Racial injustice has run rampant in the United States for centuries. Over the decades, it has taken on different shapes and forms but has never gone away. And the fashion industry has been notoriously silent on race issues over time. But as the industry has taken some steps toward inclusivity, there is still an immense amount of work to be done. With so many voices calling out for justice, it's long been crucial for everyone to stand in support of the Black community and vocally condemn the racial injustices Black people experience on a daily basis. These Black fashion professionals' posts about supporting Black people, racial injustice, and more are required reading in terms of educating yourself, checking your privilege, and solidifying concrete ways to fight for change for the Black community right now and long after.
Since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020, protests against police brutality and systemic racism have broken out across the globe. People are calling for justice for Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery who were killed because of the color of their skin earlier this year, and so many more lives lost. There’s a lot of information circulating about how to be the best white ally, how to show support beyond donating, how to protest both at home and on the streets, and more. Whether you’re looking for guidance or the words to express how you feel, these Black fashion professionals’ quotes are insightful, powerful messages on exactly what’s going on and how we can all better support and fight for the Black community.
Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue
I’m not talking about canceling people or even calling them out necessarily – I’m talking about holding brands, magazines, talent, etc. ACCOUNTABLE. You can post all the Black Lives Matter quotes you want, but if you aren’t using your seat at the table, your social channels, your connections to actually speak up and make change kindly miss me with bullsh*t.
Danielle Prescod, Style Director for BET
What are you going to do in the next few days, weeks, and months? We are begging not to be killed, yes, as that is the most EXTREME thing that can happen, but I have been asking for you all to not be sh*tty racists for the last four years of my life. All [of] that other stuff, that escalates to killing. And you all ignore it. You don’t help when BOF throws a f*cked up party and you say nothing; when you say that someone is only included in something because they are Black, that’s racist … So WHITE WOMEN fix it. Fix yourselves. Realize that your microaggressions are the problem. Talk to your children. Find them some Black friends. SHOW me you care instead of telling me.
See Prescod's full IGTV video here.
Gabby Prescod, Style Lead & Senior Fashion Market Editor for Bustle
It’s not enough to be not racist. You have to be actively anti-racist. So we need to take those steps. Post about it. Get loud. Make calls. Do whatever you can to make sure your voice is heard, and people know that you’re not okay about this. And for the people who are like, ‘Oh I posted, I’ve done this. I’ve done my part.’ You posted one story that will be up for 24 hours about how the police officer was arrested. Not enough. Not enough. You need to be actively against this.
See Prescod's full IGTV video here.
Nana Agyemang, Social Media Editor for New York Magazine and The Cut, Founder of Every Stylish Girl
Don’t just donate. Diversify your companies. Incorporate supporting Black-owned businesses and creators into your daily life ... Stop just biting off our culture. Open your purse, not just during this time but regularly donate. Change your leadership positions ... We are tired of engaging with white people on the topic of race. Use your privilege to make a change. This revolution isn’t just a hashtag or a trend. Nothing will get better if you don’t do better.
Naomi Elizée, Associate Market Editor for Vogue
Please be cognizant of the fact that it is not the job of your black friends and peers to educate you on racism, systemic oppression, and the effects of it in our community. It is not our job to help you understand it. It is not our job to help you unpack the injustices we face every day. It is not the job of the oppressed to teach you about oppression. It's on YOU to do the work. It's on you to do the research. It is your job to educate yourself and the people close to you who have been noticeably silent during this time.
Chrissy Rutherford, contributor at Harper’s Bazaar
It’s not enough to just say 'I’m not racist' if you aren’t doing the work. It’s hurtful to see people being silent about the never-ending murders and oppression of black people in the U.S. I don’t care how many followers you have, non-black people should be spreading awareness, educating themselves, sharing anti-racism resources, and donating if they have the means to do so. It’s also imperative to understand it is not our job to teach you how to not be racist. Finally: Check in on your black friends!
Nikki Ogunnaike, GQ Deputy Fashion Director
The first step, I think, in addition to learning about and checking your privilege is putting your money where your mouth is and donating to organizations that are constantly under threat for doing the work so many of us are unwilling to do. Sharing an Instagram on stories is easy, but if you’ve got the means maybe pull up with a bit of 💰💰💰
Kenya Hunt, Fashion Director for Grazia UK
While a post on social media has its value, please do back it up with a commitment to fighting racism offline on a day to day basis in your companies, families and social circles — ESPECIALLY when the riots end and the news cycle moves on and this scroll shifts back to banana bread and selfies. Donate to bailout and legal funds. Have the uncomfortable conversations. Examine your own behavior and biases. Stop waiting for and relying on Black people to explain how racism works. Invest in Black businesses. And vote for officials who are actively anti-racist.
Marielle Bobo, Fashion and Beauty Director for Essence
I am tired. Tired of how routine violence against African Americans at the hands of white people continues to persist. My heart hurts. For George, for Ahmaud, for Breonna. For the way too many lives we've lost. For the Black bodies that continue to serve as prey in America's reign of racial terror. No driving while Black. No jogging while Black. No shopping while Black. No breathing while Black. No being me while Black.
Jessica C. Andrews, Deputy Fashion Editor for Bustle
It’s all too much. #GeorgeFloyd 💔 The fact that he pleaded for his life & they ignored him. The fact that this murderous cop has shared racist posts and worn white supremacist paraphernalia before. The fact that the cop didn’t remove his knee from George’s neck until medics arrived... 15 minutes passed as he laid there motionless & dying.
TK Wonder, Rapper
What stands out to me the most from MLK’s entire quote regarding riots are these words: ‘As long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.’ … No state official wants to address how patient black people have been over the years. Centuries of patiently and peacefully protesting. Centuries of patiently waiting for justice. I do not want violence. However, America you have no one but yourself to blame.
Salem Mitchell, Model
You don’t have to agree, but it’s hurtful to counter what we’re feeling, and it’s a waste of our time [to] argue with you when we need to be fighting for our rights. You can form your own opinions at all times, but if you see what’s going on right now in this country and you make it a priority to argue with black feelings while you’ve remained silent on your platform, that is the privilege and the problem.
Elaine Welteroth, former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue
If you love me, if you love our culture, our music, our TikTok dances, our movies, our style, our bodies, then it’s time for you to find a way to FIGHT with us when we are under siege. Stop waiting for us to say something you can RT, and start digging into your own soul. Find a way to put yourself (& your TL) on the line. With us. For us. NOW is the time.
Tamu McPherson, Founder of All the Pretty Birds
Whether you are in the U.S., Europe, or any place on the globe where brown and indigenous people suffer inequality if in your core you are anti-racist, you need to show up and be ready to tear down the walls. It’s going to be scary, uncomfortable, radical, unprecedented, and it will take courage; just like this little girl speaking in the front of a room of strangers and adults.
Click here to see the full video shown in the above clip.
Aurora James, Founder of Brother Vellies
So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space.