It’s since been noted that the fashion industry hasn’t always been quite informed on the task of understanding Africans or their African descendants [African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino…]. Although residing in the age of information, we are not surprised by the lack of knowledge.
However, in any realm cultural sensitivity should be of great importance, especially in an industry where design inspiration is usually pulled from all types of traditional influences. It’s one thing to find inspiration in a specific culture’s garb and replicate it. But it is utterly disgusting to try and embody another culture through mimicking what you’ve perceived o be an accurate social characteristic.
The nonsense of distasteful representation of Africans continues; this time in the name of Halloween “fun”. Just this past Saturday noted Italian photographers, insiders, designers and the lot gathered in Milan for #DiscoAfrica.
At the event guest dressed in outfits that they presumed were fitting representations of the African. Although this party was thrown to pay homage and celebrate African influences in fashion such as veteran model, the unconquerable Grace Jones. It turned into a spectacle in which the blatant disrespect and unacceptable views of African people were made evident.
One might raise the argument that the nature of this event is based around sheer lack of knowledge. But this notion of parading around in black face “for fun” is no longer excusable.
Just a short 6 months ago, in the May 2013 editorial for Vogue Netherlands models appeared in black face stirring up these same issues. So what does that say about the state of the fashion industry? It appears that the community is uneducated, right? Wrong. If this type of incredulous behavior persists and people keep responding with disdain, why keep doing it? Why is this something that keeps being showcased time and time again?
There is a thin line between ignorance and apathy, it is evident that some of these individuals are aware but they choose not to acknowledge their distasteful behavior. You can’t constantly say ” forgive them because they know not what they do.” To be unaware that this type of racial profiling is wrong can no longer be a crutch to rest on, especially with the power of the internet, news and social media. This is an open slap in the face to African people and their descendants because it is a conscious and continuous disregard. What has to be done for more people to recognize that making fun of a culture through racist (yes, I said racist) associations whether purposeful or not is NOT flattering?!
To the international fashion community and anyone under informed:
CULTURE IS NOT A COSTUME!!! Get that thought in your heads and cut it out! Be inspired to create tasteful representations and if you are unsure of what is appropriate, consult someone that looks like what you want to represent. Apathy is a far uglier disease than cancer, get well soon.
Until next time… Street Intellectuals stay positive and progressive!