oprah dorothy west the wedding halle berry

Safe Harbors For Black Beachgoers

Binge-watching Apple TV’s show Home, I came across the episode highlighting the historic African American beach communities on Long Island: Sag Harbor, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach—and a tour of the long-time residents’ homes. It inspired my vintage, East coast beach pin up design.

 

It reminded me of the first time I was really exposed to the Black elite post-Jim Crow beyond the American South: the Oprah-produced made-for-tv movie The Wedding, staring Halle Berry and taking place in a Black high-society section of Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950’s. I went on to read the novel by Dorothy West.

Historic African American Beach tote tee sticker Quel Parish

Historic African American Beach tote tee sticker Quel Parish

Historic African American Beach tote tee sticker Quel Parish

oprah dorothy west the wedding halle berry

oprah dorothy west the wedding halle berry

A few years later, I would have long conversations with my roommate—her family was the closest I’d ever been to anyone who was born into the Black elite. While I couldn’t relate to the exclusivity, protocols, etc., I could relate to having pride in a unique subset of African American culture that isn’t widely understood by outside observers. Both are subject to a LOT of assumptions (many negative, many ignorant). There is also an undercurrent of judgment if we’re a little too proud and/or think the cultures are worth preserving and celebrating—reasons too complicated for me to wade through at the moment.

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