You’re Blinded by the Fashion [and other ways WSPS is infringing on my liberty]

Let me start this post off by saying, HAPPY BLACK FOLKS MONTH YALLLLLLL! There’s just Black Excellence Recognition everywhere. On my instagram there’s a black history month challenge going on where people are supposed to post a different Black Great everyday and I’m seeing all kinds of people I knew nothing about. Between that and Tumblr and the Black history Calendar I have on my way it’s just one great Black People be Great party for me right now. And y’all know how I feel about Black People being great

and some of this too
and some of this too

Anyways, on to the actual topic of discussion!

A very close friend of mine is a fashion-fiend.

And not just, “ooh my clothes and my shoes and my hair accessories coordinate” [which is pretty much what I pat myself on the back for whenever I actually accomplish it-which is seldom] but legitimately reads fashion magazines, stays informed of the latest styles from fashion week, and has a list of her favorite fashion houses [I didn’t even know fashion designers and their body of work were even called “houses” until like a week ago] so basically fashion is seriously her thing.

 Recently she informed me of the rampant and overt racism that is ever-present in the industry. Not just “oh we’re going for a different look” but designers blatantly telling people to their faces that “they won’t put you in a show because you’re black [or of brown color]”. Which is truly a travesty, but of course to my ever-watching for racism ears it was like hearing that the sky was blue. It was THAT un-shocking to me because almost every component of the Western World (U.S.A., Europe, anywhere where folks decided to colonize FROM) functions that way. Some may be a bit more tactful about their exclusionary practices but they are exclusionary and discriminatory nonetheless.
To have a industry that is built on not only the exclusion of people of color-who make up the MAJORITY of the entire globe- but also the simultaneous pushing of the minority’s physical qualities as the standard (Euro-centric beauty standards) of what the world should try to live up to is absolutely ludicrous.
So you mean to tell me that some fashion houses would not let Luptia N’yongo, who is “Yes Gawd, You Better Werk” personified, model their clothes on a runway…..

Really though?
Really though?

I wrote about something similar last February regarding Kerry Washington being the first black woman in 40 years to be the lead in a primetime network television program but it all boils down to the fact that everything matters. The faces we see in magazines, the people we see on our TV screen, the complexity of the stories of people who look like us in movies. All of this matters. And if out the womb, you’re constantly being bombarded with images that seem to praise every type of look except the way that you look. You’re gonna start feeling some type of way. So if I love fashion-live it, breathe it, dream about it-but when I look in all the top fashion magazines, see the models on the runways, and listen to the ways designers talk about the perfect “look” (which is almost across the board long, flowing “flexible” hair, stick thin with minimal curves and “fairer” skin type) I’m going to start self-hating one way or another.

And we all know self hate can only lead to this:

no one wants this
no one wants this

Seriously, no one has time to outchea like that.

These were the conundrums our ancestors were in. Looking everywhere for representations of themselves and coming up short.

So you wanna know what they did?

They said ‘screw your Eurocentric beauty standards and the boat they rode in on, we gonna make our own industries’ [this is a loose interpretation, i have no proof that any of my ancestors-literal or figurative-said anything like this]. And that they did, they started their own magazines {Jet/Ebony etc.}, their own clothing lines, their own music and all that jazz. But see there seems to be this pesky little problem with oppression, it won’t let people who don’t follow the rules make it. Or at least not very far [Granted there are several black entertainment publications and hair magazines and other types of industries and models, but no where near as many as there should be]. And the easiest example I can think of oppression trying to not let folks make it is the “othering” of things that are not explicitly Euro-centric. So you have phenomenal movies [like Best Man Holiday or Friday or Boyz n da hood] or awesome magazines [like Ebony or Jet] being categorized as “black things” or things geared solely towards black people and therefore not for everyone. Just because a movie isn’t directly made for you doesn’t mean you can’t watch it or enjoy it. Hell, if that was the case I wouldn’t be able to watch 97% of the moveis/tv shows I watch. And before you get all but non-black movies are made for a “wider audience”/ “speak to the human experience not just the black experience” please show me how any of my humanity was informed by the lives of any of the women in sex and the city, or any of the people on friends or any of the “problems” of the Great Gatsby. Don’t worry I’ll wait….

The point is, if you can’t make room for people of color well I hope you can watch these dollars of color as they go to support industries that are geared toward me. And if you are a fan of an industry that seems to be unbendable in its discriminatory practices and you truly believe there is a way to fix things then follow in the footsteps of organizations like balancediversity who are making a whole heck of a lot of noise in the fashion industry by calling them on their racist bs. And that’s what we all should do, MAKE SOME NOISE. Get all up in their business, READ THEM FOR FILTH until they expand their brand. And if they refuse to comply then you leave and find a way to start your own. But make just as much noise on the way out-taking all the socially conscious people with you. And if you make it big, don’t let any of the people in the original industry discredit you for being different or small time. Patricia Hill Collins (my she-ro of she-roes) said there is liberation in self-definition. So get to self-defining and if somebody tries to get in your way just tell them….

I dont like you….and move on.

That’s all there is to it.

We as a people [black people, women, black women, our brothers and sisters in the economic struggle, LGBTQ folks fighting the fight] are gonna be free someday. I know this because Donny Hathaway told me so  and what Donny says is canon. The question is what side of the revolution you’re gonna be on? If you are in a place of privilege and can’t see yourself helping marginalized people on their way to freedom well I’m gonna need you to move the hell up out the way because it’s happening with you or without you.

Anyways that’s my rant/speech from the soapbox for the month! What ways do you see things getting better in regards to representation in media?

Love and Peace also Happy Black History Month

-Brini Weenie, Briizy,aka @kewl_briize

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”-Psalm 118:6


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