why south african street wear brand s.g.o.d. is starting a black supremacy movement

August 25, 2017
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S.G.O.D. (Styla Gang Original Designs) is a street wear brand established in Soweto, South Africa in 2012. Over the years, the company has developed a distinctive approach to promoting Black engagement through their clothing, combining ideas inspired by cultural nostalgic, current trends, childhood experiences and global influences for eye-catching looks you can’t get anywhere else.

Just ahead of AFROPUNK Brooklyn 2017, we partnered with the fashion pioneers for a new line of co-branded merch featuring bold statements like “Black Supremacy” and “Defend The Culture.”

We spoke to co-founder Mpho Makua about the meaning behind these cord-striking messages in an interview illuminating the importance of investing in community and understanding style as political:

AFROPUNK: Over the years, AFROPUNK has been celebrated for providing a platform for self- expression. But, as S.G.O.D. has demonstrated since its inception, expressing oneself through fashion is about more than just how you look—it is political. Why do you think it is important as a street wear brand to embrace the politics of style, and is this especially important today?

Mpho Makua: Firstly, I would like to say that our hidden history is the foundation of our approach to inform politically (our approach is influenced by our history and our fight is not a physical fight, but a cultural, ideological and linguistic fight, ’til the end of time). For us as a label, we feel it’s our struggle as a brand and as youth of the current generation to re-write the black narrative, and our approach is formally influenced by what people wear on a daily and how we can use style to communicate and inform people across time and space.

Clothes spread a message beyond seminars, meetings, TV & Radio, and encourage interaction from anyone exposed to what you wearing.

As a strategy to communicate beyond social media, we feel like clothes are the new school way of informing anyone i.e. having people share what they are wearing online and the world is exposed to that in just seconds.

In regards to current times, we feel people are more informed as platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp are at our disposal, information travels faster and people are informed faster. There’s no need to go to a library to search for information, everything is at the tip of your fingers.

Having these messages beyond social media platforms enables information to travel beyond real time and into the streets to encourage conversations with everyday people across time and space. I.e. we are creating new platforms to communicate with our people. In most cases, matters like these won’t make it to the daily paper because white supremacy owns those platforms and only what they want to include will make it there. As blacks, we don’t have any platforms to communicate with our people, and as responsible citizens and advocates of transformation, we are giving birth to a new platform to inform and can grow to radio stations and newspapers which could be used to inform our people.

A: One of the boldest examples of your political messaging is “Black Supremacy.” In the age of Charlottesville and a white supremacist president, what does the message of “Black Supremacy” offer as a counterpoint, and what do you say to people who might argue that you are advocating the same, dangerous ideas?

M: Black Supremacy is an economic mindset/system or way of life created by transforming activists to help advance the majority group across socioeconomic issues. The concept of buying black or supporting black businesses is what we call the process of Black Supremacy. We are trying to support the advancement of black businesses to have economic advantage which will have a positive knock on effect on job creation, solving the issue of poverty in black societies.

In regards to white supremacy, it is a system created by a dominant society to oppress the minority group. The problem arises once the minority group strives to be accepted by the dominant group and, in that process, the dominant group looks down on the minority group.

Our way of life as black supremacists is fueled by our knowledge and understanding, that there are no rules for the dominant society to accept black people as a whole, all the rules are there to keep black people marginalized.

Through this understanding, we are inspired to start transforming our surroundings through speaking positively about the results of buying black. I.e. there are more black people in the world than any other race, but black people are the most marginalized, poor, and disadvantaged. How the fuck is that possible???

We are informing the youth to also understand the reality of their economy and start transforming their mindset and preparing them as instruments of change. If we are buying black, what is it that we are buying? We are buying back the land which was taken from us, with white supremacy creating systems that will only enable us to be ahead if we “buy.” We are taking back all that was stolen from us through decision making, not just strikes and marches.

We are buying back our history, our way of life which was stolen, advanced by technological resource created by the dominant society to keep us marginalized. We are buying back platforms which will enable us to communicate as the majority group and keep our people up to date about what needs to be done to help us win as a race, without using ammunition and physical power to devalue the white man.

For those thinking that we are advocating dangerous ideas and not transformation towards a better environment for the human race, then they certainly need to educate themselves about the history of the melanin race.

It’s very impossible to understand or prepare for the future if you don’t know your past. The information is not lost, its hidden, which means it can be found.

A: “Defend Culture” Is another one of your eye-catching messages. What does this mean to you?

M: Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, music, marriage, belief system, how we behave with loved ones and million other things. It is also said to be shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialization. Thus it can be seen as the growth of a group identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group.

It is very important for us as young people and major instruments of transformation, to be informed about elements that contribute in denouncing our way of life.

We need to be aware of systems which were created by white supremacy to enslave and colonize us on a daily. White supremacy uses acculturation to have control and power over us, with this coupled by products and services produced by them and our poor decision making in consuming everything giving to us.

We are going to defend culture by making sustainable choices and decisions that will have a positive knock on effect on process of development within the majority group. We are going to continue our ways of life (beliefs, rituals, morals, values) despite our geography. We going to invest in black owned businesses and help strengthen African economies across the world. We won’t sell out for profits to compromise our culture. We are ready to re-write the black narrative.

A: As a clothing brand, I’m sure you are well aware of the conversations around appropriation. Is defending against appropriation a part of “defending culture”? Why or why not?

M: Yes, defending against appropriation, in particular cultural appropriation, is a big part of “defending culture.” Firstly, the appropriation of culture usually is done in a way that reduces or diminishes the culture.

It reduces elements of the culture which have deep meaning and significance to mere trends and meal tickets for those appropriating the culture.

Furthermore, cultural appropriation usually only benefits the parties appropriating the culture and does nothing for those the culture belongs to and in some cases leaving them in a worse of situation. In order for the culture to thrive for generations, it is important for us to guard against such acts.

A: Can you explain the message behind “debtor”?

M: A Debtor is a person or entity that owes money. I.e. The debtor has a debt or legal obligation to pay an amount to another person or entity. If you borrow R100 000 from Simple Bank (w.s), you are the debtor and the bank is the creditor.White supremacy doesn’t pay us, it lends us that money, because they know they will get it back. White supremacy owns half of the economy and majority of black high, middle or working class people acquire majority of their money from white owned companies that they work for. They take the majority of the money they are paid from working and invest it back to white supremacy, through buying product and services that they consider as a need in their lifestyles—from white owned brands.

In this case, money doesn’t leave the white environment. So we must smile with the system and understand that they have won the first half of this lifetime match.

But we coming through in the second half, guns blazing (mind ready) and buying black to help us reign economically in all industries, to help create a better place for the human race.

If the majority of the working class spends all that money they get from working for white companies, on black owned businesses, black will rein supreme economically. More jobs will be created, industries will develop to service communities efficiently.