Do Your Part - Support The Movement
This week has been grave, to say the least. But more than that, it has been a reality check for a lot of people. A time where many have realized their societal privileges that often remain unacknowledged. An opportunity to take the window seat, lift their eyes from their phones and peer out into the real world, filling their view with the black communities’ 400 year fight against oppression, prejudice and tyranny.
The world has imploded. Imploded with rage, sadness, frustration - and rightfully so. Another innocent man’s life taken - just like that. Not a single thought given to his living, breathing lungs, the blood pumping through his veins and the heart beating in his chest. A mere inconvenience, in the eyes of Derek Chauvin at least; as seen through his arrogant posture - hands in his pockets, head held high, knee digging the life out of a man's neck.
As a minority, I'm privelaged to say that I am someone who has never experienced blatant racism, however I’ve spent a lot of time this week actively listening and learning more about the North American institution as a whole, and its incredibly broken system. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till; all the human lives that have been lost at the hands of those we're supposed to trust the most, all because to the colour of their skin. Anti-Black Racism is still alive and well, and it’s up to us to demand change from society and more importantly, this broken system of ours, by realizing the revolutionary power that each and every one of us holds. I encourage everyone reading this to please do your part; sign petitions, donate however much you can, participate in protests, and most importantly, educate yourself and those around you. Eliminate all forms of microaggressions which contribute to Anti-Black Racism and actively support the Black Lives Matter Movement. As an South Asian Ally, I want to use this platform as a means of shedding light on some of the many members of the black community who have revolutionized the beauty industry.
Black Individuals who are making history within the beauty industry:
Jackie Aina: From army reservist to one of Youtube’s top makeup influencers
Jackie Aina is an unforgettable individual who has not only built a beauty empire over the past 10+ years, but has continuously advocated for the representation, visibility and equality of people of colour in the cosmetics industry, earning the NAACP Youtuber of the Year award for doing so. Her story starts in Hawaii, when she was around 21 years old, held a position in the army as an army reservist, and cultivated her artistry with bold eye makeup looks on the side. After regularly watching Youtube videos and being encouraged by her best friend to start a channel of her own, she finally gave in. What made her stand out was her recreating looks originally meant for women of fairer tones, to make them work for brown skin. She often discussed “taboo” topics, such as disparities within the beauty industry, the lack of diversity, etc. “And I talked about those things because I was like, Why is it still so difficult to find products that work for dark-skin people? I was talking about things that no one else was talking about, so I thought, I'm probably not going to grow as quickly or as big as my peers and counterparts, and I'm OK with that. I wasn't thinking of it as a career; at that time, I didn't even know people were making money on ads.” she told Fashionista.org. Using her media platform, her mission is not necessarily to relate to each and every one of her viewers, but rather to help individuals from all types of ethnicities and backgrounds understand and learn something truly valuable.
Black, gay males in the Beauty Industry
While seeing males embracing their beauty related talents is no longer a rarity in the industry, black, gay men unfortunately have not met the same fate. Jeffree Star, James Charles, and men of colour including Patrick Starrr, Bretman Rock and Manny MUA have all scored deals with makeup campaigns. Unarguably, black influencers already face several challenges in the industry surrounding equality and recieving the same opportunities as their peers, however being a gay black man in the indsutry is a battle of its own. With the majority of black influencers feeling like companies don’t bother looking at them or supporting them, they find it much more difficult to grow and gain recognition from big brands. Ernest B. James, founder of Noire Management which exclusively manages black influencers, says “Black men are fighting so many battles, not only are they fighting people who see them just as black men and as a threat regardless, they’re also fighting their own people who don’t accept them because they’re gay and play in makeup. Within an already marginalized group, they’re marginalized even further.” In reality, the industry has so much power, and the incredible ability to normalize and truly appreciate the portrayal of black, gay men in the media to make a cultural change. Kenneth D. Senegal, a L.A. based influencer who has been featured on Fenty Beauty and MAC’s social channels, says “(Brands) definitely made it more of a safe space for me” and “Brands have the power when it comes to making a space acceptable for a creator. The more they share my posts, the more it makes it acceptable to an audience in general.”
