Black

6:25 pm



"You are either alive and proud or you are dead"-Steve Biko



This outfit was inspired by two main things- The first being the fact that I was invited to a semi-formal "pizza and vinyl record listening party",which obviously proved to be a fun evening filled with friends and amazingly enormous pizza.


The second, less cheery, reason for this look is as a result of events that occurred the previous evening which inspired some serious anger in me and thus influenced many of the sartorial choices I made. I'm still quite angry as I type this post a week later...

Let me backtrack just a little bit so that we are all on the same page.

The previous night, as my friends and I were walking down the street, in the direction of Tiger Tiger and Tin Roof in Claremont, a place commonly known for its Thursday night 'jol' and also less commonly known for its incidents of racial discrimination, involving the use of highly offensive racial slurs and even assault, the urban myths turned into a reality...

A group of guys drove past and dropped (or rather shouted) the k bomb in our direction. A simple sentence involving the words 'kaffir' and 'sif' put a very abrupt and shocking end to that night. We didn't even make to the club...

After  my fair share of emotional rants, tweets and feelings of frustration at the fact that stuff like this still happens in 2015, in a country that is 21 years into its democracy, I have chosen to rather use this post as a celebration and discussion on the significance of the colour black and blackness.

It's scary how these words had the ability to instantly destroy the morale of my friends and me is and it is an indication of the power of  racism. I thus want to take a Steve Biko approach to the situation and start my battle against racism with an advocacy for self love and self pride as I feel that the 'black girl' is, more often than not, portrayed as the undesirable of the races.

With Jourdan Dunn being the first black model to cover UK Vogue in over a decade, and runways like last year's New York Fashion Week hosting 79% white models, it's important to promote the idea of black beauty in our Eurocentric society.

BLACK IS SO BEAUTIFUL

so like.. here it goes



The colour black has held significance in society since the time of ancient civilization, From it being the first colour to be used to create rock paintings to its development into a symbol of evil and mourning in the medieval era, its use and connotations have seen many changes. The nineteenth and twentieth century marked a time that characterized the colour black with elegance. Chanel revolutionized and simplified fashion by introducing the concept of the black dress and how it should be a staple in any woman's closet, yet this idea of black's eternal charm contrasted and still does with the "charm" of black people.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." haha.
This beholder, we forget, is of European descent and this 'beauty' we speak of is confined to (in the words of Ben Arogundade) "a singular European template".

The idea of beauty was cemented through portrayals of ancient goddesses with fair skin, silky hair and sharp features, studies on the perfect aesthetic and physical proportions, and the symbol of white as being the purest of all colours... Then they took a trip to Africa and found a very different type of face and body that was almost the opposite to the concepts outlined in the unofficial "How to be Beautiful" guide. Black people were seen as closer to animals than people, and people like Saartjie Baartman were held in 'human zoos' to be looked at and marveled at for their exaggerated sexual features.

Slavery cemented this idea of black negativity and over the course of about 400 years black people and everything about them was deemed as wrong because it was different.

Blackness was stripped of all its beauty and now black girls and women are still viewed as the 'lowest commodity' in our modern society as the media continues to portray 'white' beauty as real beauty and boys still think it's okay to call girls 'sif' because they're black...

Despite all of this we are here now and we are growing. People like Steve Biko, Malcom X, Lauryn Hill, Alek Wek, Molefi Asante, Naomi Campbell, Oprah and so many others are here as black people who have and are striving towards creating a society where black people are recognized for their beauty- where black people are not made to feel inferior by others or by the subconscious threads of colonialism that still weave through many of our minds.

I am here now and I refuse to let anyone make me feel like trash because my skin is dark and my hair is kinky and my lips are full. nah

So this is my outfit-  head to knee black in the form of my mid length Topshop dress and a vintage denim jacket I bought earlier that day. I'm wearing a borrowed traditional necklace in celebration of my South African heritage. The Zara shoes make me feel very grown up.


Photographs by Jemma Richmond (www.plainoldglasses.wordpress.com)





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