A collaboration between Shannon Woodloe and Chet'la Sebree.

"The portrayal of black female sexuality as inherently degraded is a product of slavery and … lives on as one of slavery’s chief legacies … "

—Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

In 2019, the media clambered to acknowledge that it had been 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to the Colony of Virginia.

In 401, photographer Shannon Woodloe explores the continuum that is the legacy of slavery, how it extends far beyond years a select few deem worthy of acknowledgement. In particular, Woodloe explores slavery's effect on black women and their understandings of their bodies, desire, and sexuality.

Inspired by Chet'la Sebree's poetry collection Mistress—which looks at black women's experiences through Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson's enslaved "concubine," and a contemporary speaker—Woodloe provides a somewhat voyeuristic lens through which black women are celebrated in their complexities as they contend with an "inherently degraded" legacy.

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