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Afros, black fists and hair braids- No this isn’t yet another depiction of Beyoncé’s “Formation” performance at the Super Bowl (Yes, these discussions continue nearly four months later)- it’s actually a description of the 2016 “Doodle 4 Google” contest winner’s…
Afros, black fists and hair braids- No this isn’t yet another depiction of Beyoncé’s “Formation” performance at the Super Bowl (Yes, these discussions continue nearly four months later)- it’s actually a description of the 2016 “Doodle 4 Google” contest winner’s artwork. High School sophomore Akilah Johnson’s “Afro-Centric Life” was selected among approximately 100,000 elementary to high school students’ entries.
While the contest beckoned students to use images revealing “What Makes Me… Me”, Akilah’s images transcends her individuality. Instead, they’re representative of her culture and an intentional nod to “her people” and “What Makes Us…Us”.
Akilah tells The Washington Post, “As I grew older, I … realized that the black people [who] came before us … made us into what we are today, so of course I had to include them in some way.” (“Of all the things I chose to include,” Akilah writes on Google’s site, “the six most special to me are the Symbol of Life [the ankh], the African continent, where everything began for me and my ancestors, the Eye of Horus, the word ‘power’ drawn in black, the woman’s fist based on one of my favorite artist’s works, and the D.C. flag — because I’m a Washingtonian at heart and I love my city with everything in me!”).
Akilah’s imagery is, undoubtedly, beautiful. It’s symbolic. It’s also very brave. At a time in our nation when the expression “Black Likes Matter” has increasingly become misinterpreted as a police-hating, “anti-white proposition”, it is there- in black and white- between the afro and braided hair, spotlighted on Google’s home page.
Akilah has also been awarded a $30,000 college scholarship while her high school will be awarded a $50,000 Google for Education grant “towards the establishment and improvement of a computer lab or technology program.”
Just a sophomore when she created “My Afro-Centric Life”, we can only expect even greater contributions to art and society as time progresses. Well done, Akilah!