Almost exactly one year ago, Windfall debuted “UMOJA” — a capsule collection celebrating black culture, unity, and cultural exchange. My favorite piece by far was our Kung-Fu Kenny! Hoodie, inspired by my favorite artist Kendrick Lamar.
I think hip-hop is one of the purest, most beautiful forms of art out there. The authenticity, the emotions, the wordplay— it gives you an intimate look into the artist’s experiences and perspective. And with any piece of art, to engage it on the deepest level, you have to empathize and understand the emotions and experiences that inspire it.
One common theme running throughout hip-hop, and through all black voices really, is the idea of overcoming and dealing with racism. Now, I know all the tropes of black issues in America. Blacks fearing law enforcement, white women clutching their bags, racist cops sprinkling crack on suspects. I watched Dave Chappelle religiously growing up. But it always felt like a distant reality, even exaggerated to an extent.
It wasn’t until the reality was forced upon me over the years that I realized the gravity of the situation. Viral videos of racism and police brutality plastered throughout my feeds. The murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Philando Castille, to (unfortunately) only name a few. And then watching the culprits get acquitted one by one. It was infuriating. It angered me, it scared me, and mostly it changed me for good.
I told myself I would create a Windfall collection specifically for these issues. As someone who thoroughly enjoys and consumes black culture, in all good consciousness, I couldn’t, and I didn’t want to, just bask in the fruits of black culture without empathizing with the struggles that fuel it. Without voicing my support, without contributing positively in some way.
It’s been a couple years since I decided to do that. A lot has happened. More people have been murdered, cops were killed in my hometown, my feed continues to be littered with all sorts of criticism, commentary, polarization, vitriol and hate. Oh and Black Panther came out.
I’ve spent a lot of that time in the shadows, withdrawing, battling my own demons and going through my own struggles, — but growing nonetheless. And in that growth, I’ve shifted my focus less on trying to fix a broken system, trying to fix other people, but fix a broken self. Evaluating my own biases, things that I’ve blinded myself to, things that I can improve on. And trying to make a difference with the community around me, with people I can directly affect, and it all starts with me.
The Bible says it pretty well.
Matthew 7:3–5 : Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
I present to you, UJIMA.
UJIMA (Swahili: Collective Work and Responsibility) – to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.