Tag Archives: fist

Gesture – “Black Lives Matter”

Text: The above image depicts the gesture, which is essentially a fist.

Context: One of my roommates who is of African American and Puerto Rican descent shed some more light on this gesture. She mentioned that the gesture is a fist and then went into the background of this gesture and how it came to be. She started off by saying, “for years in the African American community…[they] have always used a fist as a significance of saying power to the people, it’s a way to show allyship with each other, like to say I’m with you brother, I’m with you sister…it eventually became the logo of the Black Lives Matter movement”. Overall she said that “it’s always had the same meaning…it was to better the circumstances and oppression that black people face”. I then went on to ask about the importance of this gesture to her and she said that “as a child [she] would watch movies about the black panthers and [she] grew up meeting people that was part of the black panther party or that marched with Martin Luther King or Malcolm X because [her] mom immersed [she] in that stuff…they would tell [her] the significance of the fist and how it was like a signal to each other…like peace be with you brothers”. She went on to talk about how “the gesture took on a different meaning once the Black Lives Matter movement started to gain traction”. Overall, when asked of its importance she said, “it’s important because it shows allyship with each other in the community…it means community and I’m a black woman and I don’t want to be oppressed”.

Analysis: While to others this might look like a simple fist or a sign of victory (like you see in the movies), this hand gesture has so much more meaning to the African American community. Looking back through history they have experienced so much hardship, which is why this gesture has become so important to this community. It could have stood as a sign that one is not alone. Through the struggles, this gesture reminds those within this community to stay strong and that there are people who stand together. We can see this strong sense of community in the African American community during the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the support from other communities.

Curse of the Bambinos

My informant told me a story about what he calls the “Curse of the Bambinos”:

“My mother’s family was Italian and came to the United States when my grandparents were in their twenties. When my sister and I were babies, in our Brockton, Massachusetts house, my grandmother would visit. She insisted that she had a dream when both babies were born that a gypsy had spit at us. To fight off this curse she hung in our crib a little carving of a fist with fingers wrapped around an extended thumb, the gesture used to ward off curses and the evil-eye. Even though my mother thought it really old fashion and crazy, she let her mother hang these charms at the head of each crib.”

My informant said that he and his sister often tell that story because they think it was so odd. They do not believe in the “Curse of the Bambino”, but they do appreciate it as part of the beliefs of the culture that they come from.

I believe that this is an important piece of folklore because it shows that although people can recognize that certain superstitions are probably not true, they still keep them alive out of respect for their heritage. It upholds the sense of identity that they get from their history and traditions.