All Black Everything… Except Black Models

October 3, 2011  |  

by Selam Aster

There’s a reason that accusing someone of “saying one thing and doing another” is such a popular insult. It encapsulates being fake, hypocritical, and inauthentic. And unfortunately, that applies to the uber-producer and artist Kanye West. I’ve never taken him too seriously. I know that as much as he will stand up for Black victims of Hurricane Katrina one day, he’ll turn around and worship at the temple of the Kardashians the next. He’s inconsistent, I get that.

But amid the heels of the very political and black power sentiments in “Watch The Throne,”a collabo with Mr. All-Black himself Jay-Z, West’s blatant ignorance of his power and influence as evidenced in his debut fashion show at Paris Fashion Week is disturbing. Out of about 12 models who donned his women’s wear line, there were only two black faces. Seriously. Seriously??

It’s amazing that something so simple as expressing your supposed love of black culture by hiring your sistas to represent on the runway is lost on Mr. West. To him I say: you can talk about changing the world all day, you can rap about police discrimination all day, about how you were unfairly berated for insulting Taylor swift because you’re a black man, etc, but when it comes down to it, you’re just another gatekeeper yourself. Your small actions are just as important as your bold lyrics. And in this case, you could’ve made a small yet influential decision by telling (because you are indeed the boss) your fashion scout to hire black models.

West’s lack of action and indifference makes me question if all his sentiments about race amount to little more than adding a surprise factor to his music. On one of WTT’s best tracks, “Murder to Excellence,” Yaye raps about the lack of Black figures at the top:

Yeah it’s all messed up when it’s nowhere to go
So we won’t take the time out ’til we reach the T-O-P
From parolees to hold G’s, sold keys, low keys
We like the promised land of the OG’s
In the past if you picture events like a black tie
What the last thing you expect to see, black guys?

Hmm…what’s the last thing you expect to see on the runway Yeezy? Black girls. But yeah, you could’ve changed that reality by speaking a few words.

What do you think? Should we take Yeezy’s lyrics to heart? Or should we just accept it as entertainment?

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  • Kanye West has a clothing line? 


  • rebecca

    Thanks for sending me to Awkward Black Girl. Its so relatable

  • Reese

    Not just Kanye West. I ask what has any of these black clothes designers done for black folks. So what if he has 2 black models instead of 8. Where are his clothes made. Alot of the black designers clothes are made in India or Phillipines so why are we supporting any of these artist because they are black. It is sad that Bill Gates has done more for the black community than almost any 20 black celebrities combines. But we are asked to support black celebrities who are already rich and not doing anything for black community.

    • Big Mike

      Black entertainers do a LOT for communities. And obviously Bill Gates has the capacity to do more – his pocket change is worth more than 20 black celebrities combined.

      Do some research before you post.

  • Reese

    It is not about us because truth be told nobody wants Kanye he is off and anybody can see that. But if black people in business act no different from white people why should we support them. Go to other communities and see the stores in Asian communities and see if you see them hiring all white people. You will be lucky if you see anybody nonwhite. Same with other communities. So you can buy him if you want, but if he is no different than any other person than his clothes will get the same consideration as white people. If not less because he has opportunity to do better.

  • Cookie

    A trillion $ buying power! Black women what are we going to do about that? Forget Kanye he is who is and he doesn’t care what WE think. A trillion $ buying power!! Our communities are RICH! lol

  • Cici & Coco -The Besties

    Lets be real here.. No one cares about kanye.. I never supported him & i never will. Idc what he thinks of black women cause it all goes back to his dead mother.


    This season, Love is the New Black-

  • No disrespect

    Candy, you sound a bit naive and he did use famous models. Not everything is about race, but clearly the lack of black models in the fashion world is a race issue and one that Kanye as a "fashion icon" is well aware of. I'm not even a fashionista and I know about the issue. It was a conscious or subconscious decision to use only 2 black models. It is a cop out, and a sad one at that, to completely ignore the issue.

  • No disrespect

    "Just because that is the way it is, doesn't mean that is the way it should be." Kanye should have been confident enough to rise above and stand out, but he wasn't. He stood for nothing and went with the flow. In my book, that makes him a sellout. As a man, as a black man, and as a human being. He needs some confidence ASAP. What's the point of having power and influence if you don't do anything special with it. As a black woman, why should I celebrate Kanye's accomplishment when he is too ashamed to include more than 2 black women in his show? All he cares about is money. If he did something to celebrate, I would have something to celebrate – there would be a proud moment to boast.

