Kanye West recently took to Twitter and issued a casting call for “multiracial women only” in his Yeezy Season 4 collection at this year’s New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Due to its wording, the request garnered protests, not only online, but also in real life.
Never mind the laughable “reverse racism” belted out by Anglos, a significant part of the backlash came from women of color who chin-checked Mr. West for subscribing to the toxic ideology that dark-skinned women do not meet traditional—or Eurocentric—beauty standards.
One Indigenous woman, presumably from Lakota, arrived at Ye’s casting in quite a timely fashion. Babyscumbag, as she refers to herself in the viral universe, showed up topless and in full protest mode, emphatically calling out Mr. West’s hypocrisy and the fashion industry’s inherent colorism with a giant poster that read: “Multiracial only = Lightskin only. You ain’t slick, Ye.” At the bottom of said poster, Babyscumbag quoted Kanye saying, “We call them mutts,” which the Chicago rapper said of multiracial women in a 2006 Essence interview.
Yeezy Season 4 casting
“they want black features not black girls” pic.twitter.com/0QFJfF4hPK
— Aquamarine? (@ladybreec) September 4, 2016
Soon thereafter, the brazen objector (whose bare torso read, “They want black features, not black girls”) took to Tumblr to further address Mr. West’s problematic implication:
This is an indictment of not just Yeezy but the entire fashion and beauty industry in which there is a racialized hierarchy of beauty which is a ubiquitous symptom of the legacy of colonialism. This is a protest of a pervasive and dangerously toxic Ideology not Individuals. Regardless of whether Yeezy does choose to include darkskinned women in the end, the coded language of the casting call was clear and a part of a broader problem of colorism in the fashion industry.
Beyond Yeezy’s casting there are hundreds of castings for this upcoming NYFW going on where thousands of models are all hoping for a chance to walk down a runaway and for Black girls, the chances of being one of these girls is alarmingly slim and those chances go down depending on the deepness of the color of your skin. This casting call for “Multiracial ONLY” (not MULTIETHNIC which would still be fetishization) asserts that Black can only be beautiful when “MIXED” with another RACE. There is a history of wanting to dilute the Blackness of one’s children because of the longstanding stigmatization of Blackness.
On Wednesday (Sept. 7), prior to the roll out of the Yeezy Season 4 collection, Mr. West addressed the casting call controversy in an interview with Vogue. “How do you word the idea that you want all variations of black?” West posed. “How do you word that exactly?”
Read Babyscumbag’s full letter, here.