Puerto Rican supermodel Joan Small wants the fashion world to know : black people are not a trend. Smalls shared an Instagram video calling out the lack of meaningful anti-racist support for the Black Lives Matter movement from the industry she’s embedded in.
By posting pictures of black squares on social media with surface-level promises pledging change, Smalls believes agencies, magazines and brands are jumping on a bandwagon. “You’re part of the cycle that perpetuates these conscious behaviours,” she says in the clip filmed in a hotel room in Paris. “You have continually let us down with your insensitivity and tone deafness and the damage control apologies of, ‘We will do better’. You fall short trying to narrate our stories by toning us down or having them curated by people who haven’t walked or lived a day in our shoes. Well, it’s now time to give us a real seat at the table, because we are worthy, because we are talented, because we are unique.” Smalls thanked those creatives who do “see” her, and who have helped the model in her “constant battle” to progress in an industry where the odds are stacked against her. She then addressed her own ability to be a force for change – one who intends to use actions as well as honest words. Smalls, pledged to give 50 per cent of her salary for the remainder of 2020 to Black Lives Matter organisations, and will encourage others to do the same. “Together we’re stronger and together we can accomplish what is needed.” It’s time for others to stand with her.
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The recent and long standing acts against the black community have been saddening, frustrating and unacceptable. I feel these same emotions when I think about how my industry, the fashion world, is responding. It is time for this industry to do more than post a black square and say they’ll “Do Better!” It’s time for us to see the change starting from the ground up. Give us a seat at the table, include us, give us a chance, because we are worthy, talented and unique. There have been so many times where I’ve had to face issues against my race within this industry because I was their token black girl. The campaigns and editorials I had to share while my counterparts got to achieve that on their own. Or that my hair was an issue or that I made a show or campaign too ethnic, the list goes on and on. This industry that I love has profited from us but has never considered us equal. This. Stops. Now. It’s time for the fashion industry to stand up and show their solidarity. Time for you all to give back to these communities and cultures which you draw so much inspiration from. I do want to thank those that did see me for me and gave me a chance. Those that helped me fight my way to where I am today. Thank you, thank you for doing what you knew to be right versus what others said should be done. You will help us be the leaders of change. In saying all of this, I also pledge to donate 50% of my salary for the remainder of 2020 to Black Lives Matter organizations. I know I can’t just talk about change, I have to be a force for it. I encourage and will continue to encourage brands within this industry to do the same and give back. Let’s all be the change we want and need to see. These battles are long from over but together we’re stronger and together we can accomplish what is needed. #WeAreNotATrend #blacklivesmatter