• Fri, Jul 12 2013

Shock Fills Me — Dolce & Gabbana Promoted Another Racist Thing To Sell Purses

Dolce & Gabbana racist boutique product

Hey, guys. You know how the fashion industry is pretty behind the times when it comes to being racially inoffensive, despite companies occasionally apologizing for things they should have known better about? Yeah, well, some of those companies refuse to learn their lesson. Namely, Dolce & Gabbana.

Last year, D&G came under fire after sending some ridiculous, racist earrings modeled after blackamoors down the runway. At the time, they defended those earrings like so:

They are everywhere on the creations of Dolce&Gabbana’s SS13 collection that was presented today in Milan, but they have come a long way. Swide tells you the story of these beautiful artefacts. [sic.]

You might have seen them in some villa or restaurant or hotel in Sicily, dominating the table: colourful head-shaped ceramic vases filled with beautiful flowers. But like many things in Italy, they are more than what they seem.

The head is inspired by Moorish features. Moorish is a term used to define many peoples throughout history. Medieval and early modern Europeans applied the name to the Berbers, Arabs, Muslim Iberians and West Africans, although it has to be said that the term ‘Moorish’ has no real ethnological value. In Sicily’s case it defines the conquerors of Sicily. The first Muslim conquest of southern Italy lasted 75 years, from 827 to 902 AD.

Ah, yes. The convenient avoidance of colonialism which, like sexism and homophobia, never really happened if you pretend it didn’t. And now, you guys get to see the table-dominators in action! A Twitter buddy tipped me off to this picture on Dolce & Gabbana’s Facebook displaying several purses and, lo and behold, a blackamoor-type of vase, complete with exaggerated features and some half-dead plant coming from its skull.

While I am admittedly unshocked, I am still so frustrated by the fact that brands still feel it’s appropriate to use items such as these. I wish I could say they will someday learn their lesson, but I figure that by 2015, they will have begun just writing derogatory epithets on their sweaters because ~*edginess.*~

Photo: Facebook

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  • Carmen Figliola

    I don’t think there’s anything offensive in those earrings/vases. “Moorish” is a decorative subject commonly recurring in vintage Italian jewelry and, just like they said, it reminds of an hystorical period. It’s art. If they had painted a “moorish” on a canvas or sculpted it in a bust shape, it wouldn’t had offended anyone, wouldn’t it?, So, why depicting a moorish on a pendant or earring or vase or whatever should be judged to be a racist crime? C’mon.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      No, it would still be offensive then. It’s still a racialized caricature. Just because it’s a traditional decorative subject doesn’t make it immune to criticism, or any less hurtful to people of color – who deserve to be seen as the real, complex people they are, not flat caricatures.

    • Carmen Figliola

      Sorry, I don’t agree. It’s no caricature. You should open your mind and trying not to see racism everywhere.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Yeah, I’m going to take the word of my POC friends over some white-presenting stranger on the internet. I have black friends who are deeply wounded by blackface and “moorish” caricatures, and frankly the opinions of people who are hurt by racism matter more than those of people who benefit from it.

    • Carmen Figliola

      “Benefit”? What makes you think I’m having any benefit from racism? Beware of what you’re writing! You are acting like a racist when you write “some white-presenting stranger on the internet”. And, by the why, your opinion must be your own, not based on what your friends feel. Moreover, I’m pretty sure a lot of black people over there did not be wounded in any way. It’s a matter of how much anyone mind is open. Over and out.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      In the Western world, white people benefit from institutionalized racism. This is a well-documented fact. It’s called privilege, and I really recommend that you read Peggy McIntosh’s primer on white privilege. Here’s a link. http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/ele3600/mcintosh.html Additionally, because of inherently biased social structures, I am NOT racist when I say “some white-presenting stranger on the internet.” Racism is the intersection of prejudice and power. There is no such thing in the Western world as racism against white people because nowhere in the Western world are white people systematically disenfranchised by sociocultural structures.

    • Carmen Figliola

      Please. There was no need to specify I’m white. If you consider your black friends’ feelings, you should consider a white stranger’s ones as well. It’s clear you don’t practise what you preach.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Just read the link. Think seriously about the impact of race that is so easy to ignore because you are white. It took me a long time to recognize my white privilege, but I feel like I am a better person for it. Feminism MUST be intersectional and that means to be a good feminist you have to learn about the way race, class, orientation and gender identity layer with feminist issues.

    • Carmen Figliola

      I’m not denying racism. I’m just saying I can’t see any racism in the fashion pieces you talked about above.

    • lizuka

      «”Moorish” is a decorative subject commonly recurring in vintage Italian
      jewelry and, just like they said, it reminds of an hystorical period.»

      What’s offensive about this is that the historical period in question was a time of oppression, racism and colonialism.
      The subjects depicted were slaves.

      If you don’t see this in these fashion items you should revise your history books.
      I personally wouldn’t want to be associated with this concepts by wearing these items.

    • Carmen Figliola

      Maybe it’s you that have to revise your hystorical books, or simply read with more attention. For Sicilian people, “moorishes” were not slaves, but conquerors, since Sicily was defeated by Arabian people; as written above: “Moorish is a term used to define many peoples throughout history. Medieval and early modern Europeans applied the name to the Berbers, Arabs, Muslim Iberians and West Africans, although it has to be said that the term ‘Moorish’ has no real ethnological value.
      In Sicily’s case it defines the conquerors of Sicily.”
      Dolce & Gabbana are strongly bound to Sicily and its culture. From this point of view, is more than easy to understand their fashion accessories are not born from any racist thought, but are only a tribute to Sicily’s characteristic culture and even to its etnic mash up (that is the contrary of racism).

