A Few Words with Inga Kimberly Brown
The inspiration for my work stems from my family. I use the stories of my families history and their experiences in life as well as their racially mixed heritage to speak about freedoms that I experience today. My inspiration comes from the stories of my grandmothers and my grandfathers and giving validity to their struggles as racially mixed people and those who were not racially mixed and were enslaved throughout the antebellum south. Those many family stories travel to Philadelphia were my mother’s maternal family migrated from Georgia. I think of my late maternal grandmother Mattie Beatrice Hicks- Minott and her mother who died at the young age of 24 years old in child birth, my great grandmother Marie Steel. I visualize them as beautiful young girls who were objects of man’s sexual desires before they knew themselves as women. Both had children so young and were un married and alone with their first baby and at the same time being babies themselves. My paternal family members still reside in North Carolina’s eastern coast. I combine the stories of my Free Issue, tri racial, mulatto (African, European, Native American) grandmothers and grandfathers who seem to be isolated in their heritage which included this history of only marrying other mix raced people from the 1700’s until the 1940’s as well my black grandparents who were not as isolated but were enslaved until they were emancipated in 1865. Those two groups that existed and survived in oppression are extremely interesting to me and my work. I listen to my elders as well as the spirits that guide my imagination in paint. My paternal grandmother Dorothy- Faye Brown tells me stories that are dense with the spirit of other ancestors today. The visions that I have of them help me expand my mind in location, time, race as well as emotion.
Why is The Colored Girls Museum important? The Colored Girls Museum is important just by name alone. The name narrates the position of black women in the United States. The word colored, in its description includes a ray of hues and complexions as well as hair textures, body shapes that are not limited to one example or description. The word colored is also a word used to describe a people that came from the African- Diaspora in the United States as well as other races mixed into one culture. In the many different racial labels that blacks been called in the United States to describe themselves or labels that others have used to describe blacks, the word colored says it all. The word colored is unique because it also dates us back to time when blacks were legally called colored. Colored, was the label that grouped all blacks as one if they had a quarter of African DNA in the United States under the Racial Integrity Act of 1915 of Virginia. This was the time before the Pan- Africanism that started in the 1960s. Today as we redefine much of our history we also embrace this time of female empowerment. The Colored Girl Museum is essential in surpassing female oppression as well as the low self- esteem factor that glides along with the inherited dysfunction and family structure of the post slavery, black lash of post bellum Stockholm Syndrome that has been passed down to generation to generation as an anxiety disorder that negates how we cope and survive alongside racial oppression as well as female oppression.