Dennis is a Welsh wrestler who used to work as a math teacher at a boarding school (I’m not making this up). He quit his job to wrestle full-time and he eventually got a contract last year. It was an interesting watch even though it wasn’t my favorite film, but it opened up a rabbit hole into this immersion of the UK indie wrestling scene AKA BritWres over the past several months where I was exposed to multiple smaller feds and indie wrestlers. That’s how it got started. I was then exposed to the Nottingham-based promotion Wrestling Resurgence in my research. They do all their shows in art galleries and museums. One of the owners is also a university professor who has an immense background in avant-garde art, ballet, and theater. I can’t make any of this up to save my life. I saw some matches from that company and liked what I saw. The thing that REALLY caught my eye involved just two words…

Everything Patterned.

Everything Patterned Picture

This was a show curated by South Londoner wrestler “Big Wavy” Roy Johnson. Everything Patterned was a major event of it’s kind since it involved a majority black card featuring wrestlers from England, America, Jamaica, and Uganda. This was to commemorate Black History Month in the UK where it’s celebrated in October (How come they get more days than us in America who only celebrate it in February even when the UK has a smaller black population compared to the US?). It was considered a big marketing risk, but the event was sold out when it was hosted in Leicester. I bought a digital copy of the show from their Vimeo page (the link is above the poster image) and thought it was great by seeing this positive representation going on. The matches were fun. It was awesome seeing the Rhio/Blaze match and seeing two strong women who are talented athletes that don’t resort to ratchet behavior. The main event between Johnson and Rampage Brown (not featured since he was a last-minute replacement for the then-injured O.J.M.O.) was a great heavyweight match where it was two guys fighting and you can take them seriously. There wasn’t an ounce of buffoonery in the headlining match. The Omari/Warren Banks match was insane in athletic prowess and would put so many cruiserweights to shame. Both of them are roughly 6’4″ and can pull off moves that one would expect only shorter wrestlers to do. I know the bloggers who know about my taste in movies are going to notice this, and I’m going to say this right now. No! I surprisingly didn’t freak out when one of the tag team matches involved a team called The Lion Kings. Long story short: One of the members of the LKs actually thanked me for telling him about Kimba the White Lion or how bogus Disney was with the Hakuna Matata trademark when I emailed him and we had a great discussion about Africa. There were serious moments, some funny moments, and some good in-ring action. It was a breath of fresh air not seeing any racist stereotypes or shucking and jiving going on like multiple cases of mainstream wrestling. Vince McMahon wouldn’t have the balls to pull something like this off (Yeah, I said it!). I wish nothing but success to everyone involved. It would also be phenomenal if at least one of the wrestlers from the Everything Patterned show could start their own promotion/federation in the near future.

Here are the videos that promoted the event as well as highlighting different perspectives of representation among other important factors in the context of wrestling.

Roy Johnson:

The O. J. M. O.:

Chakara:

Darius Lockhart:

Sugar Dunkerton [Context: Kofi Kingston was still holding the WWE World Championship at the time it was filmed]:

I found their insights to be quite fascinating and I legitimately never thought about those things in that realm of athletic entertainment. Sugar Dunkerton’s video about Kofi really hit it home when it came to why representation matters with that Ghanaian wrestler being the first (fully) black WWE World Champion. I’m not counting The Rock since he always hypes up is Samoan lineage constantly and only talks about his black side when he does a movie with Kevin Hart, but I digress (and this is coming from a guy who also would be considered biracial!). I know this is an unrelated video, but Dunkerton also made an awesome video with such brutal truth to it. If you’re black, then you will DEFINITELY relate to this video. If you’re not, then consider this a moment of learning and I’m not just talking about how the word “urban” can be a dog whistle term that’s offensive.

Suge D, you kept it so real. This also transitions into my point about how there’s racist crap that still goes on to this day in wrestling. Exhibit A: ACH FKA Jordan Myles. ACH is a black wrestler who made his career in the indies and eventually got signed to NXT (WWE’s developmental system kind of like a AAA minor league feeder promotion to make a sports comparison). He went under the name Jordan Myles and eventually got this T-shirt with his now former WWE moniker in 2019. Weeks after Everything Patterned, this T-shirt would prove Resurgence’s supporters and the wrestlers involved right in realizing why a show like this was needed…

View image on Twitter

DO YOU SEE WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?!?

