The Black Madonna Project: One Artist Helping to Reshape & Articulate the Powerful Narrative of the Black Matriarchy

Do you ever wonder how did we get here as a human family?

Well, founder and creative director Rae Paul of Crown & Ruckus, a creative production agency, tackles this question beautifully. Paul explores this phenomenon in depth and what he discovers is a universal truth that goes back through time, space and history.

The young creative artist fosters a different perspective, one that goes much deeper than what we’ve been told or read in books. 

He unfolds the survival of the Black family.

“The Black Madonna Project,” is a 2-day series that artistically narrates the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of Black Matriarchy.

For decades, “black matriarchy” has been studied. The term and the ideology behind it has conditioned us to believe that a matriarchal structure is a negative thing, causing issues in today’s black youth.

The “Black Madonna” or black virgin represents and celebrates black beauty -- their strength, existence, and power.

This moving and eye-opening series is dedicated to the empowerment of women, their resilience in a world where the system fails to recognize their worth.

Get your tickets for Crown & Ruckus's Black Madonna art empowerment party right here.

Astrid Sarmiento: Let's start with your personal journey. Tell me more about The Black Madonna Project. How was it born? What inspired you to create this compelling project?

Rae Paul: The Black Madonna Project started with my curiosity of religion, psychology, sociology and art history. After leaving college where I took some African American studies and art history classes, my brain opened up to another side of history.

I started reading books written by black scholars, and in several books the black woman was described as God. From there, I found out about the Black Madonna statues that get praised by Popes today, and it was as if I jumped down a rabbit hole.

Once I continued to get deeper, it became more than a personal project, but a truth I had to find and share as my truth, as my art.

AS: What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?

RP: I'm interested to see how people will take in the information I'm presenting at my event. It's a lot of information so I'm hoping I've dissected it enough for people to digest.


AS: We are living in crucial times, how important would you say is this project for society and women in general?

RP: I think there's a cycle of American evolution that comes around every 50 years or so, and we're due to spark another one. I think it's important in these "crucial times" that artists create the narrative and not let their oppressors control the masses without resistance.

It's our responsibility as artists to present the current context of the historical of society as African people in a Eurocentric paradigm.

AS: What type of challenges did you come across when creating this project?

RP: There's a lot of history, there's a lot of decoding things that have been re-coded and designed to fit different systems throughout centuries of time. Juxtaposing a lot of the information and presenting it in a visual was harder than I thought it would be.

AS: What uplifts, influences and motivates you to keep going each day?

RP: I feel passionate about creating something that will last many generations. I've gained a purpose as a child from my grandmother and parents, so I've always wanted to succeed to make them happy.

Each day I try to give thanks, it's actually a hashtag (#GiveThanks) I tweet daily, and it's just me showing gratitude by thinking and remembering those who live through me. My grandparents, my aunts, my ancestors—it's just a time to remember that I have life and I need to be thankful for that.

AS: Everything that we have done in the past has been instrumental in making us the person that we are today. In your opinion, are we students or prisoners of our own history?

RP: I would say we are prisoners. If we were students then we would've learned from our mistakes and evolved as a society.

WEB DuBois broke down the problem of the 20th century as the color line, and we still see how racism exists today in the 21st century.

AS: True, any words of wisdom or advice for those going through troubling times after this election?

RP: I think we're caught up emotionally in what's happening in America right now. I think the provocative image of Trump incited fear on non-white males who live in America and that fear is being used in the media to propagate confusion and chaos.

I don’t think that the system in America, based on greedy capitalist practices will change with Trump, so I honestly think it's just back to the script as it was for the last 43 presidents.

AS: The Black Madonna Project focuses on the survival of the tribe and not on the success of the individual. Do you feel that the success of an individual is what brings upon this greed, negativity and destruction to a society?

RP: I think the success of the individual is necessary, but there should be a product or by-product that benefits the community without exploiting it. The ethos of the greed comes from the masculine respective of "I,Me,Mine," that's what causes the destruction.

It's our responsibility as artists to present the current context of the historical of society as African people in a Eurocentric paradigm.

AS: In one of your promo visuals, you use the term “whitewashed.” Over centuries, a pattern has emerged that black people of historical importance have been “whitewashed” from textbooks to religious images. We even see it today in Hollywood films. How has this affected and blinded our society from the truth?

RP: I think Hollywood is just an updated narrative of maintaining this whitewashing. From the first stories of man written by Homer, we've had the same narrative that dominates Hollywood, "white boy/man leaves home to find himself and comes back a man/hero."

Hollywood is just continuing the indoctrination of viewing life from a white patriarchal perspective.

AS: What happens when we lose our sense of identity?

RP: I think one thing that can't be destroyed or whitewashed is the soul. The spirit that connects us will always provide a resistance in trying to restore balance, no matter how long it takes, at some point people will tap into that aspect of their physical beings.

AS: The Black Madonna Project touches on many aspects of philosophy and spirituality, what are you hoping to achieve with this project?

RP: I'm hoping to give people a different perspective on life. People may question how the world is in "crucial times" right now, but as I've looked through history, it's been tumbling toward destruction since it's beginning it seems. I'm just trying to give a vantage point for people to see there's possibly another angle that can create instead of destroy.

AS: The totality of our experiences leads each of us to feel whatever it is that we feel. At the end of the day, what do you hope the viewers take away from this experience?

RP: I hope people leave the event and go online or on their laptop days or weeks later and research something that stuck with them from the event. I hope I can spark a mind to jump down the rabbit hole with me.

AS: As you know we are always growing and learning. Is there anything you would like to take the time to learn more about?

RP: The Black Madonna Project is called a project for the reason that I know I haven't reached the light at the end of the tunnel. This project is an event series that I'll continue to gain more knowledge about as we at Crown & Ruckus continue to try and find those in our tribe.

All in all, it's a constructive attempt at creating conscious conversation surrounding culture that the collective tribe desperately needs right now.

AS: Any other thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

RP: I'd like people to google "Black Madonna" and see what pops up and see if they fall down the same rabbit hole I have. If not, come out to the event on Saturday, November 19th and we'll give you the cliff notes.

Don't Miss Saturday's Black Madonna Art Empowerment Party with Crown & Ruckus

[Feature Image Courtesy Crown & Ruckus] 

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