Bethann Hardison

I was the first person that had been so kind to Iman Abdulmajid. As time went on, and she became successful, signed with an agency, when she had to make big decisions, she wouldn’t always talk to an agent, she’d ask me. I’d give her good advice and she’d be on her way. When I had ideas to do things like the Black Girls Coalition, I would always talk to her, she always loved my ideas. She trusts me.

A friend of mine, Kim Hastreiter, who owns Paper Magazine, she told me, “When you left, it really changed things and you need to do something.” So with the encouragement of others, I stayed around and watched, and I saw that all the girls before, such an enormous group of girls of color, all shades, it began to disappear.

That’s a very privileged attitude and I think the ignorance is so strong there. When people say, “Oh please, I don’t want to hear that conversation,” it’s because it makes them uncomfortable.” But that’s because they think it’s all okay. If it was racist, I would move onto someone whose mind I could change, but it’s mostly ignorance. So when someone says, “Oh, it doesn’t matter,” I not only make designers responsible but casting directors and modeling agencies for not pushing those other girls on to the designers.