I Have A Dream Too

lineisy montero

Lineisy Montero in Vogue Spain August 2015

. . .

My thoughts on Martin Luther King Day

. . .

I showed SELMA to my Mum this time last week in St. Lucia.  She was around when Dr Martin Luther King was alive and while watching the closing scenes showing real life footage of black and white people marching together in America I asked what it was like for her in England…

Mum said that people would write ‘No Blacks’ on front doors.  Michael and I looked at each other slowly shaking our heads.  Would our relationship have existed back then? If it had, we both risked not being alive today.

That time was not that long ago.

Fast forward to now and in my own life I haven’t experienced racism in such an upfront way.  The worst?  Maybe when Michael and I were traveling through mid America and I called a small hotel to make a room reservation that night. The guy on the phone said they had plenty of rooms. Twenty minutes later we walked into the hotel and the same guy (I recognized his voice) said they had no rooms available.

Due to the way I speak (and my British accent?), there are mis-conceptions that I’ve experienced.   When I had a 9-5 office job, my boss arranged for my colleague (white) and I to visit the company’s printing plant in mid America.  I later learned from that trip that before meeting us, based on the years of conversations with each of us on the phone, the staff thought I was white and that she was black.   I remember when even my own black peers would say telling comments to my face.   Growing up they would taunt: “you speak like a white person.”   What an insult to assume that when someone speaks well it couldn’t possibly be coming from your own race.

Lastly, I experienced a telling comment in New Orleans that I have never forgotten.  Michael and I were at an outdoor bbq.  I was the only black person there and stood next to an older white woman who was the sweetest person ever. We chatted for a good twenty minutes. Then she touched my arm: “if I knew that you were going to be here, I would’ve brought my black friend with me!”  Insert deer stuck in headlights expression.  Her words had no malice behind them but it was a reflection of our opposite worlds.

Fashion is an industry built on visuals and I would be blind to not notice the elephant in the room syndrome:  namely the overall lack of women who look like me that front it.   I read somewhere that the only thing that you can guarantee in life is change.  So to quote Dr King, you could say that I have a dream too.  I believe that eventually, even in the fashion word, I will see equality for all women and that those words that Mum saw written on her front door will finally be gone.


  1. Frostoppa says:

    Wow. Beautiful post Karen.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thx Frostoppa. I don’t usually write anything on Martin Luther King Day about that but felt like it this time

  2. Mariel says:

    Hi Karen, I can’t believe that that you’re telling is happening in this century….I can’t stand when I hear o read, “different breeds”…Actually, I read this on a book, last month. The breed is only one: Human. People is people, no matter their skin colour.
    Sometimes people are not aware of who is speaking with, and drop comments like that. It happens to me when someone say: “You know how latinamericans are”…..and I’m southamerican!!!


    • Karen Blanchard says:

      I know right we are all just human beings. Things are changing but it’s taking it’s time.

  3. Lolitta Mylove says:


  4. Francoise Hovivian says:

    Well said, Karen. My first comment, but I had to say something. I’m a “mulato” (mixed race) so this speaks to me tons. Love your taste. Hugs.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thx Françoise

  5. Natasha Bowen says:

    This resonates so much with me. I’m mixed raced and grew up in Cambridge in the late seventies and eighties. My mum’s family (white) disowned her for a couple of years for having a baby with a black man. She brought me up to be proud of who I am. For me, racism has come from both white and black people. I remember in one week I was called a ‘nigger’ by a white girl and ‘half-breed’ by a black boy. I also had people asking me why I speak like a white person and you’re right… it’s sad to think that talking ‘properly’ is seen as a white thing.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thank God you had a Mum that brought you up that way. Good God the comments you experienced are shocking

  6. foodfashionandflow says:

    Great post Karen. I have had similar experiences like the one you mention at the Hotel or meeting people who have hear my voice over the phone and are stunned when they see me in person because they thought I was a different nationality, or when people assume that my assistant is me because surely I would not have a high level position. My mother grew up in Southern Louisiana and was not allowed to drink from the same water fountain as causcasian people when she was a little girl and she had to sit in the back of the bus.


    • Karen Blanchard says:

      oh wow you had the hotel experience too. Yes the surprise at what you do is a surprise to many – still. Wow what an experience your Mum has gone through. It’s incredible that this all happened just a few years ago

    • Mariel says:

      So sad…

  7. Stylista says:

    Awesome post Karen!

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thank you

  8. Lisa says:

    Well put Karen.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thanks Lisa.

  9. Jasmine says:

    Very well written. Representation is a powerful tool, and it is the fashion industry’s duty to show that beauty, creativity and art belong to all cultures and all races.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      well said Jasmine

  10. Daria says:

    you know… i’ve been dreading this for years but i finally had to explain slavery to my daughter. she was learning about MLK in school and just could not wrap her head around the concept of racism. she wanted to know WHY WHY WHY!!!! so i kept stepping back and back in history and finally said “ok, ok… do you know what slavery is??” “no, mommy”, she replied. i was dreading this moment since the moment she was born. every day she is becoming more and more aware that not everything is cupcakes and unicorns, and i have been paranoid that explaining racism would somehow take her innocence. she has friends and family from every corner of the earth and it literally never occurred to her that any of us could be considered unequal. back to my story…. i explain to her, the best i can what slavery is and how this country was built by slaves and how we fought a civil war to stop it, but then have had to keep fighting for civil rights ever since because old habits die hard. she threw her self down on the kitchen floor and started crying hysterically. “WHY WHY WHY WHY????” she asked. it broke my heart. it just sucks to have to teach children about these things.

    • Karen Blanchard says:


Comments are closed.

Recent Videos