Before I could even sit down to write my post about the most recent fashion racial misbehaving I read about Trump’s supposedly “alarming” comments at yesterday’s briefing about immigration. If you are familiar with your president’s belief system, there is nothing surprising here. As Maya Angelou famously said, and I’m paraphrasing: when someone shows you who they are believe them. He is a racist. Yes, I said it. Some things speak for themselves. He’s not afraid to show it. People around him may be alarmed but why? All evidence points in the same direction. One of his questions in yesterday’s meeting was why should he accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than from places like Norway. No deep analysis needed here.
I do understand that even though, not surprising, it is unsettling, disheartening, hugely disturbing because this is the so-called leader of our land saying these things and it has the effect of making it palatable for others to follow suit. Which leads me to what’s happening in the fashion industry. The wonderful part about what these stories show, however, is that WE are NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! This kind of response, as is occurring with the #metoo campaign, needs to happen with regard to the 45th president as well and I fully expect that it will. Stay tuned.
The first fashion tale of late involves H&M. Surely by now you have seen the pitiful ad featuring a young black male child clad in a green hoodie that reads “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” Negative reactions were swift on Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc. and many creatives crafted new more positive memes featuring the boy wearing a crown and new uplifting sentiments on his shirt. Celebrities like LeBron James, P. Diddy, Questlove called out H&M and threatened boycotts. (The Weeknd and G.Eazy actually parted ways with the company.) The company has issued an apology and pulled the ad as well as the shirt. In an interesting twist though, the young model’s mother issued her own statement basically asserting that folks who are upset need to get a life. She sees no problem with it because I guess the paycheck diminishes any concerns on her part. Whatever. It’s bigger than her though at this point and that’s what I love. Conscious and concerned folks said, Sorry, not Sorry, that’s not going to be tolerated. We don’t want our children in clothes that give a negative message. Too many black people historically have been called monkeys and not in a cute way. So that’s that.
Second on the menu involves the fashion blogger community. Revolve, a large e-commerce fashion brand, has been bombarded with comments criticizing it’s tone-deaf use of way too similarly situated models and so-called “fashion influencers” and turning its back on diverse representation in terms of ethnicity, size, etc. The hastag “#RevolveSoWhite” has even made an appearance. A recent “influencer” trip to Thailand really got under folks, skin when photos from the excursion highlighted the lack of diversity. Bloggers of color are not mincing their fighting words and deeds. Valerie Eguavoen, for one, of onacurve.com, has written an extensive response and created #YOUBELONGNOW which lists bloggers of color and gives them a unifying platform. Following on the heels of the #Metoo campaign it all makes sense and I say bring it on!