Joan Smalls is addressing racism in the fashion industry.
The model posted a video on Instagram calling out those who used her as the “token” Black girl on the runway.
“Hey guys, there’s a couple things I need to get off my chest,” Smalls started saying in a video titled “We Are Not A Trend”.
“How many times have I been told that my hair was an issue and told to control it? How many times have I had to share campaigns or editorials when I saw my counterparts had the achievements by themselves?” Smalls said while pointing out the racism she saw against herself and other girls of colour. “It was a constant battle no one saw but one that I lived on a daily basis.”
She added, “I don’t need validation from an industry that cast me as the token Black girl while ignoring my whole cultural identity.”
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The recent and long standing acts against the black community have been saddening, frustrating and unacceptable. I feel these same emotions when I think about how my industry, the fashion world, is responding. It is time for this industry to do more than post a black square and say they’ll “Do Better!” It’s time for us to see the change starting from the ground up. Give us a seat at the table, include us, give us a chance, because we are worthy, talented and unique. There have been so many times where I’ve had to face issues against my race within this industry because I was their token black girl. The campaigns and editorials I had to share while my counterparts got to achieve that on their own. Or that my hair was an issue or that I made a show or campaign too ethnic, the list goes on and on. This industry that I love has profited from us but has never considered us equal. This. Stops. Now. It’s time for the fashion industry to stand up and show their solidarity. Time for you all to give back to these communities and cultures which you draw so much inspiration from. I do want to thank those that did see me for me and gave me a chance. Those that helped me fight my way to where I am today. Thank you, thank you for doing what you knew to be right versus what others said should be done. You will help us be the leaders of change. In saying all of this, I also pledge to donate 50% of my salary for the remainder of 2020 to Black Lives Matter organizations. I know I can’t just talk about change, I have to be a force for it. I encourage and will continue to encourage brands within this industry to do the same and give back. Let’s all be the change we want and need to see. These battles are long from over but together we’re stronger and together we can accomplish what is needed. #WeAreNotATrend #blacklivesmatter
A number of Canadian fashion industry leaders are also doing their part to help end racism in the fashion world including Krys Lunardo and George Sully. To learn more about their efforts, check out the video below: