Fashion magazine Vogue has sparked a worldwide race row after it ran a trend story on what it labelled ‘slave earrings’.
The article, which has been roundly criticised for being ‘overtly racist’, appeared on the Vogue Italia website and recalled the style of earrings worn by ‘women of colour’ who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade.’
The controversial article went on to refer to the current hooped gold styles as a ‘latest interpretation which is pure freedom’.
The article in full read: ‘Jewelry has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.
‘If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom.
‘Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.’
But since publishing the article, Vogue Italia has faced stinging worldwide criticism, the strongest of which claimed Vogue was guilty of a ‘disgraceful’ attempt to ‘glamorise slavery’.
Angry readers later mounted a campaign where followers could tweet Italian Vogue to register their fury at the feature.
The petition read: ‘Ad agencies are clearly in dire need of consultation by Black Women and Men, as they routinely miss the mark in communicating with consumers.
From the Summer’s Eve to McDonald’s to Vogue, the lack of tact, cultural relevance and basic intelligence is simply appalling.’
Demanding a full apology and the withdrawal of the article from Vogue Italia’s website, it continued: ‘In this latest example by Vogue Magazine, we want the ad removed IMMEDIATELY and we want a specific apology to Black women because Black womens’ supposed slave narratives were used in the promulgation of the ad.
Vogue’s website was also bombarded with angry comments.
Marianne Smith wrote: ‘Are you SERIOUS? I hope that you get truly humiliated for this worldwide vogue. This is disgraceful. You should be ashamed. Since when does an African design for earrings become a “slave” design. This will backfire on you badly and I’m going to make sure that happens.’
Another poster said: ‘Well, there goes my cereal this morning, I had to look at the title of these things about 20 times before I believed what I was actually reading.’
She was supported by a poster called Chezney, who said: ‘There is absolutely nothing fashionable about the history of enslaved Africans.
African women were not ‘brought’ to the US; they were captured, raped, beaten and taken against their will in chains.
I do not interpret these earrings as a message of freedom. This is just another reminder of how companies continue to be insensitive to the history of the Maafa (The African Holocaust).
The anger was not limited to female Vogue followers either.
George Geder wrote: ‘Oh, it’s on now! How dare you conjure up the horrors that my “women of colour” went through during American Slavery! Anna Bassi, you have wronged my people in the name of fashion jewelry.’
Other posters put up the private email address of the Vogue writer Anna Bassi, while another wrote: ‘Are you out of your ever-loving-freakin’-mind?!!!!! What’s wrong with you? Did you forget to take your meds prior to writing this horrific article? In your pea brain, did a little voice tell you this was okay? You must be kidding to think this was going to be an easy ride for you. How dare you pretend to be a fashion writer and not know the horrific history of Black slaves. You should be unemployed and unemployable. This is shameful!’
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