Alright so there I was, chillin out maxin relaxin all cool when a sudden urge came over me to leave my organized mess of a room and go bike riding in this majestic city we call San Francisco. I pedaled my happy little self over to Golden Gate Park and after coming to a sound conclusion that these luscious trails must have been where the new Jungle Book movie was filmed, I then road from the green path to the concrete covered street. After surviving a couple near death experiences trying not to get hit by cars, I happened upon the ginormous building amongst the trees known as the De Young Museum. Turns out the Oscar de la Renta exhibit was in town. I dropped about $30 on a ticket even though I only had 45 minutes to view the exhibit before the venue closed.
I walked through the maze of illustrious fabrics displayed on ivory mannequins posed in classic Vogue runway positions with the rest of the fashion gawkers. Gorgeous materials meticulously stitched together draped the route of the exhibit to reflect the cultures that inspired him throughout the world including Spain, Russia and of course the Dominican Republic, where the famed designer was born. The work was truly lovely, and it seemed to keep getting better as I paced myself through each of the themed galleries. When I approached the end of the showcase, remarkable pieces worn by some of today’s most recognizable celebrities adorned a leveled red carpet display. Dresses worn by Taylor Swift and Sarah Jessica Parker to Nicki Minaj and Rihanna were highlighted in this room. All of the pieces were gorgeous and I’d been overall impressed with the entire exhibit during my tour. While further admiring the dresses of my girls RiRi and Ms. Minaj, I looked up to watch the massive video beaming on the wall showing clips of real life footage from when these dresses were actually worn on the red carpet. I watched anxiously to see Rihanna and Nicki strut down the red carpet in the reminiscent scenes.
And then this happened:
Watch Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpmUR48oHqo
So I’m assuming you just watched the video posted above. The first thing I want to ask you is “Uhhhh can you believe that sh*t?” But before I go there, I’ll ask this instead; Would you have noticed the same microaggression if you were touring the museum, acknowledging this lack of visual representation of our meanlaninaire artists of color, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj? Would you have been offended and let down like I was to simply see the dresses they wore displayed on the ivory mannequins in the exhibit instead of highlighted in the video like literally every other dress showcased in the red carpet display? This oversized video played over and over on repeat during the exhibit, even showing our Latina sister Penelope Cruz, but not the ladies I could have more personally identified with as a Nubian Queen type of complexion?
If you would not have noticed this occurrence, why do you think that is? Is it social conditioning that’s trained us to ignore these things? Too caught up in the fashion itself? To really see what’s going on in our realities we must train our 3rd eye to have greater vision than the two on our face.
Dictionary.com defines a microaggression as “a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype.” The stereotype that I would say was being reinforced is this instance is that black people do not belong in this elite space. Some people think that talking about race is what makes one a racists. I argue that the silence and silencing done to people for talking about race is what actually perpetuates prejudice. What happened in this case was a good ol’ fashioned case of silencing. By denying visibility of the black women who equally wore the Oscar de la Renta gowns, the museum silenced the representation of black identities to share the same recognition as their White and fair-complected Spanish peers.
This seemingly inspiring day of creativity quickly turned into an all too familiar day of disappointment by our society.
Looks like the De Young Museum needs to get Hella Woke.
What microaggressions do you see in your community?