In a world currently consumed with black trauma (and copious amount of white guilt, in response), black beauty may feel like a luxury we can’t currently afford as the moment demands we keep our eye on what feels like an ever-moving goalpost.
Nevertheless, beauty is not only necessary to black life, but it is a revolution in and of itself: it demands to be seen and dares us to imagine something better than there has been. That’s why, a week after Anna Wintour openly admitted not giving black talents ample platforms and opportunities at Vogue, there’s a subversive joy in seeing the slew of predominantly black models, photographers, designers and more from across the African diaspora who have taken part in the #VogueChallenge.
The challenge originated on social media, as do so many things these days, and has since been endorsed by Vogue itself. The concept? Simple: just reimagine the iconic Vogue cover with yourself or some other black beauty on the cover. The result? There’s honestly too much beauty to post here (though we got permission to post a few of our faves above), but a search for the tag on Instagram or Twitter yields hundreds of gorgeous interpretations—the kind of inspiring content that might almost make you feel sorry for Vogue for overlooking all the untapped talent—until you remember that was a longstanding and deliberate choice. (They gon’ learn, though.)
Some may think it a shallow pursuit in a time of deep crisis, but we’d argue that beauty and rage have never been mutually exclusive. In the fight for equality, the freedom and platforms to imagine, create and be recognized and inspired are worth fighting for, too. With that in mind and without further ado, we happily share our platform with a few of our favorite artists and images from the #VogueChallenge.