“The fashion world is an industry that largely incorporates non-white people only as the labor to hem and stitch and toil and nothing else. Certain bodies belong and others do not. Anything that differs from this structure must be an affront to its natural order. In fashion, it is inherently “not good” and “not right” because it is different. It is not white.”
Ah. So basically Naomi Campbell discussed how institutional racism impacts the fashion industry and the White male interviewer wanted it to be about her personal “anger” in incidents unrelated to fashion. Naomi Campbell discussed her passion about making the industry diverse and the White male interviewer wanted to parse “good” angry versus “bad” angry. Naomi Campbell discussed how there is a systemic issue in the industry and the White male interviewer wanted to discuss how Naomi herself, individually succeeded so doesn’t that exceptionalism prove that racism in the industry isn’t an issue? Ugh.
They literally are operating from different frames of thought; hers shaped by reality of what she sees and documents (with actual numbers in some instances) and his based on White male privilege and individualism fostered by both exceptionalism and stereotypes, which will never speak to systemic issues.
This interview is a microcosm of what it is like to confront White privilege, racism and White supremacy on any issue. Even those who want to “find out” more and may even compliment us often cannot think past their own privilege. One of the key problems involved in thinking shaped by White privilege is the role individualism plays, intellectually. To them, everything at worst falls under a negative stereotype and at best can be summarized by positive exceptionalism. NEITHER of these speak to institutional, structural and systemic issues of racism.
Oh and notice how she parsed racism here. As the act that the people who work for the designers engaged in, not whether or not the designers or their people are “racist.” This is important. Because Whites love to escape “racist” as a label. Okay, fine. Let’s talk about what they DID and SAID, and intent is irrelevant, as she mentioned they may not “know” what they did with their casting etc. Her own words reveal this the chasm between the way they think…
I’m not here to talk about me, I’m here to talk about balanced diversity.
I’m not angry. And I don’t like the thing of the ‘angry Black woman’ either; this is not what this is about.
We feel passionate. Feeling passion about something doesn’t mean you have to be angry.
Naomi = brilliant.
A+ commentary, both gradientlair’s and Naomi’s
“…I’m over people not explicitly acknowledging (racism in the fashion industry). Go on. Say it. Utter the word. You can do it. It’s scary; I get it – it’s scary because as a white dude naming a thing you (consciously or not) play part in perpetuating. You’re shooting yourself in the foot.”
From Lorde to Macklemore, it’s a sentiment that’s galling for its popularity: white artists need to stop using the wealth signifiers of rap music to gesture at their self-important “anti-consumerism.” What Allen misses as she washes rims in a kitchen decorated only with bottles of champagne is that it’s not anti-consumerism when it only targets one type of consumer.
Rap owns a unique history soundtracking the triumph of financial success in a country that long barred black Americans from that success. It shouldn’t be an opportunity for white artists to wax superior. Beyond poor taste, it’s the myopia of latent racism that’s more anxious about gold chains on a rapper than an Armani tie on a hedge fund analyst.
Similarly, Lily Allen’s response to sexist industry demands for thinness becomes entirely ineffectual when it lashes out against women who succeed despite those demands. Allen is not savily critiquing the world of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus, she’s resentfully bemoaning not getting to enjoy the same success.
“Hard Out Here” is the opposite of Mileywave. Instead of using black women as props to further her career, Allen blames them for its stagnation. In full-sleeved dresses Allen mocks her inability to twerk amidst women of color in body suits who launch into exaggerated dance moves, licking their hands and then rubbing their crotch. Her older white male manager tries to get to her to mimic them. Meanwhile she sings, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you/‘Cause I’ve got a brain.” Cut to black women shaking their ass, so much for sisterly solidarity.
One of the most entertaining and frustrating things about being a fan of M.I.A has been watching white critics struggle to articulate her style while challenging her right to the aesthetic she cultivates. Artists of color aren’t often recognized for their sophistication or intent. Rather, they’re ascribed a “primitive rawness.”
With her synthesis of diverse but connected motifs M.I.A gets dubbed “cut and paste.” Words like “patchwork,” “slapped-together,” and “scotch tape” are regularly used, and that’s from positive reviews. American critics, unsure of the cacophony of identities and experiences M.I.A offers, commonly project their own uncertainties onto her.
The reception of her albums can be charted along her public perception, which took a hit in 2010. Her increasing success hadn’t changed the tone of her antiestablishment politics and the juxtaposition made scoffing at M.I.A as fashionable as dancing to Galang had been.
I wrote about Matangi Arulpragasam and the subaltern struggle.
Do yourself a favour and read everything Ayesha has ever written about music.
“With another episode concluded in the queasy oscillation between political insult and repair, the task remains to circulate, conceptualize, and perhaps learn from symbols and markers of disenfranchised cultures without dictating the terms of engagement. As the institutional backing responsible for Inukt’s newfound visibility, the MBA carried a distinct obligation to obviate profitable abuses of power, even in a venture as admittedly minor as a clothing line at their museum store. Yet the “minor” spaces are all the more crucial here, where longstanding erasures move within the cultural imaginary as naturalized practice. If anything, the need for constant vigilance, the need for the often exhausting labor of critiquing grotesque displays of power, becomes all the more apparent.”
Yesterday I just felt nauseated by this story. But after reading Henry and Vowel’s insightful critiques, it feels like a step in the right direction. School these assholes.
“…women are centered in ‘Pour It Up’. It is their talents, skills, and agency that takes the stage. Rarely do we see women looking as powerful as they do in the video for ‘Pour It Up’ and that’s a real shame. Women owning their bodies and declaring their sexual agency isn’t something we should be afraid of — even (or perhaps especially) if they are doing so on a stripper pole… The male gaze is nonexistent here, or exists as an afterthought: do Rihanna’s critics know how rare that is in the music industry?”
“In critiquing these videos, the issue of course must be gender and never race, because no matter how many times women of colour talk about the importance of intersectionality, in white feminist circles, gender is always and forever the overriding concern.”
“Muslim presence in Canada is not a recent phenomenon. Some writers and historians have traced it to the late nineteenth century when Muslims came here from the Ottoman Empire, and settled in places like Alberta and Saskatchewan. However, most of those immigrants lived under precarious conditions. As Jasmin Zine, drawing upon Baha Abu-Laban explains, when the First World War broke out, many Turkish immigrants were labeled as enemy aliens and sent back to Turkey. Today, too, several of us who have come here as immigrants and refugees continue to be illegal, heavily policed, and marked for state and gender violence. We also live in times where there is significant distrust of Muslims everywhere, including Canada. A 2012 online poll of 1,522 Canadians, commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies and Toronto-based Canadian Race Relations Foundation revealed that more than half of all Canadians believe Muslims can’t be trusted. And nearly as many people believe discrimination against Muslims is “mainly their fault.” It is a tough battle–a battle where it’s easy to ask “why should we worry about Indigenous sovereignty and solidarity when we are so targeted by ordinary white Canadians and the settler state?” …We cannot win this battle if foundational violences are not targeted in our struggles.”
“The hijab has also become a tool in the hands of one-track feminists who, ignoring the intersection of gender, race, and religion, have turned its prohibition into a cause célèbre for gender equity. Equality is an excellent ideal to strive for but politicizing the hijab in this way does not create a more equal society, just a more equal-looking one in the eyes of Charter supporters. Making men and women equal on the surface does nothing to address actual differences in power. Those seeking to truly empower women should do everything possible to open the doors to education and employment rather than create new barriers to social and economic independence.”