black lives matter activist deray mckesson on the politics of a hoodie

'When we think about protest again, we think about it as telling the truth in public, and the hoodie is perhaps our most public, truth-telling piece of clothing.'

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May 18 2016, 1:38pm

Image via @iamderay

This Monday, Black Lives Matter activist and John Waters' choice for Baltimore mayor, DeRay McKesson, took the stage at the Museum of Modern Art to dissect the complex interaction between clothes, race, and politics. He was participating in a day-long discussion around 26 different fashion related items— one for every letter of the alphabet. Joining Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, the two discussed the increasingly loaded topic of the hoodie.

READ: MoMA is mounting a fashion exhibition starring hoodies and Dr Martens

Calling the item a piece of "worn resistance" and a "reminder that there is much work to be done to ensure the safety of black bodies," DeRay continued: "What we know is so powerful about the hoodie is that the hoodie — though it cloaks black skin, though it can become a covering — it does not erase the pressure and the power of this question of the black body in America." Later adding, "when we think about protest again, we think about it as telling the truth in public, and the hoodie is perhaps our most public, truth-telling piece of clothing."

During his talk DeRay also asked why the fashion industry hadn't been more vocal in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement by using its platform to engage a wider audience. Questioning the industry's focus on traditionally white bodies he asked, "What does it mean when designers make things that curvaceous black women cannot [wear]? Literally they are not [available] in their sizes. Those are choices people are making that are also making statements about people's worth and value".

Check out the whole talk below.

READ: How hoodies became high fashion's most potent political tool

Credits


Text Wendy Syfret
Image via @iamderay

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