One of the things that I always struggle with as someone whose work is autobiographical is how to talk about something when I don’t want to center myself in the conversation. This is never more true than when it comes to talking about Black history, especially during Black history month.

This is not that post - this is about me and my failures as an ally. This is about every time I said I didn't see color, every time I didn't use my privilege to speak up and say something. And since we are being radically honest - every time I fetishized a Black man or women. It's about being a student of history and not educating myself on the history that's going on around me. 

I was blessed with a very liberal education in the San Francisco unified school district, which included learning about Che Guevara in the third grade, and memorizing all of the bloody incursions perpetuated by the CIA during the cold war in honor of protecting capitalism in South America. United Fruit Co. is the devil. But when I look back at my own incredibly liberal education, I am struck by the fact that there was such a narrow scope on the contributions of Black society. Everyone knows Rosa parks but how is it that not everyone learns about Madame CJ Walker - the first female millionaire who is also a Black woman?

How is it I know about all the ways that the British were horrible to the Americans before their revolution (it mostly had to do with taxes) but not be able to list all of the significant inventions our society now has because of black men and women? I should’ve noticed - did in fact notice the lack of Jewish people in history and their roles as anything but victims of genocide and abuse (Spanish Inquisition, pogroms in Europe, Holocaust) During my freshmen year in college I was introduced to a term called lachrymose- it means sad basically. Lachrymose history is all about victimization. And while it’s absolutely essential - at the core of my father’s work as a Holocaust survivor - it’s very hard to build an identity around being a victim - especially when that’s not only what you are. 

Here is what I see around me right now - we as a culture do not care about violence against Black women. Meg the Stallion was shot, and nobody cared. We don’t care about the institutional slavery that is the prison industrial complex which just slid in and replaced slavery and kept locking up and exploiting Black men and women. In fact, in another history class in college, I learned that Abraham Lincoln ran his campaign in opposition to the twin pillars of Barbery- slavery, and polygamy. He was a major enemy of religious freedom when it came to the Mormon church. And some historians believe he won because of polygamy - nobody cared about slavery - but the idea of a man with two wives was so anti-christian it was abhorrent. 

I say nobody for poetic effect so please don’t come at me trying to tell me why you’re not complicit. It’s a system - we are all as white girls parts of the system. Have you ever had Tylenol? Then you're complicit - it's just one of hundreds of common OTC remedies made by prison slave labor. No wonder it's making us sicker. If you're not a white girl and you're still reading this, just want to say one thing: I believe in reparations deeply - that without them there can be no moving forward. I myself received reparations until my father died, as the child of a Holocaust survivor. It was paid for by a tax on the industries that used the slave labor (my father himself worked on car parts for BMWs while he was in Auschwitz.) Yes, Procter & Gamble can afford it. 

We’ve been inundated with propaganda about police and prison and Black people our whole entire lives. We saw what that kind of systemic mind control can do under the hands of Hitler, but we refuse to acknowledge that we are also complicit in the stories we tell about Black people - both in the media, and the way we teach and write our own history as Americans to our children. We need to do some reparenting of ourselves. We need to teach ourselves the real history, even the parts that make us feel bad because it's about us.  

But wait - I have a solution. It’s not my solution I do not want the credit I am just unequivocally endorsing it. It’s a solution I picked up from listening and seeking out anti-racist resources and curriculum. 

Let Black Women (And Men) Lead 

Hire them in leadership roles and then get out of their way. Let them control everything, let them bring in whoever they want underneath them, give them the power to do what they do without your supervision, guidance, or opinion. Don't make them your emotional caretakers or your mothers, don't burden them with your guilt or your feelings - leave them alone to do the work. Don't ask them to serve up trauma porn so you can try to understand, don't burden them with reeducating you. You have the whole damn internet. Everything you need is out there. Google it. Leave them alone to actually lead. Real leadership, the kind we need right now when things are so tough. 

I am in the uniquely privileged position of not only working with - but working for - Black women. Life is much better here. My photography/creative direction/styling mentor Grace Bukunmi has taught me more in the last two years than I learned in four years of college taught exclusively by men (and with the exception of my favorite professor, who was Iranian and was on some kind of exchange program with the New School and my absolute favorite, and whom Bukunmi definitely reminds me of in her epic and timeless wisdom. She runs teams with a grace that suits her name, pushes the boundaries of technology and imagination, creates entirely new worlds seemingly without effort inside her head, and then makes them actually appear in images that everyone can share and be a part of.  She is actually kind and generous not because she expects it back, she doesn't care at all what other people think, and so it's the purest and most organic form of kindness. 

Choosing to bring in Kim Johansson as my CEO was the best business decision I have ever made. Under her guidance, Astrologiens has grown to four amazing products, and we are working on getting to wholesale. We survived year one of COVID economy and even grew under her elegant leadership. Kim is fluent in many languages, including internet, and in a few months, with only organic traffic, the Astrologiens social community is now a resource for essential self-care (including laughter) for two thousand people!! Kim is brilliant, an actual genius, and anybody who can't see the intelligence glowing out from those striking eyes of hers is a genuine fool. She's an autodidact, an innovator, and throughout she enforces a sense of justice and humor. 

And of course - I kid you not when I say I would’ve given up as an influencer in 2019 if not for the loving, guiding hand of Ivy Coco Maurice. She is a true aesthetic mentor - a master of art, fashion, culinary exploration, and experience. Working for her is a true gift, and one I hope many people get to experience in their life when she’s a major editor at a Magazine (and also hosting her own TV show.) I kid you not my psychic ass dreams about this. Kim will also have her own television show, as will a very reluctant Grace. Ivy is actually the baby of the group but you'd never know it - she is tapped in to the intelligence of her ancestors, she is an old soul, devout and hardworking, and humble. 

I’m not sure that you can convince me that inserting Black men and women into leadership positions is not the solution to all of our problems - we tried it the other way and now we are well and truly fucked. I think it’s time before it’s honestly too late. 

Also, a strong reminder as I wear my rap’s greatest “rock tee” - the most authentic I own. Once more for the back - you cannot appreciate the culture if you don’t protect and support the people.