The current uproar in the United States is the unfortunate result of systemic racism and oppression against African-Americans, who have been treated unfairly and unjustly for generations. Systemic racism is also a problem here in Malaysia, and countries all over the world. History books tell us it is the long-term effect of slavery and colonialism, which has ultimately also resulted in anti-blackness mentality.
It’s time to unlearn these biases, and reshape our thinking processes for change and reform. We Malaysians can learn something from the global current affairs. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has taught us Malaysian that it isn’t enough to claim to “not be a racist”. Instead, we have to be anti-racist. And seeing as we also belong to a multi-cultural country with multiple ethnicities and religions, adopting this ideal will bring us good. The idea is not to forget our respective races and creed, but rather to embrace our differences, instead of letting it divide us.
We can use these same principles to help us fight against racism in our own country. It’s a big issue yes, and can be overwhelming. But baby steps. If you’re looking for additional resources, we have a couple of Instagram accounts for you to follow. Below are prominent names of black people in fashion who are using their influence and platform to educate on anti-blackness. Hit ‘Follow’ on their accounts for a healthy balance of activism and seriously fierce fashion.
The actress is a healthy dose of positivity, killer OOTDs and education. Most known as her role as Rainbow Johnson in Black-ish, an American sitcom that’s packed with great jokes, but is balanced with social and political issues to educate their viewers, Ross’ Instagram feed is similar. It’s the best of both worlds, with a colourful serving of fashion on the side.
From walking the runway to actively speaking out about racism, Adesuwa Aighewi is a model citizen (pun fully intended). Her Instagram grid is mostly filled with strikingly beautiful photos of herself and her life as a fashion model, but takes the time to share her thoughts and truest opinions on how we can change for the better.
If you take a look at Adwoa Aboah’s Instagram account, you’ll notice that she credits herself as an activist first and a model second. The 28-year old is also the founder of Gurls Talk, a podcast about mental health. Aboah is passionate about self-help and isn’t afraid to voice out her political opinions in the United Kingdom. Follow her journey as she travels the world for fashion while championing her causes.
Co-star of Tracee Ellis Ross, 20-year old Yara Shahidi who has been vocal about political issues since she was a teenager proves that age shouldn’t deter you from standing up for what’s right. Beautiful, talented and incredibly smart (she was accepted into Harvard in 2018), Shahidi shares her everyday musings, happenings as well as beautifully worded narrations about systemic racism in America. Listen to her speak about #BlackLivesMatter here.
The fashionably dressed dancing influencer who’s been adding cheer into our Instagram feeds is using his strong following to educate his followers on anti-racism and anti-blackness. Taking his own personal experience of losing his African-American father to police brutality, he works hard to flip that negativity into positivity. Be it with his viral videos filled with good vibes, and using his platform to highlight social justice issues.
We’re fully aware of the ’90s supermodel’s notorious history (like verbal abuse and phone throwing), but to use that to discount her efforts in speaking up about anti-blackness would be a harsh judgement. We’re all works in progress, and it’d be a loss on our part if we pass up on hearing what she has to say. She has dedicated many posts on her feed about racist issues in the fashion industry and globally, and cites many influential figures such as Barack Obama, Mohammad Ali and Nelson Mandela.
The African-American fashion designer has and continues to champion black narratives with his position at Louis Vuitton and Off-White. As a black man himself, he is the perfect person to do so, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t subjected to the same standards as which he upholds. He has recently made insensitive comments regarding the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and has been duly called out for it. To correct his mistake, he has issued a public statement on Instagram, and aims to do better. Now, this is an apology.
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