Bethann Hardison, co-founder of The Diversity Coalition and an honoree of The Met Winter Party 2017, speaks about celebrating diversity and inclusion.
Bethann Hardison: The more you recognize what I do, or what any of us do, to embrace diversity, recognizes the fact that other people need to know about it. My claim to fame is the Garment District, and I'm very proud to have had that background. I was what they considered the first black in the show room selling, and I became a runway model.
Towards the late eighties I opened my agency. Oftentimes I had to speak to designers about them wanting me to find them a black girl, and then I would ask, "Well, how many models are you using?" And they would say, "Thirty-five." And I would say, "And you want me to find you one black girl?" So it was a constant education of educating people about, "Well, look, c'mon, you see how imbalanced that is?"
Some editor wrote that I was shaming people into embracing diversity. And I said, "If they're not ashamed not to do it, I'm not ashamed to tell them."
I started something called The Black Girls Coalition with Iman. It was all the girls of color that had actually started to work editorially, and it helped to change Condé Nast and the Hearst business. I was just celebrating the girls, that they could make a difference with their celebrity.
Diversity helps to educate one about cultures and reminds you that you're not on this planet alone. You have to get to know others. You learn so much more from someone who's not your background. And I'm so proud of the Metropolitan Museum, because it does that. It attracts your mind and your curiosity. You step out of your zone and go appreciate what someone else is curating for you. It's all education.
Director: Christopher Noey
Producer: Kate Farrell
Editor: Sarah Cowan
Camera: Sarah Cowan, Dia Felix
Lighting: Ned Hallick
Grip: CJ Yurnet
Production Coordinator: Lisa Rifkind
Production Assistant: Kaelan Burkett
Original Music: Austin Fisher
© 2017 The Metropolitan Museum of Art