“I didn’t know” is not an acceptable excuse for racism

Be clear, at Gucci and Prada, there was a chain of command which approved sketches, then prototypes that led to the final products being manufactured. A solicitation process was opened to determine who who would make these products. The fabrics, colors, materials were selected. A specific color palette was chosen. Then, a bidding process called on manufacturers to make their case for being the best company to produce these products. An advertising plan was developed. Models were chosen. Display designs were created.

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All of those eyes were required before these products came to market and not ONE person thought this could a problem? Who was at the table when people were pitching new ideas? No one saw the horribly racist historical context? Who was the target audience? No one spoke up? How diverse is your decision-making spaces Gucci? Prada? Businesses, political arenas, schools around the world should be asking that question.

This is how blackface becomes a party favor & gets approved by schools, yearbook editors, family members, spouses, children in all circles.

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This isn’t new. Now is the time to make sure nobody can say they didn’t know.

Having the dialogues help eradicate the hate. We cannot afford to ignore racism or treat it as if it is a relic that has been made extinct by some laws on paper. Like measles or other illnesses, unless you take steps to keep the illness out of societal bloodstream (education is a vaccination), it will surely return. Racism doesn’t just go away by itself. It takes sustained action and policies that help racists know that they, their words, policies and practices are NOT welcome — ANYWHERE. Help educate the world. No more excuses. #EradicateRacism

The Grio and others have written about this problem of our past — and present.

Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture or any nearby repository of Black history. You say you don’t know if there is a Black museum near you? Here’s a directory — Schools aren’t teaching students enough about the harsh global history of race and racism in this world.

We are getting too many moments of “oops” & “my bad” when it comes to race. Surely people have had epiphanies and became better people over time. True contrition requires evidence beyond an apology. It takes time — and that is measured on the clock of the offended, not the offender. The offender has to accept that, and will do so, if they are really sorry for the act.

Actor Liam Neeson has been called “brave” for expressing his desire to take out his anger on a random Black man, because a Black man raped a friend of his. He called the unknown assailant a very derogatory, during the interview. Now he is defending himself by saying “he’s not racist.” Perhaps he’s evolved, but his tone and desires didn’t seem to focus on the violent act but the race of the perpetrator; whom he called a “black bastard”. Imagine what this society would look like if every person, who has been harmed physically or psychologically by another person, took out their anger on a random person, who fit the race/ethnicity/gender of the person they disliked. Sorry, there’s no bravery in using racial profiling to seek vengeance. Yet, Black & Brown & Immigrant & Native people are victimized by racists across the planet — because of who they are — daily.

You are on one side or the other. No more apologies without sustained follow-up & commitment to right the wrong.

For those who take pride in wearing labels — racist is a label, too. The world knows better. No more excuses.

I invite you to take 2 to 5 minutes for a glimpse of what I think about issues of the day. Nonpartisan, yet, some might not agree - just don’t be disagreeable.

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