Juneteenth 2023: Cheers to Freedom & Decadence
This year, in addition to our special edition Juneteenth 2023 collection (pictured below), I am sharing an extra special message about the importance of artistry in the history of freedom for African-Americans.
Juneteenth will always be an extra special holiday for Odelia, Marie, & Patrice. It marks the history and remembrance of freedom and joy for African-Americans in the United States–on many levels. The main ingredients in this historical recipe is that on June 19th, 1865 (and years to come) freedom for Black people in the United States (U.S.) was nationally recognized. One special outcome of this historical recipe for greatness that we don’t often speak about is the seasoning that Black artisans added to the taste of the U.S. economy in the coming years after freedom.
As you can gather from the above analogy, recipes are big for Odelia, Marie, & Patrice (OMandP). If you’ve tried our products or heard me speak of them then you know I care a great deal about decadence. I fully recognize this decadence did not start with me, it’s a feeling and knowledge of artistry that has been passed down from generation to generation with no real celebration or recognition. This Juneteenth I'd like to recognize that essence and give praise to the era of artisans that came from the opportunity for freedom in the late 1800s.
Did you know that the first “middle class” for African Americans in the U.S. were artisans by profession?
Neither did I until I read this vital and informative article written by James E. Newton when I was in search of the history of soap-making in the U.S. In the academic article, titled Slave Artisans and Craftsmen: The Roots of Afro-American Art, the different types of jobs that Black artisans worked were mentioned, like ship builders, jewelers, blacksmiths, and so many more. According to this detail of history these skills were a part of daily tasks of some skilled slaves in plantation life. These skilled workers were said to have lived with a slight advantage on the plantation because they had an artisan skill that allowed them to take jobs off of the plantation and to earn extra money (which was split with the plantation owner at their discretion).
You might wonder, why would it be important to know or have these skills as a slave?
The answer is that the diversification of skill sets allowed for varied amounts of work and income when eventually freed. After being freed, Black artisans (of all trades) were able leverage their skills and abilities to gain more income due to their knowledge and craftsmanship. Thus, according to Newton they earned more and became the first middle class population in the U.S.
Dope right?! Literally artistry and creativity has been an outlet for economic growth in the Black community in the U.S. since the 1800s and beyond.
The reason this Black artisan history is so important to acknowledge on this Juneteenth is because we’ve seen artistry/creativity continue to allow for economic freedom of Black people ‘til this day. During the pandemic a record number of Black people started businesses to create financial freedom for themselves. A great amount of these businesses were artisans offering a skill, product, and/or trade.
On this Juneteenth 2023, we must recognize artisans of the past and present and how creativity and decadence that has been passed down continues to allow opportunity for freedom to Black people in the U.S.. After all, Odelia, Marie, & Patrice (3 generations of artisans in various ways) is a direct example of this type of unspoken generational transfer of artisan skill sets. Gladys “Odelia”, my grandmother, was an amazing cook and also was an award-winning Avon saleswoman. My mother, Joyce “Marie” who is a math genius, also was a board certified nail technician and had many clients in the 90’s who would come to our apartment to get their gorgeous full sets. I, Candace “Patrice”, have carried on the tradition of artistry in pursuing an advanced degree influenced by visual communication and also creating OMandP–an activism-forward and eco-luxury self-care company.
During this celebration, I would love to encourage BIPOC to research their family histories and identify how artistry and creativity may have been involved in the family working lineage. Let’s continue to uncover, highlight, and communicate our (hidden) histories!
Cheers to the first artisan populations in the U.S. which have allowed me to rise up on that foundation and create success for Odelia, Marie, & Patrice today! 🤎
Founder of Odelia, Marie, & Patrice