I thought I should have a post for Black History Month, so I thought I would share a link with you. There have been so many African-American inventors that people haven’t heard of. Sadly, you had inventions stolen by the dominant society even after slavery. There have been so many inventions like cotton scrapers, folding beds, yellow traffic lights, filaments, moving blood banks, and video game cartridges to name a few. Feel free to check out the article.
I just saw this impactful video done by British indie pro wrestler “Big Wavy” Roy Johnson. In less than a minute, he really breaks it down on how privilege works without even saying a word and just letting a recording to emphasize this point. You can even do this real time by holding all your fingers up and seeing how many of them are still up at the end of the video. Major props, Big Wavy!
Also, he’s the main person responsible for Wrestling Resurgence’s Everything Patterned show which was their Black History Month project last October (that’s when the UK celebrates BHM as opposed to America celebrating in America). That show surprisingly inspired me so much with not just the matches, but the positive representation going on. What does that say when a small British indie federation did something more racially progressive in the context of pro wrestling than anything in America? Let that sink in. Recently, the proceeds of the Everything Patterned video ($3.23 to rent or $6.46 to buy) will go to BLM in solidarity with those against the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many more. Here’s a link to that show.
Also, here’s the match between Roy Johnson and Rampage Brown if you’re interested.
I would never meet my captor’s grandson, but I can only thank him from the beyond as he put my name on the record
Shame on this country for not realizing my brainpower and physical endurance
Robert, Cyrus, you know it’s true
The reaper wouldn’t exist without me
I guess people like me are used to doing all the heavy lifting
1834 saw the birth of this new tool
However, the McCormick’s names were on it
Cyrus II, you did what you could to make things right
I may have been a slave, but I was still an inventor
I’m from the smaller cities and from suburbs, so I don’t have an appreciation for agriculture as much as I should. This has certainly have been changing doing all this research for Dear Innovare. This also goes into my portfolio of “things you didn’t know were invented by African-Americans” that I only knew about fairly recently. Jo Anderson was a slave who invented the reaper which was used to get crops easier and faster. Unfortunately, he could patent because…oh you all should know the reason why after checking out some of my previous installments of Ospreyshire Origins.
This is Robert and his son Cyrus McCormick respectively. These slavers stole Jo Anderson’s idea and took it as their own for the McCormick business. Even though they are originally from Virginia, they eventually moved to Chicago. What I didn’t realize until recently, they were one of the most powerful families in the Windy City. Have you ever heard of the McCormick Place in Chicago? The same place with the Chicago Auto Show, major conventions, and is the largest convention center in the entire North American continent? Yeah, it’s named after this family! Just think about that when you think about that foundation. I’m glad Cyrus II eventually credited Jo, but the real inventor of the reaper deserved far better.
The image of Jo Anderson is from Mysterious Chicago Tours.
The image of Robert McCormick is from Wikipedia.
The Image of Cyrus McCormick is from Wikipedia.
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.
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.
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.
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.