Things That Matter

Model Joan Smalls Is Donating Half Of Her Salary To Black Lives Matter

Afro-Latina model Joan Smalls is calling on the fashion industry to do better when it comes to supporting Black Lives Matter. The Puerto Rican woman is calling out the beauty and fashion industry for profiting off of Black and brown bodies while not fully supporting the cause.

Afro-Puerto Rican model Joan Smalls is calling on the fashion and beauty industry to make good on supporting Black Lives Matter.

Smalls recorded a video of Instagram calling on the fashion and beauty industry to step up and do better in fighting for diversity and inclusion. Instead, Smalls accuses major fashion and beauty brands of participating this time only because social media users held them accountable.

“I see all the agencies, magazines, brands posting black screens on their Instagram accounts,” Smalls says in the video. “What does that really mean? What is the fashion industry actually going to do about it? Is this just another trend? This industry that profits from our Black and brown bodies, our culture for constant inspiration, our music and our images for their visuals have tip-toed around the issues. You’re part of the cycle that perpetuates these conscious behaviors.”

The model is demanding that the industry that profits on Black and brown culture need to do more.

Black Lives Matter has been organizing and protesting for years. The recent death of George Floyd coupled with the long self-isolation led to people being more engaged with the organization. Thousands of people participated in sustained protests demanding justice for Floyd and an end to police brutality in the U.S. The protests went international and every major brand got involved in the social media movement.

“I want to share a little insight into the world of complicity. Many of you who claim to be all about diversity and inclusivity jumped on a bandwagon because social media held you accountable for your lack of acknowledgment of us and you hid behind your aesthetics of creativity and so-called beauty,” Smalls states. “You have continuously let us down with your insensitivity and tone-deafness and the damage-control apologies of ‘We will do better.’”

Yet, despite the claims of doing better, Smalls wants to see the brands follow through.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAnPmqEAyOQ/

Smalls is echoing the same frustration many people are venting right now. The major brands behind Black Lives Matter protesters are a welcome addition. However, people want to see sustained support from these brands. Black lives are not trends and it is important that people do not treat this movement as a social media trend.

“You fall short trying to narrate our stories by toning us down or having them curated by people who lived or walked a day in our shoes,” Smalls says. “Well, it’s now time to give us a real seat at the table. Because we are worthy. Because we are talented. Because we are unique.”

People are loving Smalls’s ability to remain authentic to herself as her career grows.

Credit: joansmalls / Instagram

Smalls has pledged to donate 50 percent of her salary to Black Lives Matter for the rest of 2020. Smalls writes in her Instagram caption that she knows that she has to follow up her calls for change by actively participating in that change.

Thank you, Joan. The more people who speak up, the more can be done to fight against racial injustice that has gone unchecked in the U.S. for too long.

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