This is an article written by our founder Aysha Jones, published on Nyhetsbyrån Järva. If you want to read the original article, click here (in Swedish).
This is a translated version of the article:
I say yes to this headline. In every language I speak, I say yes to this very clickbaty, spot on, headline. Why? Well I will tell you if you have got time for a cup of tea and allow me to pour the kettle.
“why did this even become a thing?!”
Around 2004 I did my first public appearance on the Swedish fashion and beauty industry scene. I took my first nervous steps at the designer Bea Szenfeld’s fashion show at Stockholm fashion week. A show with ONLY BLACK models, the first of its kind (at least what I know of).
And those of you with privileged minds who think that this is “reversed racism” and that “separatism hurts more” etc etc should be quiet for a moment and keep on reading, maybe read someone else’s blog or wait for my upcoming YouTube-video about this.
Bea Szenfeld’s show woke a question in me which I’m, to this day, still fighting to accept; “why did this even become a thing?!”. Why isn’t this more of a non-issue than what it actually is? Up until today, in 2020, we still cheer when lifestyle magazines put a black person on the cover *insert face-palm or whatever gtfo emoji here*, or when a brand choose to use other people then the super skinny to promote itself. I’m no different, all the magazines with a black person on the cover that I bought over the years but never read (just to raise the sales numbers) can prove that. But lord have mercy, my patience has run out just like their arguments to prove the opposite!
It is now time to boycott all brands that are not inclusive or diverse. The same should be for the brands that are in fact inclusive, but won’t put the same demands on their collaborators, PR agencies and hired influencers.
“Too often I hear employees at these agencies trash poc influencers, artists and people they don’t identify with.”
In today’s digital society, major PR agencies and brands have got far too much power to determine, and indirectly influence, who is seen and heard in the fashion and beauty industry. And all too often I hear employees at these agencies trash poc influencers, artists and people they don’t identify with. We are invited so that we can be included in the picture, but who meets us smiling at the door, shows us around or even includes us in their press releases without having to invite ourselves?
I know many who will agree with me, that´s great, I do thank you in advance. But do you all know what would be even better? That would be if you, the next time you are invited to an occasion where everyone look the same, actually point out to the arranger that it is very exclusive and even distasteful. Point out that it is a pity that none of your favorite poc bloggers, influencers etc was not invited. Got balls? Walk up to the one who is probably the only poc’s in the room and bond with them, give a shout out on your social media channels, follow their channels and do not unfollow after a few days. Yup it’s a thing. This in itself sends signals to both the brands and the agencies. Believe me, they need to be called out in their diversity scam. It is a scam because most of the time, the desire for more diversity and inclusion is driven solely by a single person in the company who truly and genuinely believes in everyone’s equal value and wants to see changes, but the company itself is generally unconcerned about it. However, those in power will only listen when their cash cows stops giving milk.
Be like “Mamma Mu” and be friends with “Kråkan”, see how well that went!
“What will you do to help me change the world?”
As I’ve always been “Kråkan”, I can say that all help is appreciated. I remember very well when I was recently talking to “Arga tanten” during press week and she asked me why I hadn’t been at a beauty event the day before. She was surprised that the make up brand, which is still one of the few with a wide range of colors for all skin tones, did not have a single non-white guest. The answer was simple; I wasn’t there because I wasn’t invited (like so many other times). No other poc influencer was invited either, I know most of them so I have personally asked them the question. And now, before you make this into a “she is sulking because she was not invited”-thing, let me completely shamelessly say that most PR agencies and brands get their tips from me about who to keep track of that’s poc. Whether I’ll send them a list of names or that they themselves stay updated on who I follow and interact with on social media, it is a fact I do not intend to humble. I’m actually proud and very happy about it, because in some aspects I’m “Mamma Mu” and then I have an obligation to do the same as I demand from others.
So, back to my clickbait headline. What will you do to help me change the world? And how did you get to experience these things that I write about? Tell me, I’m curious and would love to continue this dialogue.