First, I want to apologize for my white privilege ignorance about racism happing in Denmark. Obviously, I am not totally oblivious to the state of racism and segregation happening in the US, but that it was still something so widely spread in Denmark, I didn’t know – it really just highlight my true white ass privilege and I am sorry. I will do better. We have to do better. In the wake of worldwide marches for Black Lives Matters, many stories have emerged.
One story that really hit me hard, was a post by my friend and photographer Mr Babdellahn (as he is known on IG) – he has taken many pics of me through the last few years – telling his story living with racism in Denmark. The post is in Danish, but he is listing a few of the many things a person of color has to live with every day, like: being called slurs, yelled at and spit on by random passing people; being stopped by the police to show a receipt for his newly bought bike on his way home from the bike shop; always asking for a receipt when grocery shopping, as a “random check” by the security guard on his way out of the store is almost mandatory; or “hyggeracisme” (a Danish word, best describe as when people use racist word against POC in a way they find funny and unproblematic, but is perceived very offensive).
Another story that hit the news this past week was about probably the best-known interior design department stores in Denmark – Illums Bolighus. A Danish singer with origins in Sri Lanka, Brian Siva, posted on his IG about his experience after a visit in the store. He was kickout of the store for no apparent reason, a security guard follows him around the store and tells him to leave out of the blue. A few days later, Brian returns to buy the things he was in the store to buy in the first place, this time the security guard only sees Brian on his way out. Brian is told never to shop in the store again, which is back up by Illums Bolighus’s manager, when he is called to the scene.
Since, Illums Bolighus have acknowledge the incidents and published an apology on their SoMe and as a reply to Brian’s original post on IG. The apology doesn’t say much, other than the welcome everyone and that they will now take action on the matter – which they haven’t commented further on, when people have asked what they will do.
Apparently, this is not a unique story, many have subsequently shared their similar stories via SoMe. The behavior of Illums Bolighus is obviously not acceptable. As I pointed out last week, I would love to see all those Scandi home decor brands we saw declaring their solidary with the #blackouttuesday on IG, to act beyond too. I applaud you for speaking up (and also disappointed with all those brands who have just stayed silence. Many of the same brands gladly declare their support to the LGBTQ+ community around pride, but when it comes to BLM, they stay silent and apolitical), but now you need to follow it up with actions. This is one of those cases where you should put action behind your words – either by pulling your brand from the department store or demand further action from them upon this incident.
In the US Anthropologie was called out for allegedly having a code name for black shoppers, after posting a Maya Angelou quote in splashy colors as a “call for equality”. With no mention of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Angelou’s words could be interpreted more along the lines of “All lives matter”. A story that made headlines after fashion watchdog Diet Prada posted about it.
I am happy to see companies being called out for their bad behavior and lack of actions, something I will follow up on. I have already reached out to multiple Danish brands who declared their solidary with the #blackouttuesday.
I am very concerned and disgusted about what has and still happen in our society today. I have called out brands before on this platform, and thats not going to stop – especially if I can help amplify causes like anti-racism. Give me a heads up if there is anything you would like me to look into regarding this matter.