De-Conditioning: Don’t Invalidate Feelings

First and foremost let me make clear, it is not my job to teach you about racism. It’s an institution that affects everyone (whether it benefits or oppresses), you have access to resources like the internet and libraries. Watch a documentary, read a book. Don’t be self-absorbed, walk a day in someone else’s shoes. However, I understand the need to learn, to understand and want to help those who are at a complete loss. This series is called De-Conditioning, based on my theory that everyone is conditioned until they aren’t. We pass down the traits to our offspring that have helped us survive, depending on who you are it could mean you are programmed to entitlement, or to stay safe by being subservient. The importance of ancestry. These traits are passed down through epigenetic’s, the expression of gene’s without changing the structure of one’s DNA. Fortunately for us these expressions can be modified.

Society dictates that white people are the default human, everything else is other and “white culture” is normative. Band-aids and ballet shoes are made the color of caucasian skin tones then labeled “normal.” What does that make everyone else? If you’re white these are things you don’t think about, but if you aren’t all you notice are all the ways your existence has been erased, or made secondary. When the world caters to your needs (which was granted through violent and immoral tactics) it’s easy to drown out everybody else, even if it’s unintentional.

In February I was furious when actor turned influencer Ed Westwick, his girlfriend and a “producer” victimized themselves after trolling me. His girlfriend decided to copy me, from recreating the same photos, to taking work from this very website. I called them out giving them ample time to apologize. She cried (Karen behavior) and he babied her. Both felt it was okay, because I’m a black woman the “lesser” gender and race. My feelings didn’t matter. To top it off, other white women (and a black actress) felt it was my job to let it go, to move on, to eat shit. They could have taken the same time to hold all parties accountable, but I was the one who had to fix it, even though they created the situation. This is a typical and unacceptable response. A person of color expresses how they feel, only to have their feelings invalidated. When people do this it perpetuates this false truth that we are secondary, our feelings having to get your approval to be real, because until the white person agrees your voice doesn’t matter.

Stop invalidating the feelings of colored people. If a p.o.c tells you they felt someone was behaving in a manner that made them feel uncomfortable, listen. This person knows what they are talking about, for you it’s a complaint, for us it’s a survival mechanism that’s been fine tuned and passed down. We know when someone is racist, because it’s a matter of life or death for us. Stop shaming the victim, accusing them of playing the race card. It’s not a card, it’s their reality.

Have you ever had your feelings invalidated? How did that make you feel?

Keep that feeling.

Have you ever invalidated someone else’s feelings?

Go back to when you felt unheard, now you know how it feels when you do the same to a colored person.

The fact that this even has to be a conversation is evidence that you see people as other. See people as the collection of their experiences, not their skin tone, but as human because that’s what we are.

Via: Images You Won’t See On TV

Model Agent Insights

Going to the beach with a bunch of gays, who make a living on ranking women is not for the weak of heart. Thank the lord I was snatched to the gods and could handle it. These were model agents after all, women are merited based on aesthetics, which can sometimes spill over into real life. More than a time, or two I had to get them together. You aren’t in front of the camera for a reason, lest you forget.

Elite’s Manhattan office after hours, it was a special occasion. We drank remnants of an opened bottle of champagne from clear plastic cups, against a jaw dropping view of the skyline. Givenchy was debuting at New York Fashion Week, Riccardo Tisci at the helm. Three agents (DNA, Ford, Elite) and I sat encased in a glass box staring at the big screen. I’ve had an affinity for models since elementary school. Being the tallest girl in class most of my life, it was a relief to see people as gigantic as me. I was casted as a young girl, but my mom would never take me. Glory be, the industry is brutal, kudos to those who traverse it successfully, self-esteem still in tact. While I watched the show for the theatrics and artistry, they watched to see how the girls performed, the clothes completely escaping their minds.

Pat McGrath make-up and masks couldn’t conceal whose who. They recognized a model based on legit her ears! EARS for christ sake! In light of fashion week coming to a close, here are some things I’ve learned based on the insights of agents:

  • Agencies Are Ranked: If you don’t work for a top ten agency, you’re considered a joke. They will cackle and drag you to the catacombs, especially if you’re not in the top three. Forget about it.
  • Rankings Change: All the time, depending on who is traded where, earnings and how many supermodels are on the roster. One month it’s IMG, the next it’s The Society.
  • Weekend Of Tears: Is a thing, girls cry when they don’t make the cut for the big shows. You can find models in and out of various offices, faces stained, because they didn’t book Alexander Wang or Chanel.
  • Broke Until You’re Not: A lot of girls come as, well girls, teenagers who are placed in a model house. If you aren’t booked and making money, you’re going home broke and in debt (rent, transportation, food…). That’s why getting the big shows and campaigns matter, it means visibility and big bucks. Especially if you’re supporting a family overseas. No one wants to be dropped and owing the agency what they didn’t make back.
  • Male Models: Struggle more than anyone. Unless you’re a top male model, you’re nobody.

To be a success in this industry takes skill, tenacity and a thick skin. They make it look easy, because that’s their job. Whose your favorite mannequin? Photo: Riccardo Tisci Instagram