So This is What White Savior Complex Looks Like

‘Project Runway’ designer Meg Ferguson went a bridge too far with Haitian Prajjé Oscar Jean-Baptiste and Filipino Kenneth Barlis

“Project Runway” Oklahoma designer Meg Ferguson talks too much. In fact, she takes over conversations; hijacks them, if you will, to make sure you and everyone else in the room, plus that bartender over there, understands where she’s coming from and how compassionate she is.

Remember, she’s Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, Joy Behar, and the center of our universe all rolled into one, down with the people, all people, and down for any anti-racist protest.

Our White Savior.

Prajjé Oscar Jean-Baptiste began fussing over his last-pick model, a white male, as not being representative enough for his Haitian-influenced street style in three not-so-easy pieces. He won the challenge, btw, but not without some drama.

As Jean-Baptiste revealed a layer of his Haitian background, the political turmoil of his native country and the inherent racism suffered by his people, Ferguson tried — in her clumsy, earnest, do-gooder white privileged way — to support him with a profuse avalanche of affirmations, thoughts and prayers.

The usual flaccid activism of our voyeuristic times.

Her word vomit disgusted me and probably a multitude of others like me, minorities on the outside looking in.

She championed/usurped Jean-Baptiste’s narrative, ratcheting it up into a cause-célèbre with her embarrassing, attention-seeking talking points. In the midst of her campaign to be our White Savior, she actually lumped in racism with a lack of plus-sized women in popular culture. Bringing it back to her, a designer who creates fashion for bigger women.

“We can’t be afraid to say the racism word and we can’t be afraid to say whitewashing and appropriation. You design because you grew up not seeing people like you on the runway. I grew up not seeing big women on TV and magazines. It is insulting. Streetwear was originated specifically by Black men. Straight up cultural appropriation and whitewashing.”

  1. It is insulting. But it is not the same.
  2. Streetwear may have come from black men, but you need to let the black man tell his story. Nobody wants to hear from you, Steven Spielberg.

If you can’t see that, maybe you should check your white privilege.

White women do this to me all the time. One of them actually equated my Asianness to her weight struggles growing up.

Hmmm. “Chink Jap Flat Face Slant-Eyed Dog-Eating Cunt Go Back Where You Came From, Baby Killer Ching Chong Chang!” versus “Hey Fatso.”

Yeah, totally the same.

Unfortunately, minorities can’t walk through a magical portal and pass for white all of a sudden. Although, lord knows K-pop candidates certainly try.

White people can lose weight. Even if they can’t, they’re always going to benefit from white privilege, because they’re white. They don’t have to pass for anything.

They just show up at a Nordstrom, for example, and it’s always an immediate, ass-licking, “May we help you, sir/ma’am?”

After Ferguson’s bit of performance art (for the cameras), Jean-Baptiste let the matter go and focused on putting his winning ensemble together — until later, when she started in on another designer, Kenneth Barlis, who is from the Philippines.

Barlis noticed, 16 hours after the fact, that Jean-Baptiste was able to swap models after all, thanks to mentor Christian Siriano’s untimely intervention. (Probably a production decision to amp up the drama. Seems a tad suspicious). So he went to Ferguson to see if she might want to swap, too, since she had the only Asian model.

Instead of politely, pleasantly refusing or agreeing, the way Coral Castillo did for Jean-Baptiste, Ferguson made a huge stink (show) about it, loudly braying that she needed time to consider and brusquely brushing Barlis aside.

Then, after deciding to swap, Ferguson bitched the entire time, like she was doing Barlis a huge favor and why wasn’t he properly worshipping at her altar?

In front of two models, she F-bombed and dismissed him, ordered him to stop talking, and basically did what Jean-Baptiste said she did: she degraded Barlis simply for asking and put him in his place because he had the audacity of offering to keep his white male model if it inconvenienced her.

Barlis never raised his voice to her the entire time. Like every Asian is taught at birth, he tried to make it right, remaining kind, soft-spoken, deferential to a fault.

Ferguson took advantage of Barlis’ mild-mannered response, saw it as a weakness, and ripped him a new asshole, and for what exactly? For politely asking if she wouldn’t mind swapping and it’s okay if she couldn’t do it?

How dare he!

At that point, Jean-Baptiste stepped in — reminded of that morning when Ferguson tried to make his experience as a black Haitian about her — and defended Barlis, outraged for both of them.

Instead of addressing Jean-Baptiste’s “You’re fake as fuck!” (true), she turned tail and went after the easy mark, the Asian…scolding Barlis for not (choking back bile) defending her honor after all she did for him.

White Savior, may I have another?

Maybe Jean-Baptiste was wrong to fuss about getting a white model. Maybe he should’ve made it work; it would’ve looked impactfully ironic.

But what Ferguson did was much worse.

She made the real issue of racism about herself as the White Savior ally, speaking for the black man, and all minorities. Plus, don’t forget her crusade for plus-sized women in the fashion industry.

Instead of doing exactly what she railed against that morning — appropriating the shit out of the minority experience as their White Savior, Ferguson should’ve listened, STFU, gone back to her beige, and worked on redeeming a lackluster debut.

That’s what a real ally would do.

Racism or plus-sized women.

Not the same. Not even close.

Jazz Medium©: Feeling the music, one review at a time.