International Black Heritage + History Month Is Using Fashion To Tell The Story Of The African Diaspora
Naomi Campbell (Jamaican, English) walks the runway during the Kenneth Ize show as part of Paris … [+] GETTY IMAGES
International Black Heritage + History Month [IBHHM] launched in June 2021, as a carefully curated digital platform taking a stylish approach to social impact. Content and commerce from around the globe are spotlighted, including a Culture section and Fashion Lab. The content platform is an exhibit of ideas, history, and pop culture geared to showcase Black contributions and connect the dots of international Black history and heritage, and key dates Juneteenth and Windrush Day.
Founder and creative visionary of IBHHM, Bruce Reynolds says, “Black people are all over the world, yet many countries do not have a Black History Month. I wanted to change this and bring some unity and education, I also wanted to reinvent and reimagine what social impact can be in terms of communication and engagement. There’s a lot of ‘talk’ about diversity, inclusion, equity, and a new-ish H.R. buzzword ‘belonging’ but what foundation are these being built on?”
Images speak volumes in challenging the usual depiction of Africa and people of the Afro-Diaspora. IBHHM curates select Men’s fashion styles from brands and fashion designers who share heritage from the continent of Africa.
The list of fashion designers who have select styles within the curation includes; Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer from Morocco, Thebe Magugu from South Africa, Kenneth Ize from Nigeria, Atto Tetteh from Ghana, Loza Maléombho from Côte d’Ivoire, U.K. based Uptown Yardie, Amsterdam based Daily Paper and Mimi Plange who is Ghanaian-born and based in New York City.
The IBHHM Fashion Lab is an ever-growing catalogue of styles from designers who have reached the heights of fashion across the diaspora. Looking back at the history of African disposition, these kinds of feats are canonized by African people and the rest of the world alike. Brands of the past that have spoken to African and Black heritage have advocated unity in that way. Cross Colours and Willie Wear have experienced the pressures of corporate America and the lack of a support ecosystem under the guise of the familiar white scope.
“It’s important to honor our different cultures in the present, future and pay homage to the traditional Black History Month in a reimagined way,” says Reynolds. The International Black Heritage + History Month platform includes cultural multimedia exhibitions.
Showcasing films, documentaries, podcasts, music, factual content, and articles, IBHHM is an immersive journey of Black Heritage and the global African descent. Black history and its experiences are scattered and compartmentalized around the globe and exist differently for each region. At the core of International Black Heritage + History Month, the mission is to showcase the roots of African diasporic culture among the unique and various factions of the world.
In response to the historic Black Lives Matter protests and invigoration of Black heritage that has taken place during 2020, IBHHM is a call to honor the past and future with unity and strength of understanding for Black survival. Reynolds has Identified June as the month to be a cultural bridge to commemorate the significance of “Juneteenth” (U.S.A.) and “Windrush Day” (U.K.) both in June as referenced on the organization’s website.
Reynolds states that “a blanket approach to address diversity and inclusion will not work, hence the climate we are in today. The protests around the world sparked by George Floyd showed us that people have had enough with the status quo on multiple levels. We must do things differently, especially if we’re in the social impact, marketing, and media space. ”
Reynolds is from the United Kingdom and identifies with his mixed Jamaican heritage and his African diaspora while exploring its existence. He is adamant in this sense, with heightened sensibility to the narratives that are broken up based on social and regional connotations.
“When it comes to the narratives of Black History, anchoring this in the atrocities of the slave trade, also known as slave trafficking, are major chapters in the book of life. However, there was black history before that period, and we are creating black history every day and the achievements are outstanding and these come from Black Heritage.” Reynolds concludes.