Recent Posts

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Black Women, Racism and Vogue Italia

I never knew I was black until I left the shores of Nigeria. I had been called 'yellow pawpaw' all my life, and I always thought my oldest sister was 'yellower' than I was. Even with this, there were no statistics in Nigeria, that played out like 50% Yellow, 20% Charcoal 30% Mixed-Colour. When I watched things on TV, and knew there was such a  thing as racism, read books about the slavery and all, it still never really dawned on me, what it really involved. Going on holidays, is not quite the same as living in another country. 
When I consequently got immersed in a foreign culture, I became just another statistic in their collective eyes. We are all statistics really. 50% White, 30% Black 40% Asian 10% Mixed-Race.  I always was against the notion of 'Race' and that to accept Race was to accept Racism. Yes, there's no 'Race' but Racism is not about genetic make-up. I began to see Race as it really plays out in such a place, and in the world at large.

One of my main concerns in this post is about the representation of  Black Women in the media. As I became more aware, I realized I didn't like it. Women in general you may say, But Black women for me, because its what I identify with, also because of the gross imbalance in representation. Black women, are mostly either shown to be highly sexualized, music video girls for example, who only make use of their bodies, no brains. Or the musicians..which the same can be said about them really.  A gross imbalance, where are the Black Women who are doing things which benefit themselves and society at large? I honestly don't see that at the forefront of my media sources. I am a designer (UX) where are the Black Women in design and technology? I see Zero.

I watched DBanj's new video, I could only shake my head. There is nothing new but the old formula of heavily clothed men and naked women. Why is this still so appealing? I cannot understand. The recycled image that man will only have power through money, women, power through her body. It's really hard to take in. The worst part is that many 'Black' women saw nothing wrong, infact they were extremely pleased with this sort of representation.

Another concern is the Vogue italia spread which people are raving about. I remember a question  that came up on my twitter timeline once, about racism in the Fashion Industry. I replied that it was a sure thing, it is still largely prevalent. If there's anything that shows the present racism in the fashion industry, it is that Vogue Italia spread. You ask how? One of the best definitions of Racism I have ever come across, is by Michael Eric Dyson, you can watch the video here 

Racism is the ability to impose your viewpoints, biased as they are, as normative, and then have the power to reinforce them as necessary and primarily exclusive.

Racism is about power. It is not a simple matter of preference or bias. The big wigs of the Fashion Industry have power to control what happens within. So far, 'White' has been the model, and it hasn't changed. We see a sprinkle of 'Black' women, but really they are taken to be a 'token' which helps to appease those that may once in a while say, 'No Black Face there!' They are also taken to be a 'Trend' How can a whole group of people be relegated to the back page spread of an All-white Magazine, and you find nothing wrong with it. I like this take on it  here

I won't even talk about the cigarettes, and the styling of the photos, these deserve  a separate post. For us to move from this tokenism and trendism, Black Models (Those of 'colour') in this case have to be seen as normal, and they should be featured as frequently as others, there are more Black and Asian people on this planet for fairness sakes

I would really love to see a representation of Black Women on my media sources that I can relate to. I want to see them as part of the fabric of this world not. an occasional subject. I would really like Black Women themselves to deliberately refuse to accept the rubbish we are being fed. We also need to create content, if people won't give us a voice, We need to become our own Voice.


Ada said...

This is the thing here. You dont go to a pub and then get mad when you come out smelling like smoke. The fashion industry is known to be lewd and sometimes portray over sexualized images period regardless of race. they are definitely not into the business of morality. so if black people are going to be shown, its going to rub off somehow.

I like you, never knew i was black until I lived in the states. its
but then again the naivety of the race/color complex unfortunately does not absolve one from the effects of it. Even though nigerians for example are not cutthroat about wat mix, race on is, They are so affected by that color complex and the whole mentality of anything foreign that is not black is better. its like cancer eating you up but you dont know until get a check up. My "check up" was moving to the states

GamineGirlie said...

I understand what you mean but I'm not addressing morality here, like I wrote, It definitely deserves another post.

'but then again the naivety of the race/color complex unfortunately does not absolve one from the effects of it'

Ignorance is not bliss.

''its like cancer eating you up but you dont know until get a check up. My "check up" was moving to the states''

True. There's something that wakes you up about leaving your well established cocoon.