Celebrating Black History Month: The Enduring Activism of Hoop Earrings

Celebrating Black History Month: The Enduring Activism of Hoop Earrings

Celebrating Black History Month: The Enduring Activism of Hoop Earrings

[Angela Davis above]

Black History Month is coming to a close and transitioning into Women’s History Month. I think there is an important intersection between these two groups: strong black women disrupting the status quo through activism and style.

I am not a fashion historian but I am old enough to remember images of the Black Civil Rights Movement. My parents immigrated to the US before The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even though my father was a respected doctor in the suburbs of Cleveland, I clearly remember my mother always dressing us up in our Sunday best when we had to go somewhere in public - even just going to school. Why? She saw that Black men & women protested for their civil rights in their Sunday best – and more importantly they were heard and respected. Just like them, I was taught to dress neatly, always be polite, and tell the truth. I’m not sure I excelled in any of those.

Diana Ross
Diana Ross
Nina Simone

I also grew up on the tail end of the women’s rights movement. I remember not being able to differentiate between the women’s rights and the Black is Beauty movement. I lived in a white suburb but throughout my elementary and high school education, I was considered the minority. Fashion magazines told me to express myself in preppy ways, but one of the images I clearly remember from my youth were of Angela Davis and her hoop earrings because I saw her on TV News and in school. And, I also remember images of Diana Ross too – not understanding completely that it was a direct reference to the courageous acts of Angela Davis and Nina Simone. I may not have understood the significance of  hoops but I knew they were women I admired and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to understand how their style emotionally spoke to me.

The big hoop earrings continued to drive fashion in the 1980’s with: Sade & Jennifer Lopez. Hoop earrings grew virally through the intersection of race, activism, and fashion.

“Over time, as this iconic piece of jewelry has morphed and been passed down through generations, it has upheld its symbolism of womanhood, empowerment, culture, and pride.”

- Shaw Ravine Spencer

Originally, I was going to write about the examples of dressing for protest within Black history but I decided to specifically write how activism endures through women choosing to wear hoop earrings. It seems like a small thing but it is the compound effect that makes it powerful (see who wears hoops below).

This is exactly what HUSH HUSH does every day, and I hope you wear and share your message every day too. We can change the world, two hoops at a time.

Other women wearing hoop earrings that are known with one name:


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