oooh history is interesting
It’s fascinating looking at representations of Africans in Chinese CCP propaganda from the 60s and early 70s. During this time period, China saw itself standing in solidarity in a class struggle with POC in Africa, Asia and Latin America against white-led American and European imperialism. The CCP also saw itself as having led a revolution which could be modeled by the peoples of these nations. Representations of Africa in the propaganda of this era therefore show tremendous camaraderie and brotherhood, presenting a united front against Western imperialism and colonization.
At the same time, though, these images are also steeped in a deep sense of racialized paternalism, which the last image, “Saviour” speaks tremendously to as well. This was due in part to the fact that the CCP’s revolution came earlier and was therefore the model revolution which they were “teaching” to Africans, but it also played directly upon antiblack stereotypes of African people as explicitly primitive (see the poster in which the “silver needle of friendship” is passed) and requiring the stewardship of the Chinese CCP in their march toward freedom in their own countries. The paternalism evident in the “friendship” is clear and plays into these racist, demeaning tropes, raising up a Chinese (rather than white) savior for African peoples in the face of Mao ZeDong.
These images are therefore interesting in the ways they evoke a sense of global POC solidarity against white-led imperialist forces from America and Europe, portray African leaders in a positive and noble light, generally work to show brotherhood between Chinese and African peoples, but then also plays to racist tropes like the “noble savage” trope and positions Africans and other POC in the developing world in solidarity but ultimately under Chinese CCP stewardship with a Chinese savior (Mao ZeDong) who “gets” their struggle, rather than a white one— but still a demeaning, paternalistic savior nonetheless.
Very interesting images to examine, especially for those interested in the history of relationships between Africans and Chinese people, and all of this come courtesy of chineseposters.net’s amazing article “Foreign Friends: African Friends.”
Meet the Forty Elephants.
This is the name of a gang based out of London. With bedecked knuckles of diamond rings, the leader “Diamond Annie” (real name Alice Diamond) led this fierce all-female force of shoplifters that terrorized high quality stores in the West End of London and in other cities.
Also, here are two members of the Forty Elephants:
From about 1873 - 1950 (though, there are some indications of reports as early as the late 1700’s), these women - with their specially tailored suits and their fast cars (when the 20th century rolled around) were virtually unstoppable and went nearly undetected from police.
They were ruthless and pitiless when it came to their “turf”. If anyone was caught stealing from one of their stores, they would arrange beatings and even kidnappings until the money was paid.
They were rebellious, decadent, and knew how to have a good time. They loved to throw lavish parties and even more they loved to live it up at the finest pubs and restaurants.
They were incredibly smart and maintained avoiding police detection by using fake names and rarely wearing what they stole. They usually bought high fashion clothes for themselves and sold what they stole.
Sometimes, they went into partnership with the all-male “Elephant and Castle Mob.
Which in turn, made it even more difficult for police to apprehend them. These women ran one of the largest operations of organized shoplifting their country had ever known. And yet, some of us are *just barely* hearing about them.
My God, when will there be a movie, dangit.