In the wake of the senseless shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, many celebrities and public figures from across industries have come out to condemn police brutality against black people. Kanye West, Drake, Beyoncè, Mark Zuckerberg, LeBron James, Chance the Rapper, John Legend, and Meek Mill have all been moved to address the tragedy.
However, a designer and pair of prominent models have found the response from the fashion industry to be incredibly lacking. Designer Jamila Mariama first posted the note on Instagram, which starts, "Disappointed in the fashion industry..." She notes that she follows "400 fashion related accounts" on Instagram who "have nothing, not a word to say about the racism, police brutality, and injustice happening to blacks right in front of their eyes," Mariama wrote. You can read the post in its entirety above.
The post was then shared by model and Mariama's friend Torraine Futurum. Model and actress Hari Nef, who appeared in the television series Transparent and recently covered Elle UK, then shared the post on Twitter and added, "Do y'all really think your silence goes unnoticed?"
And although original post wasn't hers, Futurum told Complex she "really connected to it."
"I've noticed that historically people have incredible difficulty breaking from their regularly scheduled program," she told Complex over e-mail. "The only reason people in the fashion and entertainment industries spoke on Orlando is because they'd seem incredibly insensitive if they didn't. Unfortunately, the same demand is not felt on black issues. Historically, fashion folks have been pretty silent on racially fueled police brutality and systemic racism as a whole. For some, racial injustice is too 'controversial' and divisive to talk about. Which is mind boggling in 2016. And honestly, I just think people really don't care enough. When Beyoncé is spotted wearing these brands' clothing, the brands will post photos for DAYS from every angle you can think of, trying to spin as many stories out of it as possible. But on this, a topic she is very vocal about, they are silent. Right now they are continuing to talk about Haute Couture or link dropping their thousandth tired trend story. It's a serious problem. "
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Mariama told Complex that she believes that people and companies involved in the fashion industry could be using their platforms to make a much bigger impact. "I think the fashion industry should use their social media platform and following base to promote awareness about these issues," Mariama said via e-mail.
"I think most companies, especially corporate, are scared to risk being vocal about these matters, because they think they will offend people and make their consumers feel uncomfortable, a result that could affect sales (because we all know everything is about money) or can affect their careers. But, the fashion industry has so much power and can't be afraid to speak up. They don't have to turn anything into a debate, but at least a conversation, and, like I said, make us aware and spread knowledge. Because ignorance is not an excuse, especially when you don't have to read the newspaper or watch the news to find out what's going on in the world."
She also explained why fashion companies seem more hesitant to comment on these specific tragedies. "I think the fashion industry spoke on the Florida shooting in particular because it definitely was sort of a shock, where now blacks getting shot by police has unfortunately, and sadly, become a frequent occurrence. But they should be more shocked, not less shocked that it's happening again...and again. Maybe because the fashion industry is mostly white, they feel like they can't relate, and they can relate to gays more—that I do not know. But you can't pick and choose who you want to stand up for if you truly believe there should be justice for everyone, no matter gender, sexuality, religion, or race. I remember when the Trayvon Martin shooting happened, I did see some fashion companies post things, but it seems like, years later, it's not as important."
"Another reason I think the fashion industry and others don't speak out is because they think the black men being shot must've did something wrong, because they got pulled over. And the gays guys at the club, well, they were having fun and dancing. But that's not fair, and that's not right. Both acts of discrimination are wrong and no worse than the other, so speak up about everything. I also talked to black gay men that are friends and acquaintances of mine and can't begin to imagine the way they feel. Also, black straight men need to support and sympathize with black gay men and any race of gay men."
Also, shortly after this post was first published, Futurum outlined exactly how fashion publications can use their platforms to make a difference.
Nef did not immediately respond to Complex’s request for comment.