The tragic murder of American man, George Floyd, from Minneapolis earlier this month at the hands of police officers has thrown much of the United States as well as other cities around the world into a state of chaos and upheaval. As Black communities express their frustration and outrage at systematic racism and discrimination, fashion brands have lept to express their support and allyship with Black members of the public. However, some of these statements have been accused of ringing hallow. Thus, a call for a 15% pledge has emerged, in which name brands and retailers are encouraged to source at least 15% of their products from Black owned businesses in order to demonstrate that they are genuinely committed to change and to reflect their support through patronage of the Black community.
Considering the current circumstances, we have interviewed two women of colour involved in the fashion industry who are currently bringing about positive change to their respective fields. We have created a two part series in which we ask them about the impact of the current situation on the industry and their thoughts regarding the explosion of social media posting and resource building that has occurred in response to recent events.
Protesters at Brooklyn Museum
Our first interview is with Tatiana, from @styledbytati. Having recently relocated from San Francisco to LA, Tatiana is a black stylist and business woman who works with like-minded creatives to produce high-quality editorials, music videos, and imagery. Tati was generous enough to share personal insight into what is happening in America right now as well as her personal experience as a woman of colour in the fashion industry.
With the rise of social media outlets such as Instagram and Twitter, people are constantly exposed to the realities of systematic racism in the US. Tati says, “I feel like its every other week that we have a new hashtag, of a new person—a new black person, who has been murdered by someone in the police force… and that’s only the people we know of.” She explains that the truth is, people are just tired. People are tired of living in fear.
We asked Tati if she thinks these protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder will be different than others seen in the past. She admits that if we would have asked her this a few years ago, she probably would have said no. “We create a hashtag, and we protest, but then it kind of trickles away.” Clearly the names are remembered, but people have to go on to live their lives. However, due to the intensity of recent events, this has become impossible to ignore. The amount of lives taken unfairly has given people of colour in America no other choice but to continue the fight for equality. “I really hope this time people listen, because if not, they [the government] are in for a long ride… We will not stop fighting.” People are currently speaking out more than ever. There are protests in every state, and in about eighteen different countries aside from the US demanding change and demanding justice.
We asked Tati to share her experience with us that she had growing up as a woman of colour in America. Discrimination happens to children of colour as young as elementary school, where they are faced with the realities of racism at a very young age. Tati shares a story of how her and two of her friends faced racial discrimination as early as third grade. As Tati got older, she realized how much harder she had to work compared to her white peers. Whether Tati was dancing through her teenage years or looking for jobs after college, competition in America was extremely prevalent. She credits a lot of her determination from the horrific fact that there are people expecting her to fail solely based on the colour of her skin. This is the reality for many other people of colour in America. Systematic racism unfairly denies minorities of opportunities or discredits the opportunities that they are given. Tati’s personal anecdote has helped us gain perspective and we are so thankful that she was willing to share her personal experiences.
Perspective is crucial since the media isn’t showing everything that is going on right now. Sadly, there are peaceful protests being ignored and heinous acts by police being covered up. Exposure from social media has been able to help the movement propel forward and gain exposure on a global level. Petitions, donation links, and videos taken by protestors are being circulated which has only added momentum to the Black Lives Matter movement. Currently there are about eighteen other countries along with all fifty states that have had protests. Like Tati said, “they [the government and America] are in for a long ride.”
Protestors are facing numerous obstacles such as early curfews, the threat of the National Guard, imprisonment, and violence by the hands of the government. All of which are counterproductive and prove that racism and brutality are extremely prevalent in America. We will be sharing links on different ways to contribute from abroad at the end of this article.
We are so thankful for Tati’s insight into what is happening in America as well as some of her own experiences. Tati says, “There are times when I laugh and there are times when I cry… there’s just so much to worry about.” We will continue to show allyship for the Black Lives Matter movement as we hear a new perspective about what is happening on our side of the world in our second interview.
Tati mentioned she was had worked on a shoot featuring all black women talent and brands. Check out the photos below...