  • No disrespect

    I agree and disagree. I agree that we should compete, but I disagree that we shouldn't speak up. These "rich" black men are too busy trying to fit in instead of making a difference. It is just sad. Where is the self confidence that he claims he has? If he was so self confident, he would have been different/unique. But, I guess acceptance is all he really wants. If you have to tell everyone how great you are, then, obviously, you aren't that great. Kanye is transparent. He doesn't have much self-esteem and isn't very sure of who he is or who he wants to be and, until he figures that out, he will always be inconsistent.

    • Brodie

      Why should black women be occupied with how black men want to fit in? What exactly are we "speaking up" about? We're worry about things like this too much. The time we could spend being productive we waist on whst black men are trying to do or do without black women and we need to cut that out. Its so one sided.

  • My knee-jerk reaction was disappointment. Then I read the first few comments, which made some sense. I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope/assume he made an effort to use as many black models as possible.

  • Kayla

    everything is not about race, would these damn black woman quit trying to grasp at air. who gives a flying fck, are black woman gonna go out and support their fellow black person by buying his clothes. NO. he makes music for black people and named the line after his deceased mother DW= Donda West. But that isn't enough is it. And his good buddy Jay-Z is married to a powerful black woman. All these desperate black woman looking for someone to represent them, or give them special recognition is just plain stupid. And besides there are plenty successful black models that are representing for yall anyway… ( Chanel Iman, Tyra, Naomi.. etc) More than likely black woman weren't going to be buying his clothes anyways so who are they to complain.

    • Big Mike

      Kayla, your posts are always logical. Keep it up.

      My only question would be are Kanye's (or anyone else's) endeavors creating jobs for Americans. Contrary to popular belief, small and medium sized businesses are the major employers, and if he can employ some black folks, then there is SOME good coming out of the project (some things can be in poor taste, but if jobs are created, then there's that silver lining. JMO)

    • Brodie

      No he doesn't make music for black people, despite the fact that he said "In this White Man's world" in Power. His make music to sell to anyone who will buy. As far as who gives a flying flip, well we do. People are moved by their perceptions. Him choosing to honor his late mother was for his own comfort and ironically your perception of this action along with Jay Z's choice in spouse affects how you view these men. "All of these black women" when there aren't even 40 comments and I've written 4 at this point? You might be exaggerating a bit. I can't argue with your point about the pleading for representation. I don't like the idea of black women giving away opportunities that they could take advantage of and line their pockets at the same time. But as far as buying his clothes, we can't make that call yet. Black women splurge on accessories more than clothing across the board. Now why tell him that when I can tell another sister and let her collect where he didn't even bother to look? Should we support black entertainers who are already worth a few million and not competing for our money or a small business who can offer a personal touch that will keep us coming back.

      • Kayla

        wait. here's the funny part, how do you know he didn't try and get more black models???? were you working behind the scenes??? do you know Kanye personally??? i'm no fashion expert but if i'm not mistaken the designer doesn't choose the models, a scout or something does.
        And seeing as how hard he took the news of his mother passing, why wouldn't he want to honor her?? so you think him naming his line after his dead mother, meant he had alterior(sp?) motives? damn at least give him some credit. And even if he had all black models, would the black community(woman) go out and support their fellow black person and buy his clothes.? Most likely not. What I don't understand is why are people in such of an uproar over a line of clothes they weren't going to buy in the first place?

        And on a side note there has been fashion shows in the past where there were models of alot of different ethnicity.. not just black either.

    • No disrespect

      Kayla, please take a second to consider the bigger picture. The reason you had to use ellipses and "etc" is because you ran out of names. There aren't that many black supermodels. Black women buy designer clothes as much as white women so why can't there be more than 2 black models in a runway show. Why shouldn't we demand that black models be employed so that a sister can get a paycheck from the money we are spending? If you were a model working hard, wouldn't you want a shot. Well, I am speaking on behalf of the up and coming models who weren't given a shot because of the "quota" that has been put in place by these designers who are becoming rich off of middle and upper middle class black women. You can continue to live in la la land. I hope one day you will come into the real world. Go ahead and read some magazine articles about black models who are turned away because these designers are looking for a "white woman who has been dipped in chocolate" meaning a black woman with white features and stories about black models who can't get booked because of the arbitrary quotas set. I have commented on this issue because it breaks my heart to know that the fashion world is so openly racist and yet people are turning a blind eye and blaming it on the fit of the clothes. All these girls are stick thin, I'm sure you can find one outfit that fits them "right." Plus, it says a lot about who these designers actually want wearing their clothes, but I digress.

      • Kayla

        there are more black models representing. . But most of them are lesser known. But still black models none the less. And i do know there are a few African models.( I didn't know their names that's why i didn't mention them) What I don't understand is why does this make him less of a black person? This isn't a black country, Why are we as black people constantly begging white people for acceptance into their this and that? and how do you know he didn't try and get more black models???? im no fashion expert but if im not mistaken the designer themselves don't pick out the models. a scout does. well then prepared to be heart broken more often cuz racism is everywhere, don't expect whites to give us handouts.

