Also related to the projects you are working on “Black Queer” and I would also add “Young” communities, sounds like not an easy task here in Italy.
No, of course not. There are so many different barriers to cross. There is a lot to get through in the industry because it’s such a difficult thing to do but thankfully I was able to meet the right people after some time. It took a while but it happened and I started friendships. Things did take a while but eventually, they get better after a while. Actually, it wasn’t an easy task. Being an outsider coming here and wanting to be a part of the industry is not easy in general.
How do you deal with this task?
For most of the time that I spent in the industry and the time I spent wanting to be part of the industry, I started to persevere. I guess just pushing and pushing and trying my best not to give up on the dream of wanting to be part of the industry and doing whatever it is possible to make sure that I am a part of it. It’s about persevering on my end and pushing, that’s pretty much what it is and what it was for me.
You are based in Milan; you work in the creative industry, you are a cultural journalist, your production is mainly focused on inclusion and diversity: where do you think both the city and the industry are right now in relation to these issues?
I would say now it’s better than it was 5 years ago. At the same time, it’s not where it should and can be. There has been progress but there can still be a lot to do not just in terms of the fashion industry but in terms of the industries in general, in terms of diversity and inclusion, also in Milan. I still think Milan is very much behind, but it’s getting better, especially with the new generation of people, the second generation of Afro-Italians and just Italians with a different background. They are all pushing to make sure that their voices are heard and that everybody has a say in different industries. There are people with different backgrounds that have talent and the skills to be a part of every industry, whether is fashion, art or whatever. A lot of the times they go unacknowledged, so I think this generation is pushing really hard for it to happen. It’s time and so much has changed already in the last 5 years, because of the new generation but I also believe that they can’t do it all on their own. Everybody has to be a part and that’s where more progress will come from: when everybody acknowledges that they have a part in creating a more inclusive environment and that’s what is missing right now.
As you just mentioned, it is pretty common to consider this generation a real game-changer on these issues but why is that in your opinion? Why is this happening now with this generation?
I think this generation is more aware of what’s going on and braver, they’re not afraid to lose jobs or to speak up. They’re fearless and it’s not only Generation Z but Millennials as well. In general, I think this generation is a bit fed up, because they grew up seeing their parents not being treated in the best way, so they don’t want that for them nor for their children. They simply want to speak up because it will affect them and their children. Not only in Italy, generally speaking, but this generation is also much fiercer and much more able to speak up. Especially thanks to the Internet as well, that has so much power right now. That also plays a big part because there are so many changes that one can make online. The Internet plays a big part in this generation.
Can you tell us a bit more about MQBMBQ?
I started a project a year ago, in June of last year. The project was started during the Black Lives Matter period when all the protests were happening and it was also Pride Month. I noticed that there were fundraisers for Black organizations to help support the people who were protesting and killed during the protests but I didn’t see many fundraisers in support of Black trans. Not only in the US but all over the world [they] were being killed and are being killed at a very high rate. So, I wanted to create a project and originally it started as a fundraiser because I wanted to donate and give back to Black trans organizations during this time since they needed the support and help. It started as a print sale, there were 12 action photographers, some really amazing action photographers that donated their work to us and we raised 12,000 Euros. Half of it went to Black trans organizations in the US and half of it went to a Black trans organization in Jamaica. I just wanted to use it as my way of giving back to the community and show my support. After that, I decided I wanted to continue the project because it went so well. It was an outlet for me to speak about my own experience as a Black queer man in Italy and in general and [it was] also an experience and an outlet to hear from different Black queer people not just from Italy but from all over the world. There are not many representations of Black queer people in the media, there is always one type of Black queer person or two types when there are so many different types of Black queer people, they are Black trans, Black non-binary, Black gay… There are so many different types that fall under the Black queer umbrella. I really wanted to explore identity in that way, through art, literature, movies, there’s a lot of work being done. I’ve done a lot of research and there’s a lot of films by Black queer directors or a lot of photography by Black queer photographers, so I wanted to explore that with this project.
A few words about your collaboration with ANTI-DO-TO?
I am really happy to collaborate with you guys on this, which was such an important project to do. I think it’s small but it’s very important when you think of it. When you think about how you are going to save somebody’s life and how you will help somebody, I think it’s amazing. It’s why I wanted to create this project. For the past two months, we’ve been donating to a lot of organizations, trans organization, Black, gay organization but I really wanted, especially for Pride Month, to give directly back to the people. To give money directly back to Black queer artists who need it. That was really important to achieve with this micro-grant, and I’m really happy to collaborate with you guys on that because I know the brand and it’s a young and fresh brand. From what I’ve seen it looks very promising and I thought I am so happy about it.