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.

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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

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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.

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Picnics at home 💓

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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.

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The new normal. BigMomma and I 🐥

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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.

READ: Starbucks Changed Its Stance On Letting Baristas Wear BLM Apparel— These Black Coffee Shops Will Do You One Better

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