With October being #BlackHistoryMonth and following the catastrophic events in the USA, the voices and works of black artists and activists everywhere should be celebrated. While this is not an exhaustive list – our features team brings a list of powerful Black creatives you should definitely know about!
Calvin Klein, a brand notoriously known to feature models in their name brand apparel, made a monumental change by featuring Jari Jones, a black transgender model, american actress and activist as a billboard featuring their image looms over New York’s streets in the US.
To celebrate their achievements, a viral video of the actress herself popping a champagne bottle, gleaming with pride as they are featured as part of the #PROUDINMYCALVINS campaign that also features nine other LGBTQ models alongside her.
At a time where Black Lives Matter protests still roar in the cities of the US and where rates of violence against Black trans* people prevails, celebrating a talented, plus-size Black trans* women on a billboard for a brand endorsed heavily by other household names such as the Kardashians, is a big step in the right direction of celebrating the importance of trans* inclusivity and LGBTQ+ representation.
Ally Henny is a black theorist, speaker and writer who holds a B.S. in Psychology from Missouri State University.
Ally is an invigorating speaker who writes on her own blog, ‘The Armchair Commentary’ and speaks about issues pertaining to race, identity, culture and racial reconciliation. Her Facebook page and Twitter posts have garnered a lot of attention, with over 100,000 followers on Facebook and 98,000 likes.
Her unapologetic, unfiltered posts have featured personal accounts of the violence experienced by black people and communities in the US, often providing critical commentary on the actions taken by the US President Donald Trump and providing an honest take on issues such as police brutality against African-American folks in the US.
Roxane Gay is an American Writer, Professor, Guardian (US) columnist and social activist. Her book ‘Bad Feminist’ features a collection of essays with particular commentary and discussion of feminist ideology.
Gay’s essays engage in themes such as gender, sexuality, pop-culture, politics and her own experience as a Black, Queer, Female creative.
Her other works include ‘Ayiti’ – a short story collection written about the Haitian diaspora and the experiences that come with it. Gay’s work has also appeared at the likes of the New York Times Book Review as well as The Guardian (US) where her articles have featured reviews of other Black artists, discussion of sexual violence and racial history.
Gay’s work is raw, honest and captures the difficult to navigate the area of gender politics and feminist thought.
While Stormzy has always been a big name in the UK rap scene and now famous for his hit collabs with other big artists including Ed Sheeran, Linkin Park, Little Mix and other major artists, the rapper who shot to fame in 2015 is known for more than just his chart-topping music.
Since his rise to fame from the release of his single ‘Shut up’, Stormzy has since made a donation of up to £500,000 to the Black Heart Foundation to fund scholarships for disadvantaged students in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
This major funding opportunity provides Black students and individuals with the chance to take part in educational opportunities without the struggle of attaining financial assistance. With this being the first in his lifetime commitment of donating money to Black British causes over the next 10 years.
With some of us knowing him for his tracks such as ‘Big for your Boots’, the UK artist is committed now more than ever to being a philanthropist, pledging his support towards movements that are fighting racial inequality and justice reform in the United Kingdom.
John Adedayo Bamidele Adegboyega, known by his professional name as John Boyega is a British-Nigerian actor and producer, known exclusively for his roles in the Star Wars franchise and ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’.
John Boyega recently made headlines for his role in the Black Lives Matter protests in the UK and for his press statement about his experiences as a Black male in the Star Wars franchise, where he explained his experience with other cast members.
His viral speech from the protests in Hyde Park sparked a discussion on how celebrities and influential figures should be using their platform for political engagement, especially in the wake of a continued history of violence and racial attacks towards Black individuals and their communities.
John Boyega also spoke about his role in Star Wars and the importance of giving black characters a platform – not just marketing off of it and then throwing it to the side.
In the height of Black Lives Matter protests, John Boyega went to the streets of London to show his solidarity – a choice many celebrities should be following.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer who is best known for her novels, both short stories and nonfiction. The novelist was born in Enugu, Nigeria has since become a literary sensation known for her vibrant, lively characters and complex but brilliantly written prose. Her work has been translated into over 30 languages and has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Financial Times and The Guardian.
Her most prominent works include ‘Americanah’, the story of a young Nigerian woman who migrates to the US to pursue higher education. Adichie is an award-winning author and has received awards such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for her book ‘The Purple Hibiscus’ and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for ‘Americanah’.
Her work involves an insight into her experience as a Nigerian woman and engages in the likes of feminist commentary.
Indya Adrianna Moore is an American actor and model, best known for their role as Angel Evangelista in the television series ‘Pose’ (available on Netflix UK). Indya has made headlines by being the first trans*, non-binary person to be featured on the cover of two international Vogue covers, including India and other prominent magazine covers such as Elle and The Cut.
Indya Moore, who uses they/them pronouns has since been featured as part of the Time’s 100 most influential people list in 2019 for their work as a trans’, non-binary activist. Their performance in the series ‘Pose’ has added to their fame and success with their powerful performances and breathtaking looks.
The model and actor use their platform to speak out about important issues such as the violence and destruction against black lives/black trans* lives in the US, making them an influential activist who continues to protests for the protection and inclusivity of black trans* individuals everywhere.