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In mid-February, a video surfaced online of John Galliano making anti-Semitic remarks toward a couple in a Paris restaurant. By the beginning of March, he was fired as chief designer at Christian Dior and it was recently announced that he was fired from own his label.

While watching his untimely fall from Grace both professionally and in terms of public opinion, it made me wonder: would Galliano have been fired from both of his positions if he made racist remarks about black people?

It’s no secret that the fashion industry lacks diversity. Fashion Week runways barely feature black models, editorials save for the “All-Black” issue of Italian Vogue and occasional spreads featuring models of color barely employ black models and a handful of black designers show their collections during Fashion Week. But on top of a lack of diversity, overt racism has also had a presence in the fashion industry.

In the early half of this decade, there were Internet rumors that Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren stated they did not want black people wearing their clothing. Tommy Hilfiger just put that false rumor to rest only last year but there was no investigation into his remarks when the allegations were made. Black people continued to buy his clothing just like we continue to buy from designers that do not feature models that look like us in their shows and read magazines that do not use models who represent us.

Trade in Tommy Hilfiger’s name with John Galliano’s, fast-forward a couple years and it’s a logical conclusion to draw that the reaction would be the same. If Galliano’s racist remarks against blacks were caught on tape, we can assume he would have been fired eventually but not in the swift manner he was when he practiced Anti-Semitism.

It most likely would have been a long drawn-out effort with a lot of roadblocks from Galliano supporters in the fashion industry and dare I say it, still financial support from many people of color. When Galliano’s video and accusations first gained international attention, it seemed a few calls were made and he had found himself jobless. There was no Jewish equivalent of Al Sharpton making the rounds on national news stations calling for Jewish people to boycott from buying all Christian Dior products until Galliano was removed. Or asking Jewish people across America to join him in a protest to express their anger with Galliano’s remarks. I’m not saying the Jewish people didn’t express their anger; in fact, Natalie Portman, a proud Jewish person, and face of the Miss Dior perfume made a statement saying she would not be associated with Galliano in anyway. However, Galliano was fired and for the most part, chastised by the fashion community, almost immediately and unanimously.

What would you attribute for the difference in the way Galliano and Tommy Hilfiger’s remarks were handled? Would Galliano have been fired if he made racist remarks about black people?

-Portia Obeng

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  • melinda

    Black people do organize on occasion, it is just that it seems to happen outside of North America. I saw a picture on the web of a large gathering of black people outside of a LVMH store after Guerlain made his infamous remarks. Having said that however, I agree that we as black people need to be more organized in our responses to such matters and that we should support black owned businesses and cultural producers. To respond directly to the topic at hand I unfortunately agree with the first poster and others who have stated that had he made derogatory remarks about Blacks he would still have his job.

  • Not a THING would have happened. As a ppl we do not show that our buying power can make or break companies that do not respect us. If we did NOBODY could say the types of things that are said about Jews & still have a job. The Jews put their power BEHIND their $$$$. We just protest & move on, very unfortunate

    • Bronze

      In all seriousness. If Africa were to UNIFY…kick all the foreign gold/diamond/mineral/animal hunting resource steeling diggers out and reclaim all Africa’s wealth and gave it to black Africans…….sheeeeeeeeeet.

      We’d be richer than rich. Instead of everyone saying that they “a fifth Indian of that. and my great-great grandfather was Irish” It would go like this…

      I’m from the Aari Tribe.

      My Great, great, great, great, grandfather built the first boat.

      I own 20 shares of Ivory Coast gold.

      We’d unify our asses of then.

  • naadza

    I agree with the money trail COMMENTS. my father once showed me on a box of SALTINE EVERYDAY crackers the kosher emblem that is on the box he asked me what did i think it was i said i didnt know he educated me on the importance of that little K in that triangle signifying the subtle influence that the jewish community have plain and simple.