Source: –, Client Highlight: How White Supremacy Attempts to Make Slavery and Segregation, “Soooo Long Ago.”, Zerflin.com, April 6, 2016, https://zerflin.com/2016/04/06/client-highlight-how-white-supremacy-attempts-to-make-slavery-and-segregation-soooo-long-ago/.
Text describing this graphic tattoo is excerpted from the Zerflin.com web site.
Back in 2016, Zerflin was commissioned to create a piece of art that gives an account of America’s history with slavery. This graphic tattoo is a timeline that highlights key points in Slavery of the African Diaspora in America. A timeline that is too very often dismissed and disregarded.
“…but slavery was sooo long ago.”
The folks at Zerflin heard this quote over and over throughout the course of modern American history. In an attempt to urge black people to “move on” and to recognize just how good they have it in America, this dismissive and tone-deaf statement attempts to transform relatively recent history into ancient history or myth.
In an attempt to urge black people to “move on” and to recognize just how good they have it in America, this dismissive and tone-deaf statement attempts to transform relatively recent history into ancient history or myth.
However, when looking at this graphic, it is very clear that American slavery and segregation was not so long ago. In fact, it is very possible to have conversations with many African Americans who have vivid memories of Jim Crow South and the racist and subversive practices in the North.
America cannot escape its past. This country’s history is stained with the blood of thousands and its foundation built on the backs of enslaved men, women and children. America’s complete history cannot be told without including the horrors of slavery and its long-lasting effects.
The enslavement of African peoples by Europeans began in 1441 with Prince Henry the Navigator of Spain. However, because this tattoo is specific to the enslavement of the African Diaspora in America and because it includes American segregation, Zerflin felt that it did not make sense to include a full timeline of the entire diaspora.
For this graphic tattoo, here’s what Zerflin included:
1619: Arrival of “20 and odd” Africans in late August, on an English warship the “White Lion.”
1865: Slavery abolished in the United States of America.
1954: Supreme Court Declares School Segregation Unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.
The colors; Red, Black, Yellow, and Green, are colors used in PanAfrican symbolism and design. As the client is an African American, Zerflin wanted to represent that history and culture in the colors themselves as they wrap around the wrist.
There are DOZENS of things that could be added. Because it’s a tattoo design, they felt there was only so much they could add. But that is exactly why the green area is untitled. Green doesn’t necessarily mean good. The untitled green area recognizes that full equality for African American still has yet to be fully realized. When it comes down to it, people are STILL fighting for equality; whether it’s for city services, fair treatment by police, education, or wages.
To suggest that an entire community of people forget the stain of slavery and its adverse effects is a selfish attempt to absolve this country of its sins.
To suggest that an entire community of people forget the stain of slavery and its adverse effects is a selfish attempt to absolve this country of its sins. That is why Zerflin was happy to create pieces like this graphic tattoo because these pieces help to keep this country accountable for its legacy of slavery. Without looking backward and acknowledging the horrific past, we cannot fully move forward.
I highly recommend you visit the Zerflin web site. Here is a link.