Sa'iyda Shabazz
Updated Feb 19, 2017 @ 1:54 pm
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Model Ebonee Davis has never shied away from talking about the issue of race in the fashion industry. This week, Ebonee Davis’ TED Talk she gave on the subject at the University of Nevada was ~finally~ released to the public and it was spot on. Davis, a model, writer, and activist spoke candidly about the diversity issues in the fashion industry while offering solutions to make it a more inclusive industry as societal notions of beauty begin to evolve. Davis has been featured in campaigns for Adidas, Calvin Klein, and has been featured in Sports Illustrated. She’s a badass and she’s made channeling #blackgirlmagic one of her missions.

In the TED Talk, Davis was open about her struggles as a black woman in the fashion industry. “I figured that once I got a contract, the industry would open up for me, But at every turn, I was met with resistance. I had white agents with no knowledge of black hair care run their fingers through my hair and tell me things like, ‘We already have a girl with your look.’ Translation: All black girls look the same.”

After being told repeatedly by her agents that they “didn’t know what to do with her,” Davis was hurt and disheartened. Her hurt was only deepened when on July 5th, 2016, Alton Sterling was murdered by police…the same day her Calvin Klein campaign launched. She was moved to speak on the issue, penned an open letter to the fashion industry telling them “it is no longer acceptable for us to revel in black culture with no regard for the struggles facing the black community … The time for change is now.”

In the months since her letter, Davis’ belief that the industry still has a responsibility to diversity and inclusion has not changed. She still firmly believes that they have work to do. “I don’t want to be hired so I can fill an HR box. I want to be hired for my unique contribution to the industry. Instead of forcing my beauty into your pre-existing box and asking me to change, expand your definition of beauty to be inclusive.” Exactly.

You can hear the whole thing here:

Thank you, Ebonee.