Melanin Rising was founded in 2019 by Naomi Grace: artist, activist and educator. What started out as an "accidental venture" has now become a community that lies on the intersections of art, fashion and social justice. The idea is that by celebrating creatives of the African diaspora, past and present, we can be better rooted in our identities as Black people and nurture our capacity to share our widsom and innovative spirit with the world.
Our first shirt, "read bell hooks" was created with an old tank top, ink jet printer and iron-on transfer paper. At the time, Naomi was developing EUPHONY works, her anti-oppression and anti-racism consultancy. The simple statement was intended to be a conversation starter, to educate folks on the idea that love was a powerful vehicle for social justice, which is precisely what bell hooks writes about. The thought was that if everyone read bell hooks, the world would be a much more conscious and loving place. And if they didn't know who bell hooks was, they were about to find out!
After seeing the shirt on social media, a number of people requested one of their own. After doing a small run of 20 through a community print shop, she expanded to a few more styles, paying tribute to visionaries such as Maya Angelou and John Lewis. It became very clear to her that fashion could be a medium of education and unity. Melanin Rising's concept was born.
Although our products drive our revenue and sustain us, Melanin Rising is about relationship rather than retail. We have made some beautiful connections along our journey and will continue to work to uplift, daylight and celebrate Black creatives who are doing the noble work of showing us the way to our liberation.
We celebrate the work of creatives who are working hard to change the way we view art in our society and to revive Afrocentric ideologies of art being integral to a functioning society. Our intention is to show the world that African-ness exists beyond the white gaze, beyond imposed ideologies of racism and oppression, beyond colonial paradigms. We are because we are. We are here to create, love and thrive.