top of page


By Aretha Busby Creative

Thank you for stopping by to engage with Tolerably Black. Take a look around and explore. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, or would like to learn more.


What Is Tolerably Black?








Encountering a runaway slave ad used on the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ website sparked a desire in me to know more about the individual stories, lives, and relationships of people depicted in such ads.


During the over 300-year period that slavery existed in the U.S., between 40,000 and 100,000 enslaved people escaped from southern states, northward, via the Underground Railroad. Many were captured, re-enslaved, or hung for attempting to escape. One person that made it to freedom by running to Canada, was my great-great-great-great grandmother.


My family history makes me feel personally connected to all of their stories. Even though it can seem that the person escaping has been reduced to a brief descriptive ad placed in the local paper by their enslavers, I have found a way to honor and to dignify their lives by enlarging these ads, screen-printing them on 100% cotton, framing them, and presenting them to you.


The undercurrents of slavery’s existence still permeate all strata of American society today.

Tolerably Black was born in the hopes of sparking constructive, heartfelt dialog around our shared history, without shame, without hate and without guilt. Just truth. Our truth.


Watch Highlights of My Work

I incorporate a moving-installation/performance aspect. We become runaway slaves to honor our ancestors.

"This is our shared history as Americans. And this shared history informs all of our interactions today, whether we realize this or not."

Why is Tolerably Black relevant?

Aretha Busby


Follow us & use the social icons, with @TolerablyBlack or #TolerablyBlackto share your comments with everyone; I'd love to hear from you!

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • Vimeo Social Icon

Stay Connected & Subscribe

bottom of page