Thursday, August 6, 2020

Y'all are doing this on purpose: Another Fashion Brand Makes a Racist "Mistake"

I cannot believe in the year of our Lord 2020, Black folk need to tell White led brands to not be racist, but here we are, once again.

Marni, a "quirky" fashion brand is out here at the same time as daily Black Lives Matter protests weekly, thought it would be a good idea to do it's "Jungle Mood" campaign. This jungle mood, that featured numerous Black models covered in body paint, grass skirts, wooden jewelry (none of which were Marni pieces), these elements playing on the trope of the "uncivilized Black Person. 

In this same campaign, even more problematic is this photo that Marni has since removed is this "fashionable" photo of, you know, a Black man posing in ankle chains.
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Diet Prada picked up on this story, sharing on their IG
"Marni’s new campaign is more nuanced but no less problematic. With the models styled in a smorgasbord of ethnic accessories like Bayong wood necklaces from the Philippines, Caribbean woven grass hats, and other non-descript wooden jewelry (none of which are Marni), the images begin alluding to racist, colonial stereotypes of Black people as primitive, uncivilized, and unmodern people. One model is even painted in clay, evoking tribal bodypaint. In another image that’s since been deleted from the brand’s Instagram account, a link of chains near the model’s feet resulted in some terrible shackle-like optics."
Marni has since "apologized", saying “What was intended to be a campaign that celebrated the beauty of the Afro-Brazilian culture through the lens of Brazilian photographer Edgar Azevedo had the opposite impact. Our oversights across the review process are unacceptable – and for that, we are incredibly sorry.
"The team at Marni is passionately committed to championing equity and celebrating the beauty of diverse cultures throughout the world. As we endeavor to create a more equitable world, through fashion and shared humanity, we sincerely regret that our efforts caused further pain. We have removed these images and we are redoubling our efforts to ensure our processes are carried out with thoughtfulness and intentionality through a strong equity lens. Our entire staff is committed to using this moment as an opportunity to leverage our platform to support and empower more voices and creators of color whose talent and insights are instrumental to creating a more inclusive and diverse fashion industry."
What do you think: fashion faux-pas or trying to tap into the "Black Rage" marketing?

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To Be Negro in This Country: A Week in Black History

I shared this on my IG last night and I felt the need to share it here:

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” James Baldwin.
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“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” James Baldwin. There is something special about this week in Blackness: James Baldwin (painted here by Beauford Delaney in 1945) Benjamin Mays, Ralph Bunche, and Pres. Barack Obama’s birthdays, the anniversary of the loss of Toni Morrison, and the anniversary of the voting rights bill being signed in 1965 as well as numerous other events all coincide with the 1st seven days of August. What Baldwin says is true. Being what they called negro then and what we call Black now and to pay even the least amount of attention is to be enraged. Unfortunately that rage, the rage of a legacy of centuries of injustice, is written off by critics: folks who would call us “ungrateful” today and “uppity” in James Baldwin’s day. They conflate our calls for equality as an exchange of supremacy rather than a dismantling of it. They call our pursuit for civil rights a riot when Rev Dr. MLK, Jr called a riot “the language of the unheard.” which Black folk have been for too long: unheard. They confused our chants for our lives to matter as the only lives that matter, not realizing that matter is the minimum, and that in a country with the promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the Matter in Black Lives Matter only addresses the life part. As we remember the voices who came before us, whether they sang “go down Moses”, “lift ev’ey voice”, “we shall overcome”, or “we gon’ be alright”, whether they chanted “freedom now” or “Black Lives Matter” we join in the fight, a fight that will one day quell our rage. #reclaimedlivin #blm #blacklivesmatter #jamesbaldwin #blackbloggers #blackcreatives #blackwriters #blackbloggersunited #browngirlbloggers #blackblogger #blackculture #blackgirlswhoblog #blackcontentcreators #Melaninbloggers #blackswhoblog #blackcreatives #writer #fashionblogger #Styleblogger #bblogger #lifestyleblogger #phillyblogger #21ninety

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There is something special about this week in Blackness: James Baldwin (painted here by Beauford Delaney in 1945) Benjamin Mays, Ralph Bunche, and Pres. Barack Obama’s birthdays, the anniversary of the loss of Toni Morrison, and the anniversary of the Voting Rights Bill being signed in 1965, as well as numerous other events, all coincide with the 1st seven days of August.

What Baldwin says is true. Being what they called negro then and what we call Black now and to pay even the least amount of attention is to be enraged. 

Unfortunately, that rage, the rage of a legacy of centuries of injustice, is written off by critics: folks who would call us “ungrateful” today and “uppity” in James Baldwin’s day. They conflate our calls for equality as an exchange of supremacy rather than a dismantling of it. They call our pursuit for civil rights a riot when Rev Dr. MLK, Jr called a riot “the language of the unheard.” which Black folk have been for too long: unheard. They confused our chants for our lives to matter as the only lives that matter, not realizing that matter is the minimum and that in a country with the promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the Matter in Black Lives Matter only addresses the life part.

