Black Lives Matter Protests: Fashion Models on the Activist Set

 

The political trends concerning Black Lives Matter have taken off on the busiest cities’ streets of the country since the early days of June. In less than ten days, Black Lives Matter protests have taken place not only among the United States, but also in other countries, like Australia, France, and Italy. 

 

Entertainment policies are facing a critical time in addressing new leaderships and messages, while still dealing with a deep recession due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges that companies and creative directors are fronting, the fashion industry has had several examples that jumped out from their comfort zone and pushed the highlights on the civil rights movements, by being active and present within and along their communities.

Fashion models like Anok Yai (Next Management) and Imaan Hamman (Why Not Model Agency) have been spotted at protests, with proof of pictures and activism shared on their social media handles. There are other models too who have attended these protests, each of them dedicated and passionate in their takes.

 

For Volatile, Eka, Destene, and Veronika shared their impressions on the protests and the political climate the world and the country is living through. As models and creatives, through their activism, they were able to show fresh and vibrant interest in these issues. From fashion models to role models.

 

I am protesting for BLM for many reasons. As a woman of color, this movement has emotional and personal ties for me, in addition to it being my civic duty to exercise my constitutional rights. I’m protesting to support a political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically oppressed. The idea that I may have to bring a child into a world where they will be a target simply from the color of their skin is not one I can accept. The list of police brutality victims has continued to grow since I first heard about BLM and it’s been impossible to sit by and watch the biggest civil rights movement in history happen without taking part - Destene

The first time I heard about the moment was when Trayvon Martin was killed. I was a bit younger than I know and was insecure to use my voice to support Issues back then because I was unsure in if my voice would actually be heard. But now I’m not shy to talk about these injustices that we face. Social media has been used as a great platform to organize movements, educate ourselves and put together protests that can help the cause for black lives matter - Veronika

 

We are in the midst of a pandemic with millions of people who have lost their jobs, are dealing with loved ones who are sick, and are trying to navigate the uncertainly of what to expect next. The government has clearly shown to lack a plan of action in addressing our concerns. With the murder of George Floyd, the countless black lives that have been killed by the police and the amount of grief that we have experienced I feel like it a created it a worldwide spark that enough is enough. Minnesota has had four high profile police murders and in Minneapolis specifically, that community as been targeted by the police for years. I think the protests, riots, and destruction are justified - collectively as people we are angry, tired and sick of our voices being unheard - Eka 

 

In the beginning of the protests, I didn’t know what to expect, and I had the idea that this would be similar to any protests I’ve attended before, but I was mistaken. The over-policing of these peaceful protests has added an element of fear I’ve never experienced. My friends and I have not burdened ourselves with signs as we had to run from tear gas and rubber bullets for many of the first protests. I wore comfortable running shoes and took medical supplies and food. It felt like war. Now that curfews have been lifted and the police have taken a back seat I’m able to enjoy the spirit of the protests more, but the element of fear remains. I still carry medical supplies and a fully charged phone and food and water. I’ve marched over 45 miles in the past week in the heat of California. Luckily the protests are peppered with good Samaritans who provide snacks, water, medical supplies, music, and so much love. There have even been saline solutions left in bottles scattered around the parks we occupy labeled “tear gas solution”. People have handed me pamphlets with instructions on what to do if wrongfully detained and how to contact a lawyer. The energy amongst the protestors is one of overwhelming love and protection. We are all aware of the inherent danger in being there, and you have the feeling that a stranger would risk themselves to help you at any moment - Destene

The emotional turmoil that I have faced during these protests have been so impactful to my life. As black people, we have collective trauma. From 400 years of slavery and still modern-day discrimination and prejudice we as people have all felt each other’s pain, hardship, and deaths. I have been so happy to see everyone, including thousands of white individuals using their privileges to our advantage. It makes me question though that NOW people care about these injustices even though there have been hundreds of cases prior to COVID that have occurred and not many people have been involved. I am emotionally drained, hurt seeing all of these videos circulating around of black people being killed each day by the police and no justice happening. I am emotionally upset and hurt and angry but I am also at peace seeing that there are so many people helping the cause - Veronika

 

I think its extremely important for black and POC models to be apart of this current revolution that’s bringing forth change. To be completely honest, modeling agencies and the fashion industry have used and profited of black models and the culture for years, and try to disguise it as “diversity.” When it comes down to this current moment of showing their solidarity and support for the black models they represent, they’ve been completely silent or believe posting a black square or a BLM graphic on their Instagram is enough. More than ever we need action. What initiatives is your agency or brand going to take to further support the black models you represent? Are you going to take this time to address and have open conversations about the many issues within the fashion industry such as discrimination, appropriation, and overt racism? Are you

going to ensure that your black models can show up on set and have properly equipped/trained MUA/hairstylists? Do you plan to re-access your client relationships that no longer align with your company values? I believe showing up and using our voices collectively as models is important to bring forth change, we can no longer be complacent with how the industry has treated us - Eka

 

I have a predisposition for social activism because I am a black woman that had grown up with hardships and discrimination. As being a black individual I am inclined to participate, support, and be active during these times of hardship to promote change. If we don’t, who will fight for us?!!!?!

 

 

 

 

- Veronika