On Saturday, June 23, 2012, nearly two dozen Chicago residents—including four small children—were shot in Millenium Park. The lone shooter, an African-American woman in her 30s, also shot herself. Eyewitnesses in the park that afternoon were too overwhelmed with shock to provide immediate comment on the brazen shooting; a scene of this magnitude had never been seen in the city prior, particularly in the world-renowned downtown tourist epicenter. Only now are photos from that day finally being released for public viewing.
Two rebel creative artists and activists, Sandria Washington and Pilar Audain-Reed, are responsible for organizing the big hit. In a surprising twist of events, no lives were lost. On that day, only a few tired media stereotypes, insecurities and negative images were laid to rest. Welcome to "Gele Day 2012".
While national media is
celebrating observing Chicago's 500th life lost to violence in 2012, I'm thankful for the ability to share photos of an amazing celebration of life, beauty and community during this auspicious time. This photoshoot began as a simple vision to showcase the natural beauty of Black women and reinforce for ourselves and the world that true beauty radiates from the inside out. Myself, along with Pilar Audain-Reed, blogger and owner of Kreative Soul Boutique, desired to show that we embody confidence, sisterhood, family -- parts of our story that DON'T make mainstream media as readily as negativity (thankfully, this was not a "real" shooting).
More than a fashion trend, headwrapping and wearing the traditional gele also has cultural and historical significance. For Gele Day, we released our fears of looking different and of trying something new, called a truce between #TeamNatural, #TeamWeave and all our other devisive and distracting hair issues, and instead rocked our "towers of power" proudly in unity. May these photos inspire more women to do the same and join us in 2013.
Special thanks to our photographer, Stacy Patrice of Fourth Eye Photographics and StacyPatrice.com, and everyone that participated to make this day a success.