W ould you believe that this article was going to be originally titled "Black lives Matter, Inc." ? Before making any snap judgements, there's a few valid reasons for playing with fire to make a point.
For the longest time, we thought that we were among many who felt these issues, first confronted in the 60s and 70s (a period range that will most likely be remined in fashion yet again, to be sure), would be non-issues and yet every year...no, every week... we find how little has changed. And every day we see various aspects of regression interpreted such as over-compensatory measures such as victim hyper-empowerment and justification of reverse discrimination as ineffective stagnancy that holds us all back. In earlier eras, it was the recognition of safety in numbers and the power of collective protest; unification of all who were disadvantaged propelled the acceleration of equality for women, gays and non-whites. Today, it really boils down to who everyone who hasn't enjoyed an automatic advantage that's still a default, i.e. the straight white male. And yet, to pillar them makes us no better, for it misses the entire point of addressing the crux of the problem: how discrimination in any form only brings further problems that affect us all.
Another reason for the consideration of that original title was Fashion Observed feels that this subject needs to be mentioned, but not capitalized on and yet, here we are. Say nothing and be complicit. Say something on a professional platform and be an opportunist. Are we truly supporting the voices that need to be heard by proclaiming our affinity with the causes brought forward, or are we riding on the coattails of this explosive cultural response to hatred to garner woke likes and follows? When we in fashion translate it into how physical trends will come up or what will be the flavour of the moment in fashion imagery, why are we going there? Is it to empower the disadvantaged, or to merely find another more sophisticated manner in which to make a profit via engineered empathy? Yes, it's what fashion does and is this the time and the place? Is it ever? Has privilege blinded us to our mercenary avarice? What have we become?
For those who have any doubt, Fashion Observed has long supported and will always support diversity, inclusivity and equality; thumb through every social media platform posting if you must for your proof.
People should be judged by the merit of their character and the quality of their performance and actions, not their physical identity, personal image, the genetic expression of their physical characteristics and who they date and love.
This affects neighbours, coworkers, and friends who are really the family we choose. We cannot ignore the reality because all these voices... the ones experiencing discrimination... especially at the hands of those who are taxpayer-paid to serve and protect all of us as #BlackLivesMatter (and now #BlackTransLivesMatters) reveals, have been telling us how bad things still are. How can we even begin to dare feigning surprise? You'd have to be living under a rock to claim that this is something new. It's even long been in our entertainment and we still weren't getting it. We all share responsibility for allowing things to have come this far. Whether we turn our backs or turn a blind eye because it inconveniences us or threatens economic aims is, either way, a horrid reason on our part. This cannot be our world nor our future. We can and need to be agents of positive change. That means giving this situation... and all the ramifications it holds... the attention it deserves, not the kind of attention our industries and even this blog normally brings when viewing cultural shifts and watershed moments in our collective conduct.
We have a chance to change everything. Fashion is having the hard conversation, including diversity at every public turn, but that's not even scratching the surface. We can (and I predict we will) do more. Yes, ultimately all people should be offered an equal place at humanity's table and we need to ensure, in our quest for equality, that we don't initiate reverse discrimination to achieve the overdue fairness for that will only encourage backlash and bring us right back to where we've now been a few times. But for now, giving the platform to those who are speaking up and hurting the most is an apt start. Fashion Observed asks for you to talk and continue to talk among each other, to awaken us all so we know where we stand, where we need to be, the distance between those two points and the way to get to the more enlightened one. Fashion Observed asks you to listen to those living this reality, for they are speaking. They are sharing it all on social media. See it. Acknowledge it. And do something, anything to make this a better world beyond posting a few platitudes to appear woke. Be the change we want to be.
Fashion leads. Fashion influences. This needs us together. Somewhere there is a win-win. Let's crowdsource what that can and should be. If you have resources to share, please post them for us to disseminate in our comments section or do so on Instagram (link is in heading) when this article announcement gets posted. Thank you.
PS Thanks to SumofUs for these suggestions we've co-opted as starting points):
"The Skin We're In" by Desmond Cole
"Bread Out of Stone" by Dionne Brand
Donate: No One is Illegal
And off our Twitter feed:
Donate: Black Lives Matter - UK Support