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JANNAH HANDY

Age: 31

Location: Trenton, NJ. Born & bred in Brooklyn, NY.

Profession: Administrator & Adjunct Professor

Favorite vinyl record or throwback tune: The entire "Superfly" soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield

 

What does black vintage mean to you?

Representation. Black vintage is about seeing all the different ways we have existed. Black vintage is also the embodiment of fortitude. As a people, our fortitude has always been tested by the perils of white supremacy, capitalism and classism. One might say that our possessions have as well. In bondage, we were not legally allowed to own property. After Emancipation, sharecropping and Jim Crow regulations economically crippled Black folks and their ability to accumulate wealth and possessions. Lastly, The Great Migration and state-sanctioned terrorism in the form of lynch mobs and the KKK forced Black folks to become transient people who had to drop everything and flee at the threat of violence.

African American vintage items have a deeper meaning than others because, not only have they withstood the test of time, but also the powerful and violent forces that have historically tried to keep Black folks oppressed.

Do you see yourself as a “collector”? If so, how did you come to collect? If not, why not?

My partner, Kiyanna, always rolls her eyes when I say this, but I started collecting in order to date her! (lol) Outside of a home cooked meal, the way to her heart was then and continues to be through vintage. After a couple of thrift store trips/dates it was easy to see the appeal and adventure of collecting/picking vintage items.  In terms of the title “collector”, I think I occupy a space between collecting and picking. Collecting being the process of seeking out specific types of antiquities. Picking, the process of uncovering and finding new items you weren’t looking for. Collecting, taking place in clean and well-kempt showrooms, and picking, the digging through dirty scrap yards or sketchy hoarder homes. Finding a healthy balance between picking and collecting is vital to ensure that I do not end up a hoarder myself!

What vintage items in your collection are you most proud of and why?

Undoubtedly, my most prized vintage possession is an 1831 fugitive slave notice. The text of the notice talks about a $50.00 reward for ‘Paul’, a runaway with one ear and a badly cut up back from being whipped. Paul is rumored to be frequenting a neighboring plantation where his wife and children are enslaved. To own an artifact from the time of enslavement is always a sobering reminder of just how much our ancestors endured. I cherish the messages that Black vintage items possess - whether it is perserverance, the importance of family or the preservation of “Black cool” in the face of institutional oppression.

To connect with Jannah, check her out on Instagram.