As we remember the voices who came before us, whether they sang “go down Moses”, “lift ev'ry voice”, “we shall overcome”, or “we gon’ be alright”, whether they chanted “freedom now” or “Black Lives Matter” we join in the fight, a fight that will one day quell our rage.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

So, I did a thing: Wired Magazine

September issue of Wired Magazine
You know, if you have been reading anything I have written, you know I am pretty outspoken when it comes to racism, bigotry, colorism, and the like. Especially on TikTok, where I have not only vented my feelings on racism but also my feelings on the lack of a concerted response by TikTok on the racism Black creators have been and continue to face on their platform.

Well, it finally caught up with me.

Writer Jason Parham, reached out a few months ago to ask me my opinion and experience on the platform for a piece he was working on. That piece became the cover story of this month's Wired Magazine.

So, I gave Jason the TEA. First, we talked about one of the trends on the app I found most troubling, the "Hot Cheeto Girl":
"For Whitney Roberts, a 35-year-old writer and podcast host in Philly, trends like the Hot Cheeto Girl have a troubling history that exemplify just one way already marginalized people are subtly debased on the app. “There were little white girls slicking their edges and drawing their eyebrows all weird,” Roberts says. “They would wrap tape around their fingers to be their fake nails. They'd put hoops on. When you call them out, it's, ‘Anyone of any race can be a Hot Cheeto Girl.’ No sweetheart, we know what you're doing. We know that the Hot Cheeto Girl is just a derivative of the ghetto girl, the hoodrat, the Shanaynay that people used to call Black and Latinx women.”"
Photograph by Jessica Pettiway
Later, I shared my experience on TikTok, which, to be honest, has not been great.  
"“People were leaving monkey emoji in my comments over a video where I was talking about clothes, something frivolous and funny. In another video, I was just talking about 4c hair, about a different grade of hair, and why people shouldn't necessarily diminish it. That got taken down. But there are whole blackface videos that won't get taken down.”"
I have been punished more for just talking about being Black than many of the racists on the platform. I have been shadowbanned, had videos removed, my sounds removed, had videos sit in "review" for weeks, and so on, all with no explaination. None. Worse, when I reached out to the platform about any of these incidents at their "help" and "support" prompts, I am met with more radio silence. 

So much for professionalism.

The reason why I stay on the app? My community. Their support, discussions and passion is why I stay. I am proud of us, proud of the work we have done, proud of our discussions and growth. 

Anywho, thank you to Jason Parham and Wired Magazine for featuring me in this story. Needless I have to grab a few copies, for me and for my mama and 'nem!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Black Mom's Matter

I shared this on my IG earlier but I needed to share here:

I am so excited to be a mom. I feel blessed and grateful. 

But as a Black Mom to be, I can not say that I am not nervous about the process of birth. The medical field has been wicked to Black Women since J. Marion Sims used enslaved teenage girls for his experiments for gynecology without any anesthesia. 

Sha-Asia Washington was 26 years old when she went to Woodhull hospital with high blood pressure. She went untreated for two days - high blood pressure (preeclampsia) is extremely dangerous and should be treated immediately. She died during C-section delivery.

They left her to die. They ignored her for 2 days and left her to die.

This was preventable. She should be here with her partner Juwan Lopez, and baby girl Khloe. Instead, they are left to mourn her.

But as a 35-year-old Black mother, I have heard too many stories of women like me: women like Sha-Asia, Nicole Thea, Amber Isaac, and too many others, my heart breaks.

Sha-Asia, like Nicole Thea and Amber Issac, and so many others before them were ignored, their pain minimized, their symptoms dismissed, their lives, to these institutions, and the lives of their families didn’t matter. It is time long past to hold these organizations and the entire medical field accountable for the ways in which it has wronged Black People.

Here’s how you can help:

You can contribute to the GoFundMe set up for her

Support midwifery, doula, and advocacy-based organizations run by Black folk and people of color that are serving their communities. (Tag some of your faves below) Here are a few I have seen:

@phillydoulacoop
@doulasofcolor
@phillydoula
@myphillydoula
@womb.ish

I am personally looking for a black doula/midwife. If you are in the Philly area, please drop in my DMs.

Black mothers are THREE TIMES more likely to die in childbirth. From NPR:

"According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health. Put another way, a black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition."

It's time to not only address but eliminate these racial disparities so that more Black mamas can come home with their babies. Black mamas matter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mask Off: Danielle Bernstein keeps getting accused of copying brands


Second Wind/WeWoreWhat/Diet Prada
UPDATED 7/23/2020

Let's face it: masks are now a part of our daily lives (or if you're smart, they should be.) But that certainly doesn't mean they shouldn't be stylish. After all, you're going to wear it, might as well look good.

With additions such as a mask chain that is not only functional but a stylish touch. Latina led brand Second Wind which launched did just that, creating luxurious masks and mask chains that would make any fashionista excited. Unfortunately, a firestorm has begun for both companies. 

