The first blog post I wrote for 1010ParkPlace was an article about the Color of the Year, and that I was excited because of what it represented. I’m having those same feelings again, still abuzz with excitement from last week’s Inauguration, and the fact that Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama all chose to wear brilliant shades of purple. Elizabeth Warren even wore a fuchsia neck scarf and matching mask.
Purple is special. Take to heart Alice Walker’s powerful line, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”
Politically, the color purple (borrowing from Alice) is significant because it represents bipartisanship. In this case, their outfits represent a hope for Red and Blue to work together… Heaven knows we could certainly use a lot more of that.
Do you remember elementary school art lessons about primary and secondary colors? Red, Blue, and Yellow are the primary colors, and when you mix any two together you get a secondary color. Red and Blue mixed together become Purple.
Purple was one of the colors of the suffrage movement. In a 1913 newsletter, the National Women’s Party described their use of purple, stating that it “stood for loyalty, constancy to purpose, and unswerving steadfastness to a cause.” My paternal grandmother, Carolina Basile, born to Italian immigrants, was a suffragette in NYC in the late 1920’s. Her steadfastness and vision, along with tens of thousands of others like her, gave women the right to vote, and lead all of us to this amazing moment in history: our first female Vice President!
Purple has long been associated with royalty, and along with it, power and wealth. There are a few reasons for this: Phoenician-purple dye was extremely time-consuming to create since it was made by gathering and crushing Murex Brandaris shells. Thousands of shells were required to make enough dye for just one tunic, making it extremely expensive.
But even more than the cost of labor and all those poor sea-creatures, this dye was prized because rather than fade over time, the color increased in brilliance as it was exposed to sunlight and air!
Purple was worn by Roman magistrates, then became the color of rulers in both the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, and later it was the color of the Roman Catholic Bishops. At some point in history, laws were enforced ensuring that only royals could wear it.
I think back to all of the paintings I’ve seen in museums where some royal, or another, is wearing a purple ermine-trimmed cape. I’ll pass on the fur, but I always noticed that splendid color.
Which brings me to the reason I am most excited that purple is having its moment: Violet represents the Crown Chakra – Universal consciousness and our connection to a higher guidance. We are finally realizing that we are, in fact, all connected. I believe this represents the opportunity to work together from a more conscious and conscientious place, and move forward together. To accept each other across party lines, or whatever imaginary lines divide us.
If you haven’t yet, do read Alice Walker’s, “The Color Purple.” And every time you wear anything purple, I hope you remember how special the color is, and just how special you are!