James Baldwin once said, "To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage." As a black woman, I couldn't agree more. So after witnessing several racially charged fashion "accidents" take place over the past month, you can imagine how it felt to see that Burberry has followed suit. But this time, it was much different. Instead of wondering how a brand could be so clueless, how it didn't see backlash coming, I wondered if and why it chose this route to garner publicity.

Sending a literal noose down the runway wasn't a mistake. It felt intentional, calculated even — and it was done with the intention of capitalizing off the anger of black people. The black dollar and black Twitter are two of the most powerful things in the world, and instead of relying on creating quality clothing (we can talk about the demise of the fashion industry another day), brands have resorted to demoralizing tactics to generate headlines. 

We see you, and your time is up. 

It's Black History Month, and European brands have made it a point to troll people of color at every given chance during international Fashion Weeks.

Burberry noose hoodie
photo: Getty Images

Common sense would hope that after the backlash of Gucci and Moncler earlier this month, brands would be hyper-sensitive. But instead they've done the opposite, making it their mission to capitalize off black anger and publicly taunt us, our history, and our culture. 

Burberry, under the creative direction of Riccardo Tisci, is the latest to join the ranks of tone-deaf, blatantly racist brands that just don't get it. Or better yet, do they? 

A noose hoodie from the luxury brand was unveiled at London Fashion Week, and at first it seemed to fly under the radar — that was, until model Liz Kennedy spoke out. 

Her caption read as follows:

"Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous nor edgy, and since this show is dedicated to the youth expressing their voice, here I go. Riccardo Tisci and everyone at Burberry it is beyond me how you could let a look resembling a noose hanging from a neck out on the runway. How could anyone overlook this and think it would be okay to do this especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth. The impressionable youth. Not to mention the rising suicide rates world wide. Let’s not forget about the horrifying history of lynching either. 

"There are hundreds of ways to tie a rope and they chose to tie it like a noose completely ignoring the fact that it was hanging around a neck. A massive brand like Burberry who is typically considered commercial and classy should not have overlooked such an obvious resemblance. I left my fitting extremely triggered after seeing this look (even though I did not wear it myself). Feeling as though I was right back where I was when I was going through an experience with suicide in my family. 

"Also to add in they briefly hung one from the ceiling (trying to figure out the knot) and were laughing about it in the dressing room. I had asked to speak to someone about it but the only thing I was told to do was to write a letter. I had a brief conversation with someone but all that it entailed was “it’s fashion. Nobody cares about what’s going on in your personal life so just keep it to yourself” well I’m sorry but this is an issue bigger than myself. 

"The issue is not about me being upset, there is a bigger picture here of what fashion turns a blind eye to or does to gain publicity. A look so ignorantly put together and a situation so poorly handled. I am ashamed to have been apart of the show. #burberry. I did not post this to disrespect the designer or the brand but to simply express an issue I feel very passionate about."

The apology, that came only after Kennedy put them on blast, sounded like the standard publicist-generated statements many brands give that make black people feel like an afterthought.

"I am so deeply sorry for the distress that has been caused as a result of one of the pieces in my show on Sunday," Tisci told Highsnobiety. "While the design was inspired by a nautical theme, I realize that it was insensitive. It was never my intention to upset anyone. It does not reflect my values nor Burberry's and we have removed it from the collection. I will make sure that this does not happen again."

To add insult to injury not just for black people, but people in general, he alleged the noose was part of a "nautical theme."

"Yes, I’ve seen the hoodie that showed at Burberry with the noose around the neck. No, I won’t be discussing it," one Twitter user responded. "I’m not helping to push a viral moment for that brand by expressing outrage. At this point, they are trolling us." 
A quick message to these clothing lines that think they're somehow moving strategically: Black people know exactly what you all are doing. Your repeated attempts to play us like idiots aren't working anymore. 

If Burberry really did care, it would have taken heed to prior events and listened when Kennedy brought the issues to its attention. 

"Gucci: You can't do worse than our black face sweater. Burberry: Hold my beer," jokes this Twitter user. Learning from the mistakes of others is obviously something the brand failed to do entirely.

It became clear almost instantly that this "flub" was done on purpose.

"Burberry saying they're deeply sorry for the distress caused [by thinking it was fashionable to hang a noose thru a hoodie, around a model's neck AFTER multiple people involved raised concerns IN THE MOMENT but the piece was still put out on the runway, is what we've come to," this Twitter user stated.

To make matters even worse, the runway model selection was anything but diverse, but the baby hair was rampant. 

This is yet another common example of how brands capitalize off black bodies and culture without actually hiring and paying black people for modeling and creative services. The things that once made us "ugly" and "ghetto" are now being manipulated left and right. Nooses are being made into jokes while white hairstylists copy black artists and refer to it as "chic."

Tisci, the "beloved" creative director who at this point also considers himself an influencer, continues to taunt us.

He continued posting on Instagram as if nothing was wrong, while celebrities and big names in fashion alike continue to shower him with words of endearment. Talk about being complicit in racism, y'all.

Pandering to us has stopped working, so brands have resorted to capitalizing off our anger. As a black woman and journalist, let me say this one time: This is the last time I will feed into the scams of these designers. 

"Black rage is clearly a marketing strategy. I believe Burberry was very intentional. At some point, we have to respond by withholding support and not saying a word about it online. Also, see my previous tweet about high-end black designers to support. You have options if you want."

In the meantime, don't forget to black. 

photo: Bravo

There are countless black fashion designers out there who are far more deserving of our coins. If European brands can't appreciate the black dollar, we'll take it elsewhere.