Fashion magazines are giving space to new journalists like for example, Kemi Fatoba, who’s just started writing the column “Schwarz mit grossem S” (Black with capital B) for Vogue Germany.
The Berlin-based Guest Editor at Vogue studied at the University of Vienna, where she got a Master’s degree in Communication and Media Studies before working as a freelance writer and content strategist, and launching an online magazine that tackles issues like sexism, homophobia and racism.
Her new column in a high profile magazine like Vogue Germany is a clear sign that racism is not a problem happening only in America; it is a global issue that magazines around the world are starting to address.
With so much being said these days about Blackness and BLM, we especially liked the first piece Kemi Fatoba wrote for her new column. The article is very interesting and relevant because it comes from her perspective as a black woman. Keep reading the main points the journalist explains in the article.
Racism doesn’t define Black people
Although racism affects Black people, it doesn’t define them; there is so much joy, beauty, and happiness in Blackness. Fatoba tries not to give this topic too much space. Until something happens like the murder of George Floyd that’s been in the international media these past weeks.
All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Social media and violence
The writer recalls being shocked as a child, at seeing photos of Rodney King, an African-American being brutally beaten by police officers in L.A. She says she never wanted to see this kind of pictures anymore. But recently, people keep sharing on social media videos that show extreme violence without any warning. Fatoba explains she “doesn’t have to watch soldiers shoot innocent civilians to understand the cruelty of war”. So why must she watch, over and over again, Black people being brutally beaten or murdered? Although the UN human rights state that “All people are equal in dignity and rights”, she feels that these principles don’t apply when it comes to the dignity of Black people.
Effects on the psyche
Fatoba writes that “if people who are affected by racism are repeatedly reminded of these experiences – be it personally or through media reports – this causes re-traumatisation, i.e. a reliving of the traumatic events.”
We do not need half-hearted, performative online activism, but sincere solidarity – especially in real life.
The right to distraction
To avoid re-traumatisation, many Black people had to go offline these past weeks to protect themselves. But don’t they have the right to distract themselves with cute pictures if they want to? Fatoba says she doesn’t want to be flooded again with terrible images.
A better way of dealing with consternation
The Berlin-based journalist offers an excellent alternative way of dealing with these horrible events. Stop sharing videos with graphic violence that dehumanize the victim. Instead, post photos that remind us that the person who was killed was loved, had plans for the future. And she adds; “preferably together with donations for anti-racism initiatives”.
More important than posting black squares on social media, we need to have sincere solidarity. It means, among other things, engaging seriously with the issue of racism. For example, having long, unpleasant conversations with work colleagues, friends and family members about their racism. But it also means having more consideration for the mental health of Black people. In other words, avoiding to share on social media images that may cause distraught, especially without warning. She concludes; “We cannot hide racism, but we have the right to decide for ourselves when and how we deal with it.“
The writer stated on LinkedIn, “In the last days, I saw many white people speaking up against racism for the first time, which is a good start. Please keep it up, we can’t wait to see what individuals, businesses, and brands are doing next to actively support us and make Black lives matter“.