In today’s “yikes” news, Kazakhstan-born couturier Ulyana Sergeenko and Russian editor and entrepreneur Miroslava Duma are in hot water for Sergeenko’s note to Duma using the n-word. On a card, the designer wrote: “To my n—-s in Paris,” which is a reference to Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 2011 song.
The (very valid) outrage directed towards Sergeenko and Duma has been strong, particularly considering the footage Diet Prada posted showing Duma agreeing with an audience member that men shouldn’t be wearing women’s clothing, and people like blogger Bryanboy and transgender model Andreja Pejic shouldn’t be promoted. Duma was quoted as saying, “Honestly I dislike that, because somewhere on TV or in a magazine a little boy could see it. And that boy wouldn’t understand it correctly, wouldn’t react correctly.”
The designer posted an explanation behind the note, which rang a bit false as an apology. “Yes, we call each other the N word sometimes when we want to believe that we are just as cool as these guys who sing it.” Her post continued on to say, “I have certainly learned my lesson and I am grateful for it. There is enough anger in the world out there, please, can we stop it here?” Duma also issued a brief apology via Instagram, saying, “The word is utterly offensive, and I regret promoting it and am very sorry.”
Other fashion industry people were quick to call out Sergeenko and Duma. Naomi Campbell posted on her Instagram story, “This better not be real!” and Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth shared on her story a call to action for white allies. “Am I naive to be shocked?” she posted after highlighting a few recent jaw-dropping examples of poor judgment and blatant racism, particularly Italian cosmetics brand Wycon naming its new black nail polish “30 Thick as a N****”.
“Until you use your privilege to take back their power nothing changes,” Welteroth’s post continued. “The truth is, unfortunately, we live in a world where black outrage isn’t enough to incite meaningful change…particularly in an industry where we are the minority by design. We need YOU…the white clients. The white collaborators. The white colleagues…to say TIME IS UP on racism, too. Until you do your part, our pain, our call-outs, our demands for respect will be dismissed as empty, powerless threats from ‘angry black people.’”