As Diet Prada reports:
"You’d think @weworewhat would have learned not to leave a paper trail by now. @americaninfluencercouncil founding member Danielle Bernstein announced today that her @shopweworewhat line would shortly be stocking linen masks adorned with a safety chain.
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It’s a cute idea— and she appears to have lifted it directly from @bysecondwind , who began offering masks June 1st. On June 29, Danielle reached out to the brand via DM and hustled some free masks. On July 2, she messaged again with a heads up... she was launching her own masks. Don’t worry, though, according to Danielle they’re not a copy!
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Well, she finally showed them today and they’re nearly identical, from the linen fabrication down to the unique loop design at the sides to hold the chain. Not sure how this is helping to “sustain the integrity” of influencer marketing “for the ultimate benefit of society” as per the AIC’s goals, but at least there’s one bright side. After her carefree summer galavanting around the Hamptons, Danielle is finally wearing a mask."





You’d think @weworewhat would have learned not to leave a paper trail by now. @americaninfluencercouncil founding member Danielle Bernstein announced today that her @shopweworewhat line would shortly be stocking linen masks adorned with a safety chain. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s a cute idea— and she appears to have lifted it directly from @bysecondwind , who began offering masks June 1st. On June 29, Danielle reached out to the brand via DM, and hustled some free masks. On July 2, she messaged again with a heads up... she was launching her own masks. Don’t worry, though, according to Danielle they’re not a copy! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Well, she finally showed them today and they’re nearly identical, from the linen fabrication down to the unique loop design at the sides to hold the chain. Not sure how this is helping to “sustain the integrity” of influencer marketing “for the ultimate benefit of society” as per the AIC’s goals, but at least there’s one bright side. After her carefree summer galavanting around the Hamptons, Danielle is finally wearing a mask. • #bysecondwind #wearadamnmask #wearamask #weworewhat #daniellebernstein #shopweworewhat #chain #sunglasseschain #accessory #mask #facemask #faceshield #granny #linen #overalls #neutral #asustainable #ecofriendly #receipts #papertrail #influencer #americaninfluencercouncil #blogger #fashion #ootd #wiwt #dietprada
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Direct Messages between the two brands reveal just how sketchy the entire "exchange" was. When Second Wind offers Danielle the mask, why would she receive it, fully "knowing" she was producing something extremely similar?
Also, note when Danielle told Second Wind about her producing her own version of the masks:

Karen Perez, owner, and creator of Second Wind shared the following on her IG Story:

She also told Page Six
“I was really excited she liked our masks, I started it two weeks after the pandemic. I literally put my blood sweat and tears into it … she reached out to me to support me, why didn’t she tell me she was working on the same thing? She used the same kind of chain and the same fabric, and colors as me, that really upset me. When I saw her masks I was heartbroken … I am fed up, for me — as a woman and a minority … I have to stand up for myself. She’s a phony, she stands up for minorities, but she’s ripping us off, thinking we only have a tiny voice.”
This is not the 1st time Bernstein has been accused of ripping off a brand.

Two years ago, Diet Prada also reported her new jewelry line for Nordstrom bore eerie similarities with another, more famous jewelers; one of whom was Tiffany and Co.


According to People, Foundrae, one of the lines that accused Bernstein of copying spoke out on Instagram, their statement held both Bernstein and Nordstrom responsible.
“Tonight I feel crushed. Danielle came to my house over a year ago to see our jewelry and we let her borrow pieces several times. How is it not personal when you let a person into your home, let them wear your pieces, and then she knocks it off?? 
It’s an abuse of privilege, taking advantage of access. The buyers of Nordstrom also have a responsibility to protect design integrity and their PR team is creating consumer confusion by endorsing her as the designer which is not the truth.”
This situation sounds oddly similar to the Second Wind situation. Both brands trusted this influencer, believing that this would be a chance for a lovely partnership with her. Both ended up disheartened and disappointed.

One would think that after the embarrassment of being publicly outed for not just mimicking a few details, but outright copying, Danielle would have learned her lesson back in 2018. At this point, Bernstein has been called out at least 4 different times prior to the Second Wind incident.

I will update you on this story, but for now, it feels pretty sketchy.

UPDATE:

Since the release of the masks, Danielle has pivoted and decided to donate 5000 masks to charities combating sex trafficking. She shared the following on her Instagram story.
She has also shared additional information to show that her mask and chains were in production when she spoke to Second Wind. Danielle also provided screenshots of their previous conversation, showing that after she alerted Second Wind that she was creating something similar, that the brand was fine with that. There remains questions as to why she would still receive the mask, knowing how shady it appears and given her past jewelry incidents. 
According to Danielle, she has also received death threats. She shared one of those this morning. This is NEVER ok. I personally condemn the act of threatening violence against anyone. I hope she remains safe and that whoever is threatening her receives appropriate consequences.