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by R. Asmerom

In an age when talk of a “post-racial society” abounds, it is refreshing to see such a bold statement like “I Love Being Black” embraced by so many. The apparel line, which stamps that announcement of cultural pride on everything from t-shirts to wrist bracelets, recently claimed another big achievement: attaining over 4 million Facebook fans. That’s a big feat for a small company. And it speaks volumes about the unique cultural message framing the business.

Kumi Rauf started ILBB in 2003 when he was a student at University of California, Santa Barbara. He sees his company not just as a business but as a movement. Rauf elaborates on how and why he started his innovative company.

I’ve read about how you founded this line to counteract negativity related to Black self-esteem. Was this an issue that was on your mind from a young age or did something spark for you when you were in high school or college?

The images of how Black people are portrayed in mainstream media, and sometimes how we portray ourselves, has been a splinter in my mind since a young age. A young Malcolm X realized this, my Father realized this and I realized this. I’ve always wanted to change it, but felt a bit powerless. The recent advancements in communication and social media allow us to promote our message of positivity now instead of only the messages we are fed.

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