Famed fashion designer Virgil Abloh reminded people that he’s a Black man who faces the ugliness of racism daily and being successful does nothing to shield him from that.
He made that point in a lengthy Instagram message after being called cheap for donating $50 to (F)EMPOWER Community Bond Fund. The money is to help those arrested for protesting the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after a white now former police officer knelt on his neck.
Not only is Abloh the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, he’s also founder and CEO of Off-White, a luxury fashion label. So a lot of people said that his $50 donation just didn’t cut it.
“The Miami community ~ I’m crazy inspired For kids in the streets that need a bail funds for George Floyd protests,” wrote Abloh when he announced his donation.
He also addressed some of the looting that’s taken place during the protests since RSVP Gallery in Chicago that sells some of his items were stolen.
“Our own communities, our own shops … this shop was built with blood sweat and tears,” wrote Abloh.
“Virgil Abloh selling socks that’s worth the same as mortgages and said here’s $50 my brother fight the power,” wrote someone on Twitter after seeing the message.
Abloh’s apology came Monday via Instagram, but he first addressed his own experiences with racism.
“Let me start with a few central facts,” he began. “I am a Black man, a dark Black man. Like dark-dark. On an average trip to the grocery store in Chicago I fear I will die … When I apply for a job I fear I won’t get it. It’s my nature to be extra polite, but I’m extra polite because before I open my mouth 9 times outta 10 people judge.”
He continued, “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. Yesterday I spoke about how my stores and stores of 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.”
Abloh then explained that his $50 donation was in solidarity with some of his friends in Miami who created a post and asked people to unite 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,” he explained. “I have donated $20,500 to bail funds and other causes related to this movement,” wrote Abloh.
Many other celebrities, including Drake and Gabrielle Union, donated to bail funds since protests for Floyd began.
Floyd died May 25 after the former officer held his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd was unarmed and didn’t resist arrest.