Hey, do me a favor and do a quick Google search for "flapper girls 1920s" and then come to back to this blog post...
I'm assuming you're back since you're reading this next sentence. If you're being a little rebel and decided to miss the chance of being a mini-history detective, I guess I'll tell ya what ya missed. If you google flapper girls 1920s, you see women dressed in short skirts, jewels, revealing a lot of skin for this time. Without a doubt, these images are gorgeous, and the women are flawless. I wish I had the effort and energy to dress that well every day. My typical outfit is jeans and a t-shirt. I may toss on some yoga pants or leggings here and there to keep folks on their toes. I barely want to change out of Pj's most of the time! Anyways, where was I? Oh, the Google search. Google's algorithm is way off. If we considered the era of the Flapper Girl movement, it coincides with this "little" period in history known as the Harlem Renaissance. Now, if I specifically type in African American, Black Flapper girls, or search the Harlem Renaissance, then I see images of those often subconsciously and intentionally not pictured in history. As my They Did Exist entry, I am shedding light on the "forgotten."
There are many clickable links in this entry to learn more!
Since I only gave myself a few days to dive into this research, I could not go as deep as I wanted. I wasn't sure what route I wanted to take. With so much creativity and impact during in this era, it was tough for me to narrow down my research. So, I'm going to dive into a little bit of every topic that I couldn't decide on. The 1920s and 30s was an era of censorship, consciousness, and expression. I couldn't decide if I wanted to speak on the underground bars and clubs owned by African Americans such as The Hurricane Lounge, which according to one source, Ms. Anna Simmons "Birdie" Dunlap, opened an after-hours club in Pittsburg, 1939. The club thrived more in the 1950s and '60s, according to the images I came across.
I was going to focus on the massive amount of art from this period, but I could ramble on that topic to the point where I'll have a thesis at the end. Here’s a resource I came across that mentions quite a few Black artist; many I’ve never heard of. I will highlight Mr. Archibald J. Motley briefly since his paintings are some of my favorites, next to Ernie Barnes (The mastermind behind the Good Times painting). Motley's work really captured the black urban nightlife during this time. I have to mention Mr. James Van Der Zee too! His photographs document Black life in Harlem. Below are some of my favorite pieces by these gentlemen. Image credit goes to the Williams College Museum of Art and The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. I hope to visit these institutions during better times.
Archibald J. Motley
James Van Der Zee
Initially, I was going to focus on the women who rebelled against the traditional fashion and social norms, such as Ms. Josephine Baker, or some other uncommon performers or dancers I found while doing this quick research. Ms. Ethel Waters career definitely blew me away, and a dedicated entry to the phenomenal women of that time is worthy. However, my initial plan changed when my google search presented its stereotyped algorithm. I couldn't focus on the Flapper Girls Movement without mentioning the rise of Jazz and Jukeboxes, or the New Negro Movement, or any of the many contributions the Black community added to this rich part of history. You can not mention one without mentioning the other. As I said, so much occurred during the Roaring twenties and the fact that Google doesn't showcase any of the melanin-nated contributions unless one specifically looks for it is infuriating.
Google's racist algorithm is not a new issue, and I was very well aware of it before my weekend history quest.
You would think I'm accustomed to it by now, but I will never get used to the attempts of obliteration.