    • Reese

      My point is why should we buy his clothes if he is doing just like the white people. Alot of those black designers clothes are not made in America and bring no jobs to black people so why should I support him just because he is black.

  • Janay

    The answer is clear. Based upon the many comments on here about it being “his time” and being the “first black man” shows the answer is clear. Black men are about them. It is not a “we” or “us” mentality anymore and the comments on here in a nutshell are for you to accept that sad fact. This is why black women should use that 1.1 trillion purchasing power to give black women glory because the rich black men don’t give a damn.

    • Reese

      I keep saying it. We are own are own and we need to support bw. But we are always attacing each other. I would like to hear about bw who have businesses where we can buy and support each other. Because the bm is only about bm, he has no loyality to bw or even black children. Stop supporting them in everything they do.

  • Brodie

    Lets be honest. Community jurisdiction over who a black man or black woman could marry and have children with wasn't started by black women, but we tend to enforce it more and I wish we'd stop. I really wish we'd quit looking at what black men take to bed as a way to validate their stance on racial politics.

    I am very passionate about black people and the potential I see in our collective community is so underrated. I'll happily invest in any venture that I want to see more of and voice my opinion about anything that seems to threaten it. But I'll be damned if black men (or black women) tell me who I should share my time with in an intimate relationship. The least I could do is offer the same courtesy.

  • psycho’s woman

    Amber Rose is half black and half white (according to Hip Hop Wired article White Women who has power). As for Yeezy, I could care less with his contradictory ass. He lost what was left of his mind when his mother died. It dosen’t surprise me that he had only 2 black models.

  • Camomn

    there is a black model at his show..

    Subway giving away $100 giftcards …4 their 40th anniversary…next 24 hours only ..i been eating free all

  • Jaci Henley

    But arent you really supporting the argument WHY it was significant that HE didnt make a concious effort to use black models?
    1. It was his moment.
    2. The FIRST black man to have a runway show in Paris
    3 Some of them had NO black models.

    I know that designers instruct what they want the models to look like, whether they select them themselves or not.
    And if this show was such a significant "moment" then he would have been somewhat hands on, I would assume.

    Yes, it was his moment. But let it be known it isnt lost on us, that in his "moment" he chose to be (or allowed himself to be) status quo, contrary to his image.

    But we all view from different perspectives, I suppose. But he seemed to be more conscious than that.

    • Victoria

      I understand what you're saying but that is a trivial issue. Nobody wants to look at the big picture. They just want to nit-pick the finer details. wrote, "What Kanye West is trying to achieve is unprecedented… tonight's show suggests that conquering his new medium is a work in progress."

      Women's Wear Daily concurred: "It had the earnest veneer of a beginner, which was sort of endearing."

      Which is a pretty big accomplishment. WWD is like the fashion bible. And I'm just gonna add that although it's Kanye's line, the designer behind it was largely a London-based designer Katie Eary. Who is white. So as for the question of input on what they want in a model, well there you go.

      AND Lala brought up a good point which was: "Well in his defense, the fittings were rushed for the show. Models were only called up literally like a day or 2 before the show. Lucky for him, Chanel Iman made it to Paris. Perhaps many others could not…"

      • Jaci Henley

        In his rant about his show being panned and give really bad reviews he said he used his own money and selected the best models. So he did in fact select the women in his show.
        And his response was not only sophomoric and profanity latened, but it also shows he's a tad bit off his rocker.

        • Victoria

          I'm aware he got bad reviews. He also got good reviews. Which is typical for a new designer. But did you notice anyone "reviewing" the models? NOOO. You know why? It's because everyone is more concerned about his *CLOTHES. But you guys are more concerned the SKINTONE of the models. Ignorant to say the least.

          When you do things like that you hold your own selves back. Tearing down each other and making a big deal out of trivial matters; those things don't help the black communtiy at all. It promotes a stereotype that black people can't ever get along or support each other. I read hella article about his line. I didn't hear anything at all about any "profanity laden" interviews. So I almost want to assume you just made it up because you clearly don't like him. I have to wonder for how many of you is this just a personal thing?

          Let's just be real honest here and which of you can HONESTLY say that your dislike of the whole scenario is based on the fact that there were only two black models or based on how much you already don't like him? You guys say you want Kanye (and others) to "support" you in the media but if he did would you have really bought his clothes? I don't think so because it's clear you already hate him. And furthermore how many of you even support black businesses? Bet there's a small percentage. This guy "Brodie" syas he doesn't support them because all they sell in African imported goods and soul food? That's not IGNORANT?! Maybe you need to do your research but although we my not have as many companies as other races we DO own and run businesses other than soul food & African goods. There are black fashion designers, there are black magazines, there are small independent boutiques, ETC.

