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Video | June Sarpong and DeRay McKesson on Race and Inequality in Fashion

It's not enough to just put more black models on magazine covers, says McKesson. Diversity is also good for fashion firms' bottom lines, adds Sarpong.
By
  • BoF Team

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — DeRay Mckesson, an American civil rights activist and a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, and British television personality June Sarpong took to the VOICES stage in December to discuss the matter of racial injustice in the wider world.

“The goal is acceptance, it’s not tolerance. Tolerance at best is one of the pathways to acceptance,” said Mckesson. “These are not new issues, they have always been under the surface but in the age of social media and technology, we’re able to talk about these things in public and [now] people understand that they are not alone in dealing with them and that’s what's new in this moment.”

On the role of the fashion industry, Mckesson said: “It’s not enough for you to just slap 10 more black people on the covers of your magazines or put them in ads.”

With the rise of emerging markets, “there is a new normal” of greater racial diversity that needs to take shape, added Sarpong. “If fashion is going to thrive, and survive, it has to adopt that and adapt to that. Diversity is good for business. This isn’t about what’s politically correct or the right thing to do. It’s also good for your bottom lines.”

Asked about one key action she would take were she a professional working in fashion, Sarpong said she would put a 95 year old woman on the cover of Vogue.

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VOICES is BoF's new annual gathering for big thinkers in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate

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