Photo Credit: @thelandofmilkandhoney
Alexander-Julian's Latest Work Looks To Combat Erasure Of Afro-Colombian Culture
Alexander-Julian Gibbson is back with a new installment of The Land of Milk and Honey, this time highlighting Afro-Colombian culture. The series, which the NYC-based creative content specialist and editor dubs “an audit of the American dream,” shares the stories of immigrant families of color through photo essays and interviews. Originally from Houston, Alexander-Julian was inspired to create the series through his culture and community.
“Growing up in a strong Nigerian community in America helped me connect with my culture back home,” said Alexander-Julian. “It was a hub for Nigerian people, food, parties, everything; so it felt like my little piece of Lagos in America. I wanted to highlight those other little pockets of culture in the states.”
For Hispanic Heritage Month, Alexander-Julian, along with Dior Rodriguez, Camila Falquez, and Orly Anan, wanted to highlight Afro-Colombians with a collection of photos and a short film celebrating Latin dance and music through the lens of what it means to be Black and of Hispanic and Latin descent.
This edition of The Land of Milk and Honey takes viewers inside a scene inspired by an authentic Colombian social club, capturing an Afro-Colombian family, musicians, dancers, and creatives in New York City moving to the sounds of Maraca Bruja.
“A large part of the project in its simplest sense is to combat erasure, and so I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate a demographic that is often erased despite their countless contributions to their heritage. Afro-Latinx stories are a vital part of Latinx stories as a whole, and it’s important that their stories are told in the same way.”
Alexander-Julian hopes the project will bring to light the contributions that many Afro-Latinx and Hispanic people have made to their cultures, and create a space to celebrate their heritage so that Black people can see themselves in it and feel included.
“I’m constantly learning throughout this project; about people’s struggles, histories, and successes, and I’ve seen a common thread of resilience that is awe-inspiring to say the least.”
One of the models featured in the project is Geordette, an NYC-based Afro-Colombian originally from Cartagena. A photographer, dancer, model, and art lover, Geordette always makes sure that the world sees her as a woman who is proud of her roots.
“I am a girl who’s in love with her culture. I’m passionate, cheerful, and have well-marked the patterns that characterize an Afro-Colombian woman. I was born in Cartagena, Colombia, and lived there through my childhood. It’s a place I return to when I need to find my true self. I’m a model, photographer, dancer, and I sing as a hobby. I like to learn and am proud to be Black and from the coast.”
Representing her culture as part of The Land of Milk and Honey was of significance to Geordette for a number of reasons. For one, it gave her the opportunity to help dispel stereotypes and misconceptions people have regarding Afro-Colombian culture.
“On many occasions, people emphasize that we are the country of drugs and easy women, thanks to the past. That condemns us and continues to weigh on us year after year. My job as a Colombian is to highlight that I am not one of those people that the past misrepresents; that I also have a yellow, blue, and red face and don’t have drugs in my pocket. I bring joy in the heart, I bring flavor in the blood, and I bring the power of my ancestors.”
The project also allowed Geordette to help highlight Colombian culture in its maximum splendor. For several months now, she had been wanting to be a part of a project that did just that. And as fate would have it, she was presented with the opportunity to participate in something that really was much more than just a project to her.
“It was a wish that I can mark with a green check and feel very proud to have been part of something so pure. I imagined myself dancing and sharing with people who really have a lot in their hearts and a lot of passion to give, one of the most important characteristics of Colombians. Feeling the drum, a voice that reminds me how beautiful it is to get lost in Santa Marta in Tayrona Park, dance until you sweat, and feel ecstatic from the fatigue combined with the energy of the people.”
Geordette hopes people viewing the project will feel inspired, and realize the true beauty of Colombia as a country, as well as Afro-Colombians as a people.
“I hope that when people view it, they fill themselves with all the energy that all the members put in to make this project a reality. Let them realize that our culture is rich in love and flavor, and that I personally would also love to learn a little about the culture of their countries, as well. We are all part of a tribe, and this is mine.”
You can view the the project on Instagram at @thelandofmilkandhoney.