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Dapper Dan Meets With Gucci, Develops Inclusion Action Plan

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Following the celebrity supported Gucci boycott, Dapper Dan met with the brand to discuss diversity, inclusion, and accountability. Their meeting concluded, the cultural icon of hip-hop fashion design plans to hold all fashion houses accountable for diversity and inclusivity within their respective brands.

Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day, along with a team of experts, approached Gucci with demands that the fashion house acts in the best interest of underrepresented groups. Comprised of ninety percent people of color, the team of corporate experts sat down with Gucci executives to develop a long-term action plan to make amends for a racially-insensitive balaclava design.

The $890 sweater featured a balaclava that, when extended, covered the wearer and mimicked blackface. Causing an immediate social media uproar, Gucci removed the sweater and acknowledged their mistake. Dapper Dan, who frequently used the brands imagery while establishing himself as a hip-hop couturier, was taken aback.

No Excuses

In 2017, recognition from Jay-Z and Black Twitter earned Dap a partnership with the luxury clothier. Dapper Dan partnered with Gucci’s CEO and creative director to develop a line of men’s wear. Ultimately, this resulted in a new atelier which opened in Harlem in 2018, making Dapper Dan of Harlem the first luxury fashion house in the Manhattan neighborhood. Still, this history of partnership and accomplishment did not muddy Dan’s feelings about Gucci’s despicable error.

Pledging to hold the brand accountable for their error, Dapper Dan and the corporate elite met with Gucci and discussed how the brand planned to atone for their cultural ignorance. Upon news of his meeting, celebrities who were participating in the boycott took to social media to share their discontentment. This prompted Dapper Dan to release a statement in defense of his meeting. He checked the culture on their disposal of Black fashion brands along with acknowledging the lack of opportunity for aspiring designers.

We have to LEARN TO EARN. What happened to all the Black fashion brands that failed since the ’80s? Was it because they didn’t get Black support, or was it because they didn’t know the business? Do you expect our young Black designers to spend 30+ years mastering fashion by teaching themselves as I did? How do you expect them to compete with the big brands if they don’t REALLY know the business? They need jobs and internships within these big brands so that they can learn and then branch out on their own.

We Must Hold Everyone Accountable

Addressing the opposition, Dapper Dan remarked that those who wanted to continue to boycott were free to do as they pleased. Before ending his statement, he added, “if anyone should be boycotted, it’s the brands that won’t give our young people an opportunity to learn. In an additional Instagram post featuring Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Jay-Z, Dapper Dan called out artists who purchased clothes on credit and then never patronized his business again once they achieved fame. Both the athlete and rapper-turned-business-mogul were integral in Dan’s reestablishment process after other luxury brands robbed him of his designs.

Insisting we must not only hold the brands accountable, but we must have a plan of action to amend the mistake and move forward, Dapper Dan invited Gucci to join the 21st century with new diversity and inclusivity policies. Their meeting, facilitated by a round-table of nearly ninety percent people of color, birthed an action plan for immediate implementation. Following the conclusion of their meeting, Gucci released a statement apologizing and outlining their long-term action plan to address culture and diversity awareness in the company.

Mediation, Resolution, Progress

Several key points of their intended plan include the creation of several jobs for global and regional directors for diversity and inclusion, a global learning program for diversity and inclusivity awareness, and a global exchange program. The company is also committing to a multi-cultural design scholarship. The 12-month fast track program, which partners with fashion schools, will amplify opportunities to underrepresented groups which will lead to full-time employment. Schools of focus for the scholarship are in New York (Harlem), Nairobi, New Delhi, Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Beirut, London, and Dubai.

These immediate actions were developed with Dapper Dan, expert industry leaders, and Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s current President and CEO. While many hold the ideology that you should not applaud a fish for swimming, it is important to remember that Gucci’s efforts are far above and beyond other companies, i.e. H&M.

Following H&M’s disastrous “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle” debacle, the company hired just two diversity leaders for their Global and North American markets and issued a public apology. The company has been unable to recover from their mistake which caused The Weeknd and G-Eazy to reject collaboration opportunities. One-year removed from their failure, H&M has recently announced 160 store closings worldwide.

Given Gucci’s response to their racist design and proposals for improvement, will you continue to boycott?

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High School Students Stage Sit-In Protest Against Racism

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Students Protest

In response to how school faculty have handled a racist video, students of Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx have staged an overnight-sit-in protest. Dissatisfied with faculty’s response to demands to address racism on the school’s campus, students have rallied and locked staff out of the administration building until they reached an agreement.

Outrage Lead to Action

More than 200 high school students of the K-12 academy occupied the building to demand action. They were outraged by the response to a video which featured White students counting down before blurting racist, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs. The video gained attention after circulating Twitter and eventually being reported on by The New York Times. However, school administrative officials did the bare minimum by only condemning the video without stating a plan for disciplinary action. Knowing only one of the students involved had withdrawn from the exclusive academy, students developed a plan to hold staff accountable. Thus, Students of Color Matter was born.

The standoff between students and staff lasted for 72 hours before an agreement was met. Each day the students, who developed a Twitter, Instagram, and petition, posted demands to their accounts. March 11th, the students began with a statement on Instagram:

“We are here today in light of recent events imploring those who desire to see out institution more forward to stand in solidarity with the students of color and white allies of the Ethical Culture Fieldston Community. Today a lockout will take place in the administration building (the 200s) as a means to force our administration to acknowledge the concerns we’ve been bringing to their attention over the past several years”

After outlining the reason for their cause, Students of Color Matter organizers detailed updates as well as their demands.

All or Nothing

The administration was sent an email by students which resulted in the head of the school, Jessica Bagby, alerting parents and students that “Fieldston campus will operate on a normal schedule.” The students also integrated a hashtag, which added pressure due to its discovery by major media sources. Despite the non-violent protest, there were two physical altercations which involved a history teacher and a parent attempting to enter the closed facility. Jessica Bagby’s inadequate response to the students’ demands and inability to commit to change is what ultimately caused the 72-hour standoff.

As of March13th, the students had roughly 3,000 signatures on their petition. Housed on their Students of Color Matter website, the organization calls for the following:

The use of racist and bigoted language are symptoms of systemic and institutional racism that plague educational institutions across the country. For this reason, we command the implementation of structural reform, such as long term curriculum changes, the admittance of more students and faculty of color, and racial sensitivity training for all community members.”

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Jaden Smith Brings Mobile Water Filtration System to Flint

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Jaden Smith Water Box

Flint, Michigan has been ravaged by a bad city-wide deal that resulted in tainted water for nearly five years. Now, Jaden Smith’s startup may provide a solution to the city’s needs water needs.

Called “The Water Box”, Jaden’s mobile water filtration device was unveiled in Flint at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. Able to produce 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute, the actor-rapper turned philanthropist hopes the invention will help the community. Housed within the church, which previously distributed over 5 million bottles of water to the community, residents will be able to fill any container of their choice with clean water. However, they are required to do so during distribution times.

After Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended the free bottled water program initiated by the state, Jaden and crew stepped up through JUST Water. JUST Water is a company that Jaden Smith became a partner of at just 12 years old. The company, which “combines for-profit energy and non-profit motives,” began from a desire to develop a filtration system to benefit poorer areas and nations. Making clean water more accessible, the company first launched in August 2018 in the UK.

Speaking about his community effort, Jaded remarked, “This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally. He added,” Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and designing something to help them has been a journey I will never forget.” Jaden Smith plans to continue deploying more filtration systems across the city to benefit those in need and looks forward to aiding more places experiencing similar issues.

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Jussie Smollett | In The Middle

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