Rihanna - Fenty Beauty
Musician, entrepreneur, model and an inspiration to us all - how could I not mention our hard-work, work, work-ing queen, Miss Robyn Rihanna Fenty herself. Overnight, the launch of Fenty Beauty set a new standard for the entire beauty industry - with a range of over 40 shades of foundation, something for every make-up enthusiast . Named one of the most important inventions of 2017 by Time Magazine “for its quality-to-affordability ratio and its emphasis on inclusivity”, the emotional aspect of her inclusivity is something that is more than justifiable. Rihanna says, "I never could have anticipated the emotional connection that women are having with the products and the brand as a whole.Some are finding their shade of foundation for the first time, getting emotional at the counter. That’s something I will never get over.” There’s no doubt about it - she transformed the beauty industry forever.
Black owned businesses to support - now, and always:
Unsun Cosmetics by Katonya Breaux
After experiencing the never ending white residue that her SPF would leave on her skin, Katonya Breaux decided it was time for a solution. So, she founded Unsun Cosmetics; a line of all natural skin protectants that were made specifically for people of colour. The brand makes tinted mineral sunscreen SPF 30, along with a variety of other products such as everyday body lotion SPF 15 and hand cream SPF.
FORM Beauty is a range of very affordable and customizable hair care products for women of all ethnic backgrounds that have textured hair. With a line consisting of shampoos, conditioners, stylers and a finishing pomade, FORM has everything a woman would need to simplify their routine while maintaining healthy, beautiful hair.
The Honey Pot by Beatrice Dixon
The Honey Pot is an extremely important vaginal-health care brand in today's day-and-age. Offering products that are meant to cleanse, protect and balance, all of their products, such as their washes, wipes, tampons and pads are 100% natural, made from only natural ingredients. Another bonus; the company has partnered with Happy Period, which is an organization that provides hygiene kits to homeless women, low income individuals or those living in poverty. Fun fact: the founder of The Honey Pot, Bea Dixon, is 1 of the first 40 women of colour to raise $1 million in a venture capital!
BLK + GRN by Kristian Henderson
BLK + GRN is an e-commerce site that is essentially a marketplace aiming to help individuals discover and support black artisans who create toxic free, plant based and cruelty free products in the beauty and wellness industry. With products in the categories of bath and body, menstrual care, home and hair, BLK + GRN is the perfect space with the perfect products to meet a woman's needs, and as their company motto would say - buy black and live green.
Juvia's Place by ChiChi Eburu
She was so sick of never being able to find effectively pigmented eyeshadow palettes that would cater to darker skin tones, so she decided to take things into her own hands. ChiChi created Juvia’s Place, delivering numerous super pigmented eyeshadow palettes, along with other beauty products catered towards ALL skin tones such as concealer, foundation, highlighter, gel eyeliner, and more.
Located in Toronto’s Kensington Market, Tribal Eye is an accessible and independent wholesaler/retailer of high quality all-natural beauty and self care products. They offer various products with organic unrefined ingredients which are key to clear, healthy and protected skin, such as their Shea Butter and Black Soap, which are a great foundation to any skincare routine, as they target a variety of skincare concerns like acne, acne scars, severe dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Ways To Support The BLM Movement:
Justice for George Floyd: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-jacob-frey-justice-for-george-floyd
Petition for All 4 Minneapolis Police Officers To Be Charged: https://www.change.org/p/change-org-the-minneapolis-police-officers-to-be-charged-for-murder-after-killing-innocent-black-man?signed=true
Justice for Emerald Black: https://www.change.org/p/san-leandro-police-deartment-justice-for-emerald-black
Justice for Breonna Taylor: https://www.change.org/p/andy-beshear-justice-for-breonna-taylor
Justice for Ahmaud Arbery: https://www.change.org/p/human-rights-campaign-justice-for-ahmuad-arbery
A list of more petitions to sign: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions
*please note that Change.org has various petitions that are worth signing, however the donations they receive are being used within the company, rather than being passed along to petition organizers or effected parties*
George Floyd Memorial: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
Ahmaud Arbery: https://www.gofundme.com/f/i-run-with-maud
Breonna Taylor: https://www.gofundme.com/f/9v4q2-justice-for-breonna-taylor
Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
How to support if you’re not able to donate - watch the following video without skipping the ads - all the advertisement revenue will be donated to causes associated with the Black Lives Matter movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM&feature=youtu.be
A list of more places to donate: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#donate
A LIST OF OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
Your support, whether it be through signing petitions, donating, and protesting or rallying, shouldn’t be only a week's worth of fighting - long term support will result in long term changes. Supporting black individuals and businesses in not an action to simply follow a trend; purchasing from these brands promotes a societal change, the upliftment of our Black brothers and sisters, and proves that black lives don’t just matter; Black is beautiful. Black is worthy, and so incredibly important in this world.