Supermodel Joan Smalls wants the fashion industry to know that black people are not a trend. Smalls plans to donate 50% of her 2020 earnings to Black Lives Matter, Smalls is among the first individuals within the industry to pledge a long-term financial commitment to the human rights movement. Smalls wants thereto be long-term change and accountability when it comes to racism and exclusivity in the industry. “When you see the world imploding you ask yourself ‘as an individual what can I do,’” said Smalls speaking over the phone from Paris. “As models, we have this incredible platform where we can create awareness. I thought if I’m going to use it, I should do so with purpose and [focus] on giving back.”
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