    • Alyssa

      But in Sicily and many European countries the black moors specifically were originally depicted as demonic conquers, then and saintly allies, then as exotic servants and eventually as slaves. You could say that at one point in European and specifically Sicilian history black moorish peoples were portrayed through artwork in a positive light. However you can also say that at many points in history they were portrayed by the Italians and Europeans as inferior and servile. Just because there were a few points in early medieval history that these figures were respected does not excuse later and earlier uses of moorish statue work. Either way, these figures were caricatured and stereotyped by folklore and artwork leading up to the 20th century where black moorish decor was used simply to create a vintage “Old Europe” feel in homes while ignoring the racial issues going on at the time is Europe and America, which is exactly what D&G are doing right now.

    • Carmen Figliola

      It’s hilarious how you all still insist where it’s clear this is not a case of racism. I’m Italian and I can assure you our culture never had anything against black people, on the contrary bleck people are part of it. You just boring.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Okay, this is patently untrue. My black friends who’ve traveled to Italy have all felt distinctly unwelcome there. They’ve been kicked out of shops and restaurants and harassed in the streets, even though I know them and their behavior is beyond reproach. I’m Italian-American and the most racist members of my family are all from Italy.

    • Carmen Figliola

      What do you mean with this? Stupid people is everywhere and every colour. You can’t generalise, not all of us are the same. And I would you to notice how you keep saying bad things over Italians while taking too seriously a pair of earrings! Very, very, coherent. My compliments.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Ok, let’s go over this again. (A) You have agreed that racism exists. (B) You have just said “You can’t generalise, not all of us are the same,” which means that you have agreed that stereotypes and caricatures are offensive and demeaning. Yet you protest when people say that racial caricatures of black people are offensive. Because you believe (A), you are not protesting the racist aspect, and because you believe (B), you cannot be protesting the caricature aspect, so therefore, the only part left to protest is that the offense is against black people. Congratulations, you’ve gone from just endorsing racist behavior to actually being a racist.

    • Carmen Figliola

      Oh, ok. I tried to be polite but you’re just breaking my balls now. I didn’t say I cant understand the feeling of being demeaned, I just said I can’t see any demeaning behaviour in a piece of jewelry depicting a part of a country’s cultural identity. Blackamoors didn’t were slaves in Italy, but pirates and might CONQUERORS. I’m sure of this since I live in a city which was conquered by Saracens at the time. And, btw, I don’t give a f**k if you think I’m a racist.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      D&G might have Sicilian roots but it is a global brand at this point.

    • Carmen Figliola

      So you think they’re just as stupid as fullingly chose to lose all black potential customers? Ridiculous.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Well, Carmen, here you are, arguing that something with an extensively documented, centuries-long history of being an offensive, dehumanizing racialized caricature is okay, and it’s NOT because you’re a bad person, it’s because you were TAUGHT by the people around you throughout your life that this is okay. When you are white it is easier to shrug off racist behaviors, because they have zero direct impact on you. So I think D&G doesn’t INTEND to drive away nonwhite potential customers, but they’re doing it anyway because, culturally, all the people involved in this shoot were, like you, taught this was okay and never confronted with the truth.

    • Carmen Figliola

      Please, don’t talk about things you don’t know. How could you know about my education? The fact that I’m white doesn’t mean I’m not able to feel empathy for bad behaviour against other people. You keep talking about racism and bla bla bla but keep offending me on the other side. Very coherent!

      I’m just trying to point out that someone posted a link to wikipedia explaining what’s the origin of some black people-inspired pieces of art/jewelry and how even a AA artist chose the motif as an artistic subject since he obvuoisly didn’t feel offended by it. So, I think you’re just doing demagogy.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Did you actually read the article the Wiki article linked to about Fred Wilson? http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/features/n_9014/ He explains that the reason he used those blackamoor sculptures was NOT to celebrate them, but to call attention to the fact that they are dehumanizing and harmful. His entire body of work is about challenging racism by using radical object juxtapositions to make viewers challenge their previous views of said objects.

    • Carmen Figliola

      Yes, but he willfully chose to depict blackamoors as servants to provoke the audience. Anyway, I’m pretty tired to talk about this, it’s obvious we will keep having our own personal point of view and it’s fine like this. Peace and love!

    • lizuka
    • Carmen Figliola

      Indeed. According to Wikipedia, even “Fred Wilson,[3] an African-American sculptor, displayed an installation at the 2003 Venice Biennalethat incorporated blackamoors.[4] Wilson placed wooden blackamoors carrying acetylene torches and fire extinguishers. Wilson noted that such figures are so common in Venice that few people notice them. He said, “They are in hotels everywhere in Venice…which is great, because all of a sudden you see them everywhere. I wanted it to be visible, this whole world which sort of just blew up for me.”[4]”

      So, if an AA artist chose to use blackamoor as a subject without feeling offended, it’s pretty useless to go on trying to explain you why D&G fashion accesories are not unrespectful.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. If a person of color says they find those pieces racist, that means it is racist! It really is that simple. And there are literally tens of thousands of people of color – probably more like millions if you look at the full span of history – writing and speaking about the hurtful nature of blackface, blackamoor and “moorish” caricature images. This is a documented thing. This page is a good starting resource; on the history of blackface before minstrel shows, they also mention the way “moorish” caricatures are/were hurtful. http://black-face.com/

  • another writer

    oh come on…Why does everything have to be racist today? That’s a beautiful vase and in case you’re not knowledgeable in the arts, it’s an artifact (albeit a replica). It’s history, a part of the world’s heritage, regardless of your personal feelings. Try writing something articulate and useful instead of constantly bashing everybody and everything.