That t-shirt just SCREAMS minstrel show imagery! The fact that they pitched this to a black wrestler by masquerading it in a white and gray design before publishing it in black is maddening. This is the same crap that got Gucci and Prada in trouble in recent years when they tried that with the racist blackface sweater and sambo figurines respectively. ACH blasted them on Twitter and eventually quit working for the WWE. I know that company knows better. While some could argue that ACH could’ve handled the situation better, he had every right to put the WWE on blast for doing such a stupid and bigoted stunt. I applaud him for standing up for himself even when that company shifted the blame onto him for the whole thing. It’s bigotry like this that made me sigh in relief that I never spent a penny on their product. Besides, I don’t even like Raw or Smackdown. I’m not even watching NXT or even NXT UK (Sorry, Eddie) because of this garbage. I’ll save whatever fun money I have on promotions treat their roster with dignity regardless of color/creed/gender/etc. and for various indie wrestlers.

Sorry that this was a strange post given what I usually talk about or the things I create. I wanted to let you know how I was unexpectedly inspired by a UK wrestling show of all things. I actually bought some merch from some of the people in Everything Patterned and not only that, but I even got into fitness far more often as an indirect result. My December goals in exercising have been working so far and I already feel healthier. If you would have asked me years ago that I would make a post like this anywhere on the net, then I would’ve called you insane.

With all that being said, I thought it was amazing seeing someone like me being taken seriously in this field. I’m getting healthier, I’m slowly gaining self-esteem, and my sense of well-being has improved so far. So what if some people would insult me because of this recent interest? This was something inspiring in ways I didn’t even imagine.

Thank you, Wrestling Resurgence and everyone involved with Everything Patterned.

I hope you liked my journey explaining the different facets of my Representation Matters series on the Ospreyshire blog. Thank you for reading this and my other posts on the subject.

All images and videos are of “fair use”.

The Everything Patterned videos are courtesy of Wrestling Resurgence’s YouTube page.

SUGE. Number 3. is property of Sugar Dunkerton’s YouTube page.

The photo of Roy Johnson is from Twitter and is property of Wrestling Resurgence.

The Everything Patterned poster is from Vimeo and is property of Wrestling Resurgence.

The Jordan Myles T-shirt is from Bleacher Report and property of the WWE.

Proving My Humanity

This is just a personal post that I felt a bit compelled to write.

I’ve been talking about some harsh subjects with some friends and some fellow bloggers especially when it came to race. No, the fact that this is Black History Month was entirely irrelevant although one could argue with it being unintentional subtext.

Some of you that have read some of my previous posts may have seen me mention about reading some historical subjects especially when it comes to Black and Native American history. It was shocking with all the things I’ve read about that were well-researched and it frustrates me how a lot of this stuff isn’t talked about in history books. Race relations and multiculturalism are subjects that’s been in my heart for a while.

It has showed up in so many of my blogs. For example, I got video of a biracial poet who talked about growing up as a minority on Autumn Peal Media and Vimeo. In Iridium Eye, I’ve reviewed multiple documentaries dealing with that subject and I’ve reviewed movies that have anti-racist metaphors. With my fiction projects that I’ve publicly shown and the ones I haven’t revealed yet. I enjoy using protagonists of all ethnic groups in several stories because I like diverse casts, writing characters that break stereotypes, and I would love it if some reader says “This is awesome! This hero is well-written and looks like me!”. If that happens, I’ve done my job. Well, that and not making race the main crux of a plot. People should write characters of a certain ethnic group and not an ethnic character. There’s a huge difference.

I had a conversation with a friend where I opened up some of my feelings of having self-hatred. I’ve been bullied during my younger years and part of it was because of some racial stuff later on in life. Whenever I call them out, they get so defensive and are full of denial. Every day (even today), I’ve felt like I had to prove my humanity to show that I’m just as competent as most people. More often than not, I had to work multiple jobs and study harder than anyone else to show that I’m a human worthy of respect and dignity. It does give me hope that my friends see me as someone worthy and they were able to listen to me.

Granted, I’m far from perfect and I’ve certainly stumbled. I have been slowly beginning to love myself even though it’s been a gradual process. Blogging in all of my pages has given me more confidence and a chance to show my knowledge in multiple subjects.

Sorry for rambling, everyone. Thanks for reading this.