Diversity and inclusion has been a hot topic in the fashion industry for the longest. From accepting different body shapes to proper representation on the runways, designers and celebrities alike, have been rallying for a change. Maxwell Osborne–co-creative director for DKNY and co-founder of Public School–took a stand on an issue dear to him by writing an open letter to the fashion industry urging them to show support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
I could have sat at my desk and just focused on the work piling up. I could have just posted a picture on Instagram. But something compelled me to go into the streets last week and join the movement. For a while now, I have been touched by Black Lives Matter. For three years, its members have taken to the streets and – quietly, defiantly – staged protest after protest after protest and, despite a still-roiling epidemic, they have not tired. They continue to raise questions that we as a country need to ask ourselves and they have reminded a community that the deaths of their own will not be forgotten, nor will they be in vain.
As a designer, they’ve made me question what my role is in all of this, what can I do? I decided that I could no longer just sit on the sidelines. Last Thursday afternoon, I left my office in the Garment District, called a group of friends – black, white, Asian, mixed – and we all headed down to Union Square together to join hundreds of others in a peaceful protest of the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. At that moment in my office there was nothing anyone could have done to stop me. I felt I needed to be out there with Black Lives Matter, show face and feel it.
I’m 33 years old and it was my first time taking part in a protest.
I didn’t know what to expect but I was immediately taken back by the camaraderie. Everybody, a big melting pot of people reflective of the city they call home, seemed proud to be there. We were all standing together, side by side, a bunch of strangers chanting the same thing: Black. Lives. Matter. One artist, Dread Scott, made a flag that read, “A Black Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday,” and we took turns waving it. That feeling of unity gave me goose bumps. I hadn’t felt that in a while.
What I saw last Thursday was a city united and mobilized in peace for a common purpose. What I witnessed was that love outclasses hate, ALWAYS.