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Black History In The Making | Colleen G Lea

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Black History

Black History In The Making | Colleen G Lea

I was recently asked if I would do an Instagram takeover for Janome UK during Black History Month.  Naturally I jumped at the opportunity!

Who doesn’t want to broaden their horizons working with a much loved and trusted brand that shares a love for fashion sewing and fashion design?

One subject they asked I write about, was that of being a ‘black creator’.

I genuinely had to pause for a moment and take stock. After all, what does that even mean?

You see I have never thought of myself as a black maker or black creator. I have lived my life with the concept that I’m just a talented fashion designer and teacher. Race simply never came into the equation!

However, it did get me thinking.

You see throughout my younger years and up until today as I write these words, I have always been placed into a box because my skin is dark. Yes, even today the first thing some people see of me is the colour of my skin.

The woman, the human being, the individual comes secondary and sometimes is never even given a chance.

So who placed me in this box? Who judges and declares me guilty of the crime of being black?

Nobody should preclude, discriminate or have preconceived ideas of another because a skin tone is lighter or darker than others. It’s that simple yet so hard for some to embrace.

We all share the same earth and the same common thread – humanity.

So back to ‘black maker’! Let’s drop these labels that promote difference and instead, share stories of our combined successes, our talent and our one voice world wide.

Can we not put aside the once troublesome, problematic and sad past? Do I still have to carry the burden of being disliked, spat at or looked through because I carry my bones in a skin that may be a different colour to yours?

Let’s celebrate. I have an amazing hair structure that to some is wondrous to the point that strangers stop me in the street and praise me. That’s humanity at work.

Look beyond what’s at the end of your noise and put aside stereotypes. If you don’t, you’ll be blind some pretty amazing things in this fleeting life.

Balance and harmony. Sounds simple but still seems elusive and comes and goes like the wind blowing autumnal leaves along muddy lanes in the fall.

Sadly, so much black history is still hidden from all of us. So much is not even known or recorded. This I believe contributes to our separation and highlights difference.

Instead we are fed propaganda and old stories that only touch on the truth without highlighting the people that made who we are today.

Our history is your history!  Rather than one solitary ‘Black History Month’, shouldn’t we focus on all of us EVERY month, year after year?

Black Creator In The Making – The Future Is Looking Bright 

I have always been a maker! Is there some difference I am unaware of between a non-black maker and black maker. I am, have been, and continue to this day to be a ‘maker’.

Does the darkened skin I wear somehow preclude me from what other makers do? I’ll let you decide!

Rather than be given an identity group due to my darker skin, can we not see each other for who we actually are? Can I not instead be called a talented artistic visionary, content creator and a women on a mission?

I have never hidden from my responsibilities to share my knowledge to the world. I have simply been kept hidden from you through no fault of our own. Only now, does it seem we are all learning the injustices that have been bestowed upon dark skinned humans.

So many, too many sad stories! Once they’re heard together, don’t we all have a duty to look after each other so that we can share the greatness of humanity as one people, celebrated not once a year, but daily without fear of reprisal or discrimination.

It’s now 2020. Surely we can banish into the dark ages tags and labels once used to describe and class our communities. I am a dark skinned female.

I don’t want to be remembered as a black maker even though some will fit me into that box because they subconsciously see the dark skin that covers my flesh.

I want to be remembered as the self taught fashion designer, who learned her trade from the ‘University of Mum’, or Mac’s daughter, you know, the fashion designer one.

I have many more labels and tags. Here are but a few –

The fashion design lecturer that no other lecturer could hold a candle too! Mrs Lea, the teacher that school children did not want to replace. The constant reminders from my YouTube subscribers telling me that I’m an amazing teacher. Dave’s wife, the one who has a YouTube channel and is in talks with the BBC.

I am yet my toughest critic, carrying an already heavy load because I was born with darker skin than some.

There is one thing that I’m sure of as a creative. Our journey is a long one, and few people understand why we do what we do (starving artist and all). For those still constrained by discrimination, (You know who you are!) Get over it and move out of my way!

We must remember that like stitches from a sewing machine, we are all bound together. Whoever sits in front of it can produce amazing things. A sewing machine cares not of labels and tags.

I’m going to continue on my journey, knocking down the walls built in both the fashion and sewing industries and promote inclusivity of size, shape, gender, disability, faith and dark skinned humans.

If you are dark skinned or light skinned human being, it is up to you to continue our story.

My name is Colleen G Lea, and I am a ‘talented maker’.  

Whoever you are, if you have a story tell, please leave it the comments box below.

Colleen

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