How Black Hairstylists and Makeup Artists Really Want to Be Supported Right Now

Curated via Twitter from Allure’s twitter account….

There's a lot to be discussed, but the first step is giving Black creatives an opportunity to contribute within the closed door, decision-making meetings. “Awareness is a start, not a solution,” says makeup artist Delina Medhin, who is calling on beauty companies to share whether or not their C-suites include Black people. "The reason why we see so many culturally inconsiderate posts from brands is because they are guessing at what we want," says Medhin.

She makes it clear that it's not for a lack of talent or professionalism. "This is because so often the need for our art is only valued when providing a service to a Black model, celebrity, or notable face. "The beauty culture in itself is hard to navigate because our beauty is not seen as the standard, so that already starts us off with a huge disadvantage when trying to advocate for Black faces to be seen," says Joy Fennell, makeup artist, Founder & CEO of The Joy in Beauty and Creator of the All Black Everything Summit.

When #BlackoutTuesday challenged social media users to pause regular postings and instead share information and resources that uplift, encourage, and support the black community and black-owned businesses, hairstylist Naeemah Lafond made a contribution on behalf of herself and fellow beauty professionals with what she called a guide to "How Brands and Industry Decision Makers Can Support Black Hair Stylists. " The overwhelming sentiment in the comments was that her 11 points outline was overdue and, more importantly, hopefully heard.

It's been a pretty rough first half of 2020, but this struggle has been on going for both Black creatives and Blacks as whole — but Riley says that this isn't the time to dump centuries of guilt on Black people. "Our colleagues need to not drown us in their tears while we are carrying our burdens," says Riley.

Despite the Bay Area being extremely diverse, Kiyomi says that there are only a small handful of non-black stylists that she knows of who can care for and style curly hair. "We want representation on all platforms — not just the ones that you need a black perspective or a black face for," Lafond wrote.

Just about every other beauty creative we spoke with expressed similar sentiments that the sudden interest in support Black colleagues and friends, can't just be a weeklong social media trend. "There will be a heavy loss amount to pay for this insincerity," says Riley.

To avoid that,  she says brands need to include Black talent at the top, mid, and senior levels throughout the organizations. "I want brands and my freelance colleagues to ask themselves every time they build a team: Did I intentionally create an opportunity for Black people to succeed," says Medhin.

Jacksonville, Florida hair stylist, Pekela Riley further explains what she's historically experienced on her side of the business: "Black stylist are rarely given equal pay, exposure, opportunity, lead positions, art direction roles, consulting roles in portion to their white counterparts of equal or even lesser skill in the beauty industry.

Makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff concurs. "[Brands] need to make sure they are not just culture vultures and actually hire Black people as publicists, account managers, talent bookers, and creatives on not exclusively Black and brown people shoots," says Sheriff.

Riley also notes that Black stylist are often marginalized to texture-specific styling recognition. "Even if a stylist is an amazing colorist, the industry often locks them into a ‘texture’ specialty box, while non-Black artist have free range to specialize in all hair types," says Riley.

Instead, the answer has has been to simply not hire Black people for the job. "We need allies in this fight because no movement has gotten far without real allies," says Fennell.

Oakland, California-based hair colorist, Jessica Kiyomi, agrees: "The amount of non-black hairstylist who refuse to learn how to do black hair even when they live in areas with Black people is disgusting and disheartening," says Kiyomi.

While Fennell says that while it's a type of progress that these conversations are even happening, she adds that it's important to note this is more so about dismantling generations of systems that have been put in place to keep Blacks out of the decision-making process — and that has to change right now. "We need to be seen and heard in all parts of this industry.

However, my access is limited because I am a Black woman. " says Nai’vasha. "What I need right now and beyond from our industry is equality, the same opportunities to be shared amongst the qualified, and fair access," Nai’vasha concludes.

Makeup artist Porsche Cooper recently took to her Instagram feed to express the same frustrations as Lafond and Riley. "The lack of access to coveted opportunities and equal pay by capable Black creatives is a real issue.

In her opinion, while the obligatory urge to support is great she wants it to stretch further. "We are having conversations with the gatekeepers in beauty that we’ve never been able to have before and I really hope this sparks a massive change," says Shorter.

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