"As artists in the fashion industry, we are the embodiment of free speech. We set the tone for society through the stories we tell."
The relentless killings of African Americans by America's police officers has prompted the fashion industry to speak out about being black and brown in America and viewed through an often tight cultural lens. Calvin Klein model Ebonee Davis issued a specific call to action in an essay for Harper's Bazaar, written the day after Alton Sterling was murdered in Baton Rouge. Davis implored fashion professionals to "neutralize the phobias surrounding black culture" as well as to produce "positive, accurate and inclusive imagery."
"As artists in the fashion industry, we are the embodiment of free speech," she wrote. "We set the tone for society through the stories we tell—fashion, the gatekeeper of cool, decides and dictates what is beautiful and acceptable. And let me tell you, it is no longer acceptable for us to revel in black culture with no regard for the struggles facing the black community," Davis wrote for W Magazine.
My advice to models, fashion designers and public relation agencies: use your personal platforms to speak out against injustice and show your support rather than standing by in silence. Most importantly, love black people as much as you love black music and black culture. Until you do, society will continue to buy into the false notion that people of color are less than—a concept already deeply embedded in America's collective psyche which is reinforced again and again through depictions in media. The time for change is now.
Davis' challenge to the fashion industry went viral, bringing her into contact with a TED Talk coordinator. The result was her talk 'Black Girl Magic in the Fashion Industry'. Davis, born and raised in Seattle, moved to NYC to pursue her modeling dreams. She appeared in the Adidas Originals 'We The Future' campaign, Sports Illustrated and works with Kanye West on Yeezy. The activist hosts a weekly YouTube show called “Pillow Talk” that highlights stories of marginalized people,
AOC featured today another talented black women New York artist, Ashleigh Alexandria, aka The Virgin Artiste. Ashleigh's art deals with social and cultural projections that permeate the worlds of women of color