Naomi is not just sitting on the sidelines and complaining, she is actually approaching the institutions formally and making core demands and getting core results which she speaks off in this video below.
I upset many people who criticized Iman for pulling the race card and I still stand behind everything written. I once managed an agency in the UK for six years, making it one of the top 15 agencies in the very competitive fashion capital London. An agency that initially started as an all-black high fashion agency before expanding. Until the UK recession hit, I decided to abort the leisure industry in the UK.
I had core experience working with black models initially (outside Africa) and also European models. There are enough black businesses that can support black female models, from TV shows, magazines, and designers. Where I usually get irritated is that African/Black businesses do not even support black models.
This is where I have an issue with the race card in fashion. Our popular lifestyle/fashion magazines hardly ever feature fashion shoots with Black models, and we are not even talking covers yet. I am only away from 1 black magazine (hard copy) across the world that uses black models for their covers, and that is FashIzBlack. Every other ” black fashion” magazine uses celebrities for covers.
It is even apparent in Africa if you do not believe you can have a quick look at our magazine directory of “fashion magazines”. The excuse, from my experience, is the same excuse white magazines use, black models don’t sell. Yet it is racist when European magazines use this excuse.
What makes it even worst is, most of the “black” owned businesses and even bloggers never appreciate, promote or expose a black model until he/she has been hired by a well known European designer, had a feature spread in a popular European magazine, or walk lots of times on the main fashion weeks. The same people will not fly a model from anywhere in the world for a job but will be more than willing to do so simply because she has credentials working with a known European designer. Isn’t that ironic?
Hence why I don’t have any sympathy when complaining about racism. Because the state of black models could accelerate 20 times more if even our black-owned/centered media, organizations, and designers did not always wait until a black model had the approval of a European business before working with them.
I commend Naomi Campbell for actually making changes and not just talking, and also how well she handled the interview. In fact, she deserves a lifetime achievement award. However, I think there will make much progress if we took just as much responsibility for pushing our own models. Until then complaining about the racist western fashion industry is of no use to my time.
It is not a question of if the industry is racist or not or how well they respond to your plea or begging. It is a simple matter of if you have been building the platform that can create and launch black models. If you ask me, Naomi Campbell might as well divert her attention to businesses like FashIzBlack, topblackmodels.co.uk, Top Model Of Colour, or yours truly FashionGHANA.com and every other organization that creates a platform for emerging fashion models of color.
That way, you won’t have to worry about what will happen when the “racist” industry changes its mind again. Whilst she is at it, I think we should all write an email, tweet, or Facebook message to our favorite “black” magazines and ask them to support more black models and not only the famous ones.
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