My name is Caira Naomi, I am a 24-year old woman born and raised in North London with Jamaican heritage. I am a photographer, singer, rapper and song-writer as one half of Afro Comb; a hip-hop and soul duo formed with my partner. We write and record our own music, exploring the juxtapositions of being Black and British; the many nuances, highs and lows. Our latest project, Faith? was released just before the eruption of the revolution we are living through right now. As a group and an individual I am unapologetic in my Blackness and in calling out the truths which society and individuals often want to shy away from. “Oppression leads to anger, that’s a fact” [Faith?] – we use our anger, passion and experiences to share our perspectives, (male and female) hopefully influencing other young Black people to find their voice and begin the long journey of self-love and acceptance - in a society which wants the opposite for us.
This piece centres around hair; a vital part of Black women’s identity. Woven into this piece is the fact that we are still playing catch up, in terms of our fundamental human rights as Black women. Whilst white women led their own movement in the twentieth century, Black people only had their own Civil Rights movement half a century later. Black women are yet to have their own Suffragette movement.
The piece’s focus is the hypocrisy placed on the beauty standards of Black women and the sexualisation and demonisation of us. This damaging rhetoric is clear across all forms of society; social media, art, politics and Hollywood. Our skin, features and physiques are scrutinised yet appropriated by Western ideals. One of many examples is Serena Williams; she is described as manly, intimidating and beastly yet Kim Kardashian, whose image is influenced by women who look like Serena, is on the ultimate pedestal. Features such as big lips are desirable on white women but ridiculed on Black women.
This piece connects music and history; two defining factors in my life. The piece is rhythmic and metaphorical; I want the viewer to hear the pain and the drums of my ancestors. Chants and songs were used as escape routes for slaves; and I want to use this medium as an escape from the Western gaze and ideal standards put upon myself and Black women.