A is for Approval- Avoid approving any media campaigns marketing to, for or with POC without a POC (who feels safe to be honest) in the room.
B is for Black Twitter- Black Twitter is cultural appropriation kryptonite. Unlike in the past, when designs could be stolen by bigger and wealthier brands without notice or recourse, Black Twitter is always watching and they will call you out.
C is for Cite Your Sources- As stated by Dario Calmese in his @BOF article, culture is erased when top fashion brands profit from pieces “inspired” by small, minority fashion designers without giving credit.
D is for Diversity Directors: H&M just got one. Google and Apple have them too. Every company, large and small, needs someone who is paid to keep companies and their staff accountable to being inclusive, fair and culturally sensitive.
E is for Edges- Leave them to the (black hair) professionals.
F is for Find Meaning: Find out why people wear what they wear AND what it means to them. The more an article of clothing means to the community, the less likely you can get away with making it just another trend.
G is for Global: This isn’t an American problem, nor is the outrage. The H&M ad was marketed by their British division, featured a black boy living in Sweden with his Kenyan parents, and inspired South African protesters to trash their stores.
H is for Hair- is a critical part of black fashion. Cultural appropriation has come in the form of cornrows, box braids, afros and dreadlocks. For years WOC were programmed to (self) hate the natural kinkiness of our hair, but now that we have reclaimed it, stay clear of copying our hair.
I is for Inclusion: Inclusion means that there are no campaigns a POC isn’t appropriate for. We live everywhere, we wear everything, we buy everything. We are everything.
J is for Journalistic Integrity: Fashion journalists do your research. Avoid trolling for clickbait by attributing a trend to someone rich and white, just because it isn’t “sexy” that its already been done by someone poor and black.
K is for Kardashians: They win the prize for most offenses. Don’t @ me.
L is for Listen: Listen to the communities you use for inspiration. And that means you need to actually talk to them and heed their opinions, even if it means bad things for your profit margin.
M is for Melanin: If a Model has it before the photo shoot, they should have it after the Photoshop
N is for Nuances: There are nuances behind why people wear what they wear. If you copy their style without truly understanding them, you undermine and destroy the significance, impact and value of that particular practice/object/tradition. You reduce them to oversimplified stereotypes. No bueno.
O is for One Dimensional: This is how cultures are portrayed when coopted by fashion brands that don’t fully understand them. These interpretations never read as inspired, rather they are easily revealed to be superficial and exploitative.
P is for Permission: Which is needed from the communities that inspire you, before you copy their shit… as well as proper credit…and let’s not forget, financial compensation.
Q is for Questions: There are no stupid ones. Ask them all. And ask them before the full media roll-out. The money lost to a reshoot will be paltry compared to the money lost to international backlash. I’m looking at you Pepsi.
R is for Responsibility: If you cant handle the responsibility of using other cultures for inspiration, you don’t deserve the privilege. Sure, you can be inspired by a hair or clothing trend popular within black & brown communities, but we also expect you to speak out against police brutality and institutionalized racism, and cast women of color for your fashion show and shoots.
S is for Social media- Which is like the stone that ultimately took down Goliath. The black community might appear less powerful than the billion dollar fashion conglomerates they challenge, but like David, they will use Twitter to take you down.
T is for Teamwork: Gucci’s recent collaboration with Dapper Dan is evidence of the success that can happen when white fashions brands offer to work with black designers rather than co-opt them.
U is for Undo: You can’t undo the slight of perceived appropriation. Though Gucci tried to retroactively explain using Dapper Dan’s designs as a homage to his work, no one believes they would have given credit without the ensuing backlash.
V is for Variety: We don’t all look like Beyonce. POC have range in skin color, hair texture, body built, religion and culture. Don’t homogenize us.
W is for Wallet: The weapon we will wield if you don’t take our complaints about culture appropriation seriously.
X is for Xenophobic: Just like a white cop can’t be successful at their job AND afraid of the black people they’re hired to protect, a white brand can’t successfully sell clothes inspired by black people they are afraid to engage with.
Y is for Yuppification: We won’t stand by for the gentrification of all our delicious edge and flavor.
Z is for Zealously:How we’ll continue to come after you if you continue to steal our shit.