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‘Eminence’ Photo Project Shows Black Women Reclaiming Their Bodies


Jo’Nella Queen Cabrera Ellerbe: “I’m the queen and no one can take that away from me.” (Image: Taylor Michael)

Our narrative as Black women has long been repackaged by others. So, when we heard about Afro-Latina Jo’Nella Queen Cabrera Ellerbe’s photo project, we couldn’t contain our joy, love and admiration.

Ellerbe, a Brown University student, disagrees with the way Black women are portrayed and, hence, launched her project, “Eminence,” alongside other students, Jacinta Lomba, 20, and Taylor Michael, 20.

“All the images that we see of women of color… we over-sexualize, fetishize and [eroticize] them,” Ellerbe, 22, said to The Huffington Post. “[We] don’t really have control of those images.”

“Eminence” includes images of words and phrases written on the backs of 18 women, including Ellerbe, from across the African Diaspora. Ellerbe notes the goal of putting the words on each woman’s back was to replace society’s negative perceptions of Black women with messages of empowerment and control.

“I just thought a lot about women’s backs and how I feel like women of color, especially Black women, their backs hold both a burden and a lightness,” the Harlem native said. “I think [it’s] a release and a breath of air when we get to show ourselves the way we want to be seen.”

HuffPost writes:

“Ellerbe and her team encouraged the participants to choose the words they wanted to display and asked them to select the photo they wanted to include in the exhibit. 

“I wanted to allow and provide the space for some of these black women to just exist publicly,” Ellerbe told HuffPost. She said it was liberating to “have this photo taken of just your body and what your body is. Just knowing that you’re in control of that one image of yourself.”

Read more about “Eminence” at HuffPost Black Voices.

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