Fashion has always been an escape for me. With everything going on in the real world, there's nothing more comforting than a really good editorial or runway show. Unfortunately though, even fashion isn't safe from ignorance. Ulyana Sergeenko and Miroslava Duma's offensive Instagram controversy is beyond ridiculous. Like it's 2018 people, haven't we been through this time and time again?
Like many #fashun-obsessed individuals, I've been glued to everything occurring at Paris Couture Fashion Week. To the dismay of many, the glamorous gowns and futuristic makeup have been overshadowed by something much, much uglier. The ferocity of the runways looks are merely an after-thought, thanks to the ignorance of fashion designer Ulyana Sergeenko and blogger Miroslava Duma, which because of social media, has been seen the world over.
Here's what happened: Duma, a Russian tech entrepreneur and street-style star posted a beautiful bouquet of flowers to her Instagram Story sent by designer (and fellow Russian) Sergeenko. Attached was a note that referenced the 2011 Kanye West and Jay-Z song, "Ni**as in Paris," in no fewer terms: "To my n***** in Paris," it read.
Pause and let that sink in for a second. In 2018, someone can be so bold to not only send a note referencing the word n****, but the recipient has the audacity to post it on their public Instagram account for 1.6 million followers to see.
Truth be told, if I got upset or annoyed every time something racially insensitive happened, I would be holed up in my room. As a black woman, I've been raised since birth to recognize that racism and ignorance is everywhere. I make the conscious effort to recognize though that getting bogged down by that notion only lets the bad eggs win. I choose to live my life surrounded by amazing people that are aware, and thrive off of the beauty of diversity in this world. Honestly, I didn't even get annoyed until their respective responses came to light.
Sergeenko's initial response on Instagram was completely tone-deaf.
I was born in a small town in East Kazakhstan, my daughter is half Armenian. Kanye West is one of my most favourite musicians and NP is one of my most favourite songs. And yes, we call each other the N word sometimes when we want to believe that we are just as cool as they guys who sing it.
That statement is worse than the actual card. First, just because she's from East Kazakhstan and her daughter is half-Armenian, that isn't considered some type of pass into a secret society in which members wear hooded robes and chant the n**** word.
Many historians have research that show Armenians and Ethiopians may share DNA in large amounts. Studies even show that there was a migration of Kushites into Eurasia. The Kingdom of Kush was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, which was located at the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara. That area is now Sudan and South Sudan. Eventually, there was even a prehistoric migration from Asia back to Africa.
Basically what Sergeenko is trying to say is that since her daughter might be half black, she gets a pass. She continues on to say that her and her friends love West, especially that particular song. She rounded off her lame excuse of an apology — digging herself in deeper — by saying that her and her friends use that word to feel cool.
I have many friends that love Kanye, but they know that their fandom doesn't make it right to use that word. And mentioning that her daughter is half Armenian is also a #what moment. The real issue: Is she going to teach her daughter the history of her ancestors? Or tell her that it's okay to use racially insensitive language that have caused generations of damage?
I have always tried to understand the whole argument that if black people use n****, anyone can use it. African and African Americans are not a homogeneous group of people. I personally choose not to use that word because I've been on the receiving end of it used negatively. The shame I should not have felt in that occurrence is not something I don't want to be reminded of (or feel ever again), so that's my preference. If others choose to use it, that is a personal preference. Due its origins, it's not a word that's okay to use by other races as a term of endearment. Period. Even if they think it's cool.
For her part, the recipient of the bouquet/note Duma also issued a disappointing statement, and is now facing fierce backlash from the fashion community. Duma has been removed from the board of Tots, a Dallas-based children's company she co-founded. Naomi Campbell asked Duma directly why she wrote it, and voiced her complete disbelief/disapproval. Comments have now been disabled from Duma's Instagram account, but Twitter is still ablaze with umbrage.
All in all, what should have been an amazing couture week was blighted, but instead of letting the people out there that choose to live in ignorance affect me, I'll continue to get excited for New York Fashion Week.