Black Models Advocate for Civil Rights

Black Models Advocate for Civil Rights

Black Models Advocate for Civil Rights

Naomi Campbell, Adut Akech, Anok Yai, and Imaan Hammam.

Naomi Campbell, Adut Akech, Anok Yai, and Imaan Hammam.

Across America, protestors have taken to the streets after the killing of George Floyd, another unarmed black man whose name adds to a list of murders precipitated by lethally silent racism and long-reigning police brutality.

Historically, the fashion industry has waded out public posturing in times of crisis, opting for neutral as an industry failsafe, yet in recent days we’ve seen seminal responses from everyone: media pundits, religious leaders, the cool-kids of Instagram, even heavily lauded creative directors and fashion models.

Today, when so much of fashion has capitalized on appropriating the “cool” of black culture the industry pipelines seem to mint generations of leaders who mostly look the same; Virgil Abloh and Olivier Rousteing stand as the only black men at the creative helm of major houses.

Luckily, the modeling sphere was one of the first to acknowledge the beauty in every pigment, catapulting Naomi Campbell to scale the heights of fame in the 1990s, and we watched as many followed after. Now, Adut Akech, Anok Yai, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah, and more are responding in real-time to the systematic racism that has beset the civil rights movement since its inception.

Hammam protested for black equality in the streets of Amsterdam noting the racism doesn’t stop and start on American soil. “This is not just an American issue, this is a human issue,” she captioned an Instagram photo from Tuesday. “We need to come together to fight racism, injustice, and inequality.” She shared the link to the Minnesota Freedom Fund in her bio and urged followers to sign the petition that would see all four Minnesota officers involved in the killing of George Floyd arrested and charged with murder.

Akech echoed Hammam’s sentiments, posting the Grassroots Law Project in her bio and calling on followers to sign the petition to make inroads towards justice. “This one hit so hard and so deep, I can’t form into words of emotions that have not been said and felt by any black person,” she posted alongside a swipe through commemorating Floyd’s memory and his haunting last words. “All I know is that we black people have had ENOUGH and America and the rest of the world gone see that!!”

Campbell shared former President Barack Obama’s statement from Friday where he presses on Americans to acknowledge the lack of honor in our societal constructs, stating “it falls on us…to work together to create a 'new normal' in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer affects our institutions or our hearts."

Campbell went on to urge 9.2 million followers to take action on the state level, encouraging them to set their sights on systematic change by casting a ballot in the primary elections. Her bio has been updated to the change.org link, where petitioners can sign in support of reaching the attention of Minneapolis officials, so far it has accrued 13 million signatures.

As our world stands in solidarity with black lives, it becomes ever more important to sign, to vote, to listen, to learn, and to hear the hard questions. “When the color of your skin is weaponized, how do you unarm yourself?” asks Yai. "Who do you call when the ones meant to protect you make you beg for your life; then take it?”

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