Shaun King: Brands With Blackface Designs

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By now you’ve probably seen the photos, but over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a barrage of fashion megabrands release completely racist clothing styles. They are so outrageously offensive that it strains credulity to believe what we are witnessing is nothing more than an accidental comedy of unintentional errors. It’s a trend at this point.

Burberry just released a hoodie with a noose around the neck.

Gucci just released a turtleneck designed to look like blackface.

Moncler released a blackface bubble jacket.

Prada released a blackface purse.

Katy Perry even released a pair of blackface heels.

Are we really so dumb as to think these were all accidents? Are you saying that these designs just accidentally happened to look like blackface, but they weren’t meant to? Because if you think that, then you probably haven’t seen these styles. They were done on purpose.

And here’s the thing – Blackface is simultaneously an expression of white fantasy and an exertion of white power. At the point in which we’re talking about an offensive behavior that has continued on for centuries – for hundreds of years they’ve done this – we’re not dealing with an accident, but with an intergenerational pathology of willfully mocking and inflicting pain on Black people.

I believe each and every one of these brands did what they did in the name of being provocative and pushing the envelope – making a calculation on whether or not the fallout would be worth the reciprocal coverage and media mentions they would receive in response. What’s particularly revealing is whose pain fashion brands are willing to mock in 2019 and whose pain is off limits.

Beyond simply ignoring these brands, I see three different streams of thought emerging. First – many are taking this moment to renew focus on Black-owned fashion brands. And that’s a great idea. At the end of the day, we are complaining about companies that we don’t own and don’t control.

Secondly, some people are suggesting we should boycott each of the offending companies. And I get that. But it’s easy for most of us to boycott Gucci when we don’t actually buy Gucci products in the first place.

Lastly, others are saying we should use this moment to influence the hiring and decision making process at companies like Gucci and Burberry so that the right people have a seat at the table to ensure offensive fashion decisions like this are never made again.

I wanna to switch gears for a moment and talk about Jussie Smollett. I’ve helped off on speaking about this situation over the past few weeks until all of the facts came out – and at this point they still haven’t – honestly. It’s my understanding that the Chicago Police Department has now charged him a felony count of filing a false report and has dropped all charges against the two young men they initially arrested in connection with the assault.

But let me address a few things. It’s amazing to me to see how many times officers for the Chicago Police Department have leaked stories about this case. Because when somebody is shot or killed or harmed by police in Chicago – you can wait for months, years even, to get the most basic information. Now all of a sudden cops for the Chicago PD just can’t shut up.

Just on general principle, what I am about to say has nothing to do with Jussie, but I don’t trust anything the Chicago Police Department says. Period. So forgive me for not taking their word for it in this case – because they are notorious liars. For 20+ years they literally tortured hundreds and hundreds of black and brown young men into false confessions, often sending them away to prison for decades. They were found guilty of this.

So again, forgive me for not jumping all over their leaks in this case.

Listen – I see what you see, but I also will say what I’ve said before – I’m just going to have to see and understand the evidence before I believe anything on this case or any other cases the Chicago Police Department is investigating.

I do wanna close this morning with a bit of an update on the Democratic primaries. After Bernie joined the race on this past Tuesday, I think we are really talking about 1-2 more people who may join in – and that’s likely going to be Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke. Both of them, I think, will change the race, and add a lot of energy and substance to the race. I think we will hear from both of them relatively soon – as in the next 2 weeks or so – and it’s equally possible that one or both them actually pass on running as well.

Bernie said yesterday that he actually didn’t know until very, very recently if he was going to run, and that he was very much back and forth on it.  And I get it, it takes a huge amount of time and money to run. I’ve gotta head out – I’m speaking later this morning again in Colorado Springs – then Ohio – then finally back home.

Take care everybody.

HEAD BACK TO THE BLACKAMERICAWEB.COM HOMEPAGE

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