Off-White founder and Louis Vuitton menswear Artistic Director Virgil Abloh caught some social media backlash a few days ago after posting a screenshot of his $50 donation for “kids in the street that needs bail funds for #GeorgeFloyd protest.”
Twitter and Instagram users were puzzled and outraged by Abloh’s perceived paltry contribution to the cause. Off White socks retail for $45-$90.
Super model Duckie Thot even joined in on the chorus, expressing disappointed with the Off-White founder.
Virgil Abloh responded to the backlash with a heartfelt apology while explaining what racial inequality means to him. He also explained that he donated way more than $50, and that he only posted the screenshot to show he was participating in a donation matching campaign with a group of friends.
He wrote, “Let me start with a few central facts. I am a black man. a dark man. like dark-dark. On an average trip to the grocery store in Chicago I fear I will die. The risk of literal death is the normal walk of life for almost live as if I’m walking on my tip-toes…”
He continues, “When I apply for a job I fear I won’t get it. Its my nature to be extra polite, but I’m extra polite because before I open my mouth 9 times outta 10 people judge. Any interaction with the police could be fatal to me. A split second interaction I could have with them, Off-White sneakers mean nothing… or that I’m head designer of this… or I showed art work at such and such place doesn’t apply in heat of an exchange. ” SIRRR! Come here!!” sends chills down my spine.. 39 years of my life could be reduced in a 1 second radio call to the police: “A tall black man was…”
Read the full apology below:
I also know that this isn’t about race. My parents immigrated from Ghana with zero dollars to their name. I am lucky that they gave me the tools to grow up to have a successful career. I know that black people with fewer resources and less access to the privileges that I have are much more vulnerable than me. I also know that black women, queer, and trans people go through struggles that are additive. As a black person, I have felt anger, sadness, and pain every time one of us is held victim of prejudice of systemic racism. I am proud to stand in solidarity with every movement to eradicate racism and police violence. Racism has to stop. It is literally killing us. I feel sick that George Floyd and generations of black people have been unjustly killed by police. Every police officer involved in their deaths needs to be charged and convicted. UNEQUIVOCALLY. We the people of the world should protest however we see fit.
Next I want to apologize. I apologize that my comments yesterday appeared as if my main concerns are anything other than full solidarity with the movements against police violence, racism, and inequality. I want to update all systems that address our current needs. It has been my personal MO in every realm I touch. Yesterday I spoke about how my stores and stores of my friends were looted. I apologize that it seemed like my concern for those stores outweighed my concern for our right to protest injustice and express our anger and rage in this moment. I also joined a social media chain of friends who were matching $50 donations. I apologize that [it] appeared to some as if that was my only donation to these important causes. As many have said, buildings are brick and mortar and material things can be replaced, people can’t. Black lives matter. In this moment, those other things don’t. People who criticize “looting” often do so as a way to make it seem like our fight against injustice isn’t legitimate. I did not realize the ways my comments accidentally contributed to that narrative. As mentioned yesterday, if looting eases pain and furthers the overall mission, it is within good standing with me. I am fortunate enough to be able to rebuild my stores. And I am seeking out anyone who needs help rebuilding, especially whose livelihoods are suffering due to COVID. The donations I posted last night [were] in solidarity with a group of Miami friends chain-posting about coming together for their local community. I can understand your frustration if you think my contributions were limited to $50. Purely false when it comes to the total. I have donated $20,000 to bail funds and other causes to related to this movement. I will continue to donate and will continue to use my voice to urge my peers to do the same. I was on the fence about publicizing total dollar amounts because I didn’t want to look like I’m glorifying only higher amounts or that I want to be applauded for it. If you know me you know that’s not me. In this case my hesistation led to false assumptions on my personal spending. I encourage everyone to band together to match funds of their own proportion, regardless of what you have. Every dollar counts. It’s not just money that solves, my particular aim is to change opportunities for young kids that look like me to design and ascend to the same position I have : past instances I’m proud of the Louis Vuitton show 2018, where I made black men the center of the theme. Designing football uniforms for refugees in France. A 1-year revitalization of the Boys& Girls club on the westside of Chicago Cred, a project to teach the South Side community the same skills I used to make my career emanating out of a screen printed t-shirt. Some upcoming projects include: items releasing shortly where all proceeds support bail funds for protestors. A platform titled “COMMUNITY SERVICE” launched earlier this year that support emerging black artists & designers with financial support and mentoring. A new art publication that centers the voices and work of black artists and writers. a roundtable of other black leaders in creative industries to open source or ideas for any creative or entrepreneur to run with. I will continue to do the work I have always done. There are many private creative projects and initiatives to give back that I work quietly on and don’t broadcast. Anyone who know me personally can attest to this. It’s not something I publicize all the time because it’s a responsibility for someone in my position and a privilege to do, not a PR thing. Know that I am and have been doing the work, my prior projects are out there. The future projects, I will continue to do. I want people to know that I am participating in this movement, from A-Z. Personally donating, being vocal not silent, addressing how my communities with design and global streetwear can help to end racism. My voice is shaped by every black person who came before me and every person today who is fighting for this on the front lines and in multiple other ways. I systematically want racism erased, and I will do my part to ensure it is. In just one week, we lost George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade to police violence. This has got to stop. Iam an agent of change. When you see me in any space, city, museum, restaurant, on the bench of the Mercer, in Italy at Bar Basso, in Pigalle in the line at Dumbo, in LA on Fairfax or at the end of a runway show in Paris know that I’m carrying the flag to redefine the box that we as black people have been put in. I lead with love and move with respect to everyone I ever met.-Virgil
What do you think?
See the original apology below