This stunning photograph (reblogged from vintagegal) of African American vaudevillian showgirls is a reminder that mainstream American culture - even cultural forms that have historically trafficked in racial and gender stereotypes like vaudeville - has always included women of color (if in limited and uneven ways). The caption from the Black History Album reads:
"African American vaudeville performers (showgirls/chorus line) dressed in very risque (for the time) feline costumes. Undated. Very likely early 1900s."
For more on this history of cultural intervention, see Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s Waltzing in the Dark: African American Race Politics in the Swing Era (Palgrave MacMillan 2002) and Krystyn Moon’s essay "The Rise of Asians and Asian Americans in Vaudeville, 1880s-1930s."