Student Reading, Howard University, Washington DC, photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for LIFE Magazine, November 1946
Jewish Amazigh man from Morocco
My old research was beginning to touch upon Jewish Amazigh communities in Morocco.
Also this guy has serious swag.
Love this photo! It was taken by Jean Besancenot in the Dadès (High Atlas), sometime between 1934-1939 (you can see the original here, roll over). The earring was actually pretty traditional for Jewish men in Morocco — it was believed to protect against the evil eye (see Stillman 1970).
And indianajosh what was your research about?
why are greaser aesthetics still used to depict “bad boys” in art and media, when it hasn’t been that way since the 50s. this is a real mystery, i’m a serious scientist.
thats probs right.
it’s a so frustrating because greasers were originally Mexicans or other latinxs, or Italians - either by subculture reclaiming, or slur. “Greasers” started out as the object of white fear.
Ethnically, original greasers were mostly composed of mostly Italian Americans in the Northeastern United States and Chicanos in the Southwest. Since both of these peoples were mostly olive-skinned, the “greaser” label assumed a quasi-racial status that implied an urban lower class masculinity and delinquency. This development led to an ambiguity in the racial distinction between poor Italian Americans and Puerto Ricans in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s. Greasers were also perceived as being predisposed to perpetrating sexual violence, stoking fear among middle class males and arousal among middle class females.
What most people remember is NOT the actual era of the greasers, but instead the 60′s and 70′s “sanitization” of who they were, why they were stereotyped against, and why they were used as villains.
Hell, before greaser was ever recognized as a “subculture” it was explicitly used as a derogatory term against mexicans. (That link references The Greaser Act, and lots of Hollywood movies which used the word.)
so before the 40′s-50′s, greaser was heavily used to portray a racist stereotype of a Mexican/Chicano man as violent/aggressive. (at least in media). This term also got used against some other latinxs in general, as well as Italians and sometimes Greeks. At least in hollywood this “greaser” type promoted mexicans as bad/dangerous and while also promoting latin lover stereotypes:
The Mexican Government soon objected to Hollywood’s portrayal of its citizens as “bandits and sneaks” and threatened to ban all films produced by companies which offended its people. This 1922 threat caused screenwriters to treat their neighbors to the south with more care. The “greaser” swiftly lost his Mexican nationality in the attempt to diffuse potential complaints, but his ghost still haunted new screenplays which concerned Hispanic characters.
Clever subterfuges often placed an unnamed “greaser” in a new locale. Rather than use the name of an actual country and risk offending its inhabitants, screenwriters began to create mythical cities and nations. “The Dove” (1928) provided an obvious example. The film concerned Don Jose Maria y Sandoval (Noah Beery), who considered himself “the bes’ damn caballero in Costa Roja.” Costa Roja, as the title cards explained, was situated in the Mediterranean!
The flimsy guise fooled scarcely anyone. The Times critic commented: “Taken by and large, Jose is perhaps a screen character to which the Mexican government might have objected, for he is greedy, sensuous, boastful, cold-blooded, irritable, and quite a wine-bibber, but he does dress well. He hates to have his luncheon spoiled by the noisy victim of a firing squad.”
those images don’t look super like what you’d think of as “greaser” subculture, but…when you go forwards a decade or two, and then look at the actual people:
Wikipedia mentions that the Mexican American community was then…investigated to see if they had ties to the Nazis. (Yeah.)
On June 21, 1943, the State Un-American Activities Committee, under state senator Jack Tenney, arrived in Los Angeles with orders to “determine whether the present Zoot Suit Riots were sponsored by Nazi agencies attempting to spread disunity between the United States and Latin-American countries.” Although Tenney claimed he had evidence the riots were “[A]xis-sponsored”, no evidence was ever presented to support this claim. […] In late 1944, ignoring the findings of the McGucken committee and the unanimous reversal of the convictions by the appeals court in the Sleepy Lagoon case on October 4, the Tenney Committee announced that the National Lawyers Guild was an “effective communist front.”
so that 1940′s look becomes this over time:
three Cholos showing off their outfits (1950′s). why? because zoot suits were deemed horrifically unamerican and “wasteful” during WWII.
but then ofc bitch ass racist white boys and motorcyles co-opted the look, add in a little bit of Travolta white washing of the radical pushback against racism in the origins of this stuff, and now we’re here.
Photographer Ruth Orkin and Her Husband, Fellow Photographer Morris Engel, New York City Uncredited and Undated Photograph
“Ruth Orkin and her husband [Morris Engel] defined New York for me. They also defined the ability to capture characters in time, in place, for study. Orkin’s work is of great value to the writer, because each photograph is so full of the spirit of the subject, its time, its place. She has a benevolent, voracious eye. She sees everything, but always remembers and shares the humanity of the subject.” Tennessee Williams, 1982
BEAUTY AND THE BEACH (SEPIA DREAM SERIES}
A group of teens strike a pose for the camera at Missouri Avenue Beach (aka Chicken Bone Beach) , Atlantic City, NJ [1950s]. The only beach on the Jersey coast. open to African Americans. Photo Credit: John W. Mosley, . Atlantic City, NJ 1950s’
Memorial day run, Milwaukee by Danny Lyon
Ernestine & Racehorse Billy
The back reads: “This is not my girl, but she is my racing partner & one of the best around here. Her name is Ernestine, and the fellow is Racehorse Billy.”
[Donated by the Earl McCann Collection]