          • Reese

            I disagree about you blaming us for tearing each other down. When other ethnicities do business they do it with there own. If I go to my friend Sharon's(she is Asian) house and people are working there they are all Chinese. So they don't support us and expect us to support them because they are black. Where are his clothes made because I bet you he ain't putting jobs in the black community like alot of the other designers who are having clothes made in places like India. So support him in doing what becoming rich? And you say we are concerned with trivial matters like race, but that is the only reason why you are saying we should support him. Or tell me has he put some jobs in projects ,making his clothes. HELL NO, I know he hasn't.

      • Reese

        So what. Nobody is saying he can't have who he wants to have as a model. My question is if he doesn't put any more black models in the shoot than white people why should we support him or care about his line. We shouldn't it might be a good acomplishment, but support who supports you. And that leaves most bm out. They no longer get a pass atleast not from me.

  • Vee

    Russel Simmons – Phat pharm / Baby Phat
    Jay Z -Rocawear
    Diddy – Sean Jean

    All of them used mostly Black models (men and women) in their ads and runway shows and their lines were extremely successful in their time so I don't by the $$ or catering to your audience argument. 13% of the population is not supporting those brands…other people are buying it.

    I assume that when you are Black and successful this stuff should come naturally….(especially when you are so vocal about these issues). I would think "Heres my opportunity to right some of the wrongs I complain about now that I have some power…let me include more Black models than the usual 2 or 3" . Kanye has always been a hypocrite though ('Jesus Walks anyone..?) in more ways than one, I like a lot of his music because of the production aspect, but I never took him seriously as an artist. He wasn't lying when he said he was insecure. He reminds me of a whiny little boy that just wants to be accepted by the masses.

    @lala there are many Black models in Paris

    • No disrespect

      Thank you. We are definitely on the same page!

  • Lala

    Well in his defense, the fittings were rushed for the show. Models were only called up literally like a day or 2 before the show. Lucky for him, Chanel Iman made it to Paris. Perhaps many others could not…

    • No disrespect

      Lol, I wasn't there, but, I'm pretty sure a lot more than 2 black models showed up. I pretty sure that a lot more than 2 black models live in Paris or close by. I'm pretty sure a lot more than 2 black models showed up because Kanye is black. As with any profession, most black people think they stand a better chance with a black employer so more blacks will apply. However, as Kanye proved, as is often the case, your chances are the same and sometimes worse. Let's be honest and avoid the BS.

  • Just another guy

    Unfortunately the only color that matters is green and his consumers will mostly be white people. If he comes out and has all black models people will call him racist and not buy it. He already has a reputation for being racist. I still think when Kanye West decides to settle down or have kids it will be with a black woman. From listening to his lyrics you can tell he is racist. A lot of black women may feel left out but hip hop/rap etc. is no longer black people's music. Its not uncommon these days to see a truck full of white boys blasting Gucci Mane.

  • chickieboo

    amber rose is part black her mother is black (she even looks like pam grier) google them on the internet.

    • Victoria

      Amber is mixed with West African (her mother is the African one) and white. She even identifies herself as West African or Black when asked.

      I agree that Kanye has lost his mind after his mother died. Afterall, she died from attempting to have multiple plastic surgeries in one day with money he provided to her. That would make anyone crazy. If my mother passed because of money I gave her out of my own hands I would feel so guilty and heartbroken. I remember when 808s & Heartbreaks came out, I loved every song, but it was filled with sadness. People should just pray for him and give him support instead of bashing him. That will only made it worse. He needs guidance or some church on Sunday maybe but I don't see why people hate him so much.

      Kanye is afterall the only rapper I've ever seen to this day make a song like Jesus Walks or Diamonds are Forever. And not only did he make songs with a real message but the message was recieved! Played in the club. #1 on the Billboard Charts etc…He is just lost right now.

      And I have noticed he has been trying to change. He apologized to G.W. Bush & Taylor Swift for his comments. He doesn't rush the stage at award shows anymore. He's been staying out of the headlines and cut out all the crazy antics. He just overall appears to be more humble.

  • sasja

    Yeah it was blantenly clear , that these rappers do nor really care for our black sisters!.Kanye is a good example , he says he is black & he is proud, but when it comes down to show your fellow sisters how fierce & bold they look on a run way you bail out so typical.

  • radiorascoe

    very good point Brodie. I mean, let's be honest, did we really expect Kanye to do anything else other than what he did (shrug shoulders)

    • Brodie

      Hell Nope.

  • Anna

    To be honest I didn't notice that their were only two models. I was distracted by the fact that the clothes. *Kanye shrug*. But I do agree… once you get out of grassroots and into the mainstream… you lose the focus of your plight and your priorities change.