Model Joan Smalls To Fashion Industry: You Profit Off Us But Never Consider Us Equals + Donates Half Of Her Salary To #BlackLivesMatter

Model Joan Smalls To Fashion Industry: You Profit Off Us But Never Consider Us Equals + Donates Half Of Her Salary To #BlackLivesMatter

Amid the nationwide protests against systematic racism, supermodel Joan Smalls (Rodriguez), 31, is using her voice to call on the fashion industry to stand up and do their part. Through her Instagram page, Joan Smalls recorded herself calling out the industry for profiting off of Black culture, but failing to speak up with issues such as racism arise.

“An industry that profits from our black and brown bodies, our culture for constant inspiration, our music (that continues to glorify these brands) and our images for their visuals have tiptoed around the issue at hand. You are part of the cycle that perpetuates these conscious behaviors.”

Joan Smalls (circa 2015)

The Puerto Rican native has walked in more than 400 runway shows and has been the face of campaigns for top brands such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Michaels Kors, and Tom Ford. Joan Smalls is also the first Latina face of  Estée Lauder.

In her video, Smalls opened up about her own encounters.

“How many times I’ve been told my hair was an issue, and said to control it? How many times have I had to share campaigns or editorials when I saw my counterparts have the achievement by themselves? It was a constant battle no one saw, but one I lived on a daily basis… I don’t need validation from an industry that casts me as the token black girl while ignoring my whole cultural identity. What I do need is recognition of the systematic issues, the issues that arises from top to bottom within the industry.”

The continued discussion of racism heightened after the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died while in police custody, in Minneapolis. In a recorded video of George Floyd’s last moments, an officer was viewed with his knee held on George Floyd’s neck, while he gasped for air. That same police officer, Derek Chauvin, is now facing second-degree murder charges.

George Floyd’s death has led to international protests in citizens across the globe calling for an end to systematic racism in all industries.

George Floyd

Underneath her video post to her 3.4 million followers, Smalls captioned a message about changing the fashion industry, and doing her part to help force the issue.

“This industry that I love has profited from us but has never considered us equal. This. Stops. Now. It’s time for the fashion industry to stand up and show their solidarity. Time for you all to give back to these communities and cultures which you draw so much inspiration from.”

She added:

“I pledge to donate 50% of my salary for the remainder of 2020 to Black Lives Matter organizations. I know I can’t just talk about change, I have to be a force for it. I encourage and will continue to encourage brands within this industry to do the same and give back. Let’s all be the change we want and need to see. These battles are long from over but together we’re stronger and together we can accomplish what is needed.” #WeAreNotATrend#blacklivesmatter

Watch the entire video of Joan Smalls message below.

View this post on Instagram

The recent and long standing acts against the black community have been saddening, frustrating and unacceptable. I feel these same emotions when I think about how my industry, the fashion world, is responding. It is time for this industry to do more than post a black square and say they’ll “Do Better!” It’s time for us to see the change starting from the ground up. Give us a seat at the table, include us, give us a chance, because we are worthy, talented and unique. There have been so many times where I’ve had to face issues against my race within this industry because I was their token black girl. The campaigns and editorials I had to share while my counterparts got to achieve that on their own. Or that my hair was an issue or that I made a show or campaign too ethnic, the list goes on and on. This industry that I love has profited from us but has never considered us equal. This. Stops. Now. It’s time for the fashion industry to stand up and show their solidarity. Time for you all to give back to these communities and cultures which you draw so much inspiration from. I do want to thank those that did see me for me and gave me a chance. Those that helped me fight my way to where I am today. Thank you, thank you for doing what you knew to be right versus what others said should be done. You will help us be the leaders of change. In saying all of this, I also pledge to donate 50% of my salary for the remainder of 2020 to Black Lives Matter organizations. I know I can’t just talk about change, I have to be a force for it. I encourage and will continue to encourage brands within this industry to do the same and give back. Let’s all be the change we want and need to see. These battles are long from over but together we’re stronger and together we can accomplish what is needed. #WeAreNotATrend #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Joan Smalls (@joansmalls) on

What are your feelings on Joan Smalls message to the fashion industry about racism? Leave your thoughts with us in the comments.

Authored by: Cierra Jones