“My black is beautiful,” a woman says into the camera. “My black is historical.” “My black is powerful.” “My black is universal.”
These statements were part of a video montage produced by the Powerful Movement of Educated Sisters (PMES), a UNM student organization that seeks to “unify and support black women through scholarship and involvement,” according to the group’s brochure.
PMES held its annual fashion show fundraiser “My Black Is…”, a production that tells black history through fashion.
Ife Hampton, the vice president of PMES, said the show is about illustrating the diversity of black culture because the term “black” has a broad meaning.
“It can be anything you want it to be, and we wanted to show it can be a positive thing and being black isn’t just one thing,” she said. “We’re trying to get away from that stereotype.”
“My Black Is…” also featured spoken-word artists, singers, dancers, drummers and musicians.
Hampton said the show highlighted fashion trends from various decades in the twentieth century in honor of Black History Month. UNM students in African Dance I and II performed. Hampton said students were involved in many aspects of the show’s production.
“When we do this fashion show, it gives us the opportunity to work with students who are designers, students who are photographers, students who are make-up artists and hair artists,” she said. “So it kind of gives us a chance to collaborate as a community in some ways that I don’t think a bake sale would.”
One of the clothing labels featured in “My Black Is…” was Cardellicious, a label designed by UNM student Cardell McClam and his business partner Christopher John.
McClam said the business is based in the Bahamas, where he’s from, and that he tries to celebrate curvaceous figures.
“We do our own research with Caribbean women to find out what makes them feel good,” he said.
Hampton said the mission of Cardellicious fits well with the vision of the PMES fashion show. She said the event wanted to showcase models of different sizes, shapes and colors.
“Beauty doesn’t have just one look,” she said. “It’s a very wide spectrum, and that parallel between us is about the different faces of beauty.”
Last year’s show raised about $400, and Hampton said this year the show earned $800. These funds support PMES’s programs, such as the Prom Project, which provides the attire, salon services, limousine, corsages and dinner for two low-income high school students attending a prom each year.
“A lot of the girls in PMES may have had similar experiences, or can relate to these girls,” Hampton said. “It’s easier for them to talk to us about what’s going on than it is to talk to a parent or counselor, so we’re able to give them guidance that they may not get otherwise.”
She said many of the girls are given the opportunity to be models in the show to demonstrate to them that they are beautiful and should feel confident with who they are.
“They can have a day where they’re feeling completely beautiful … where they’re able to show their confidence,” Hampton said.