How many times have you heard “diversity” and “inclusion” when it comes to the fashion industry in 2019 alone? This year major fashion companies made it their mission to be diverse and include the rest of the world into their prestigious circle because, well, segregation is wrong. Shocker.
I’ve worked in the fashion industry since I was 16 years old. I’m no stranger to sabotage some of the tastemakers in fashion tend to do to Black people so as I sit here today reading Kerby Jean-Raymond’s letter to the publication Business of Fashion, I cry tears of joy. To read his letter, click here.
For decades, Black people have fought tooth and nail to be accepted into fashion and art. We watched as many white and white passing people have mocked and shamed us then stole our work. We sat back while we were used to fill a diversity quota in these large, white, spaces. They screamed “inclusion” and stole our work. They said “diverse” and underpaid us. We sat back and we watched, powerlessly. As they made themselves look good, we worked tirelessly to try to make a name for ourselves.
While we make them look good and share our ideas with them, they’re taking notes. They’re always taking notes on us, on our lingo, on our style, on our trends. We are the trendsetters. We are the visionaries and they know this so what do they do? Create an alternative agenda. Similar to what they did to Kerby. They invite us in as though we’re being recognized and celebrated then the mask comes off. We get blindsided and humiliated. So how do we fight back? How do we stop making diversity and inclusion just meaningless buzzwords? We do what Kerby did. Take the power back.
We use the platform we’ve built and network with people who look like us. We sit at the tables where our neighbors share the same hue as us. We take our power back. We hold them accountable. We continue to create spaces for our people. We don’t allow them to let this happen again. So thank you Kerby for using you voice to share you experience and unmasking the truth; holding BOF accountable for their actions and rooting for the people who look like you.