Stop Looking for Others to Give You a Platform and Build One for Yourself!

September 18th, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

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So last two weeks ago, I was at the funeral of a very talented and prolific African American fashion designer, Mr. Bill Witherspoon (pictured in the center, who was very well known in the NY Black Fashion circles. His high fashion clothing line for men was an apparent blend of African, Asian, and urban chic influences and could hold its own against any of the other famous clothing brands that you see in high end department stores or on runways during Fashion Week in New York, Paris, or Milan.

I credit him as being one of the few people in the fashion industry who truly believed in me and was willing to give me an opportunity to model his clothing. In fact, I know for a fact from my interactions with him that he was genuinely inspired by my look, and was always more than happy to support me when I started to produce my own shows to promote myself.

He’s also credited with providing opportunities for men of colour in an industry where there aren’t as many opportunities for us as there are for White models.

Truly, as a person who loves to see people dream big and then go and bring that into reality, I felt it was a shame that he never got to achieve the dreams he would share with me. He always talked about bringing his clothing line to places like London or Paris in Europe, but sadly, now that’s never going to happen.

Anyway, so when I was sitting at the funeral today, listening to people speak about him, one woman got up towards the end of the service and shared about how talented it was and how people like him never get the recognition they deserve because “they” don’t give people like us the platform to be heard.

**Record Scratches, music stops**

Wait! Cut! Hold on a minute!

Now, if you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that the “they” means White people.

My face slightly grimaced in pain when I heard this because I heard the same old mentality being replayed again by Black people of: 1) not thinking anything they create is worth anything unless it’s recognized by White people. 2) Black people waiting on other people for the permission to be great.

Now, my non-Black friends reading this, don’t click off this blog just yet, because I’m going to bring back this discussion to relate it to everybody, so hang tight. :-)

So, anyway, why the HELL is it considered to be an issue because he wasn’t recognized by the “mainstream?” Why do Black people have to depend on White people to give them a platform? Why can’t recognition of our own greatness be good enough without putting it through the litmus test of being accepted by White people? Why can’t we build our own platform that takes us to the heights of where we want to go?

To anybody of any colour, race or creed, I believe the key to success is to build your own in whatever endeavour is on your heart as The Viable Alternative to the “mainstream” or status quo and make that your standard of greatness because it’s a reflection of your own uniqueness. This should be done by you giving yourself the permission to do so not by seeking permission from the mainstream. Screw the mainstream. Stop seeking validation from it (or them). See yourself as great because you think you’re great, not because the mainstream validated you.

Also don’t build because you one day hope it would be accepted by the mainstream. Instead, build because you see yourself as just as good as the mainstream.

Believe me, this is the BEST way to drop the f-bomb on the “mainstream..”

This is The Viable Alternative.

Hope this helps,

Ike Love

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