Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history over the month of February. 

"Black history month is a very special month for me as it highlights the contributions my ancestors and those that have come before me have made. It is a month to remind those that look like me that despite the negativity around us, we are inventors, we are innovators, we are scholars, we are leaders, we are trend setters, we are trail blazers, we are royalty." -Maurice Scott

Maurice Scott

 

In honor of Black History Month, we worked with Kizmet Wallace, a black small business owner & designer, and Team JL ambassador, Maurice Scott, to design this year's Black History Month Collection. Kizmet describes her inspiration for the design of this collection below.

"My designs are influenced by the uniqueness of African prints/patterns, Panamanian Mola art and the four elements (fire, water, air and earth). Within my design I've also utilized the Adinkra symbol, Nkyinkyim- it stands for initiative, versatility and dynamism. The perfect example of this powerful symbol would be Maurice Scott Jr., a young black boy from Philly who rowed his way into a space unfamiliar to him and his peers. With his determination, strength, great support and his vision to be the best to ever do it! Black youth seeing someone with melanin conquering a water sport, that is predominately white will greatly inspire them to confidently march spaces we aren't represented in. We can do anything we put our minds to and we can succeed at any and everything. We are powerful and creative as the air, dependable and loyal as the earth, charming and refreshing as the water and we are passionate and inspirational as fire." -Kizmet Wallace

Kizmet recalls her creative side beginning at a young age. As a toddler, she would put together her own outfits, including matching accessories. She began sketching clothing designs in elementary school, took art classes in middle school, and graduated from a specialized art high school. Kizmet loves to challenge herself by practicing many different forms of art. 

Kizmet Wallace

 

Kizmet's connection to the rowing world is through her cousin Maurice, a Team JL ambassador. When thinking about this year's Black History Month designs, Maurice knew Kizmet would be perfect to fit. "I chose Kizmet because I know her creative mind is out of this world and her hands are extremely gifted with creating some amazing pieces whether its on a canvas, straight on clothing, or on a computer. A good amount of her work revolves around Africa and African American culture which I wanted to capture for this Black History Month Special edition apparel," said Maurice.

Both Kizmet and Maurice understand that the youth are watching, and they hope to inspire them. "Let’s inspire them to confidently take the initiative to invade the spaces they would like to see someone who looks like them in. We can do anything we put our minds to and we can succeed at any and everything. We are powerful and creative as the air, dependable and loyal as the earth, charming and refreshing as the water and we are passionate and inspirational as fire," Kizmet said.

Maurice explains the importance of being involved in his 2nd Black History Month Collection: "I want others like me to see that they are also represented in this sport. It isn't just the European henley look. Every culture can be represented in these designs and I hope to inspire others not only from my culture but other cultures around the world to add their taste and 'swag' to the sport's apparel. I am a firm believer that rowing apparel alone can help play a major role in boosting the popularity of this sport. Imagine being a young rower of one of the various cultures around the world and seeing your culture reflected on one of the biggest rowing apparel brands in the world, JL Racing. Not only that, but also seeing someone of your culture rocking that apparel on the big stage, whether it's at the Head of the Charles, Henley, U.S. nationals, or even World Championships. It is very empowering to see and it's one of the best feelings in the world to feel represented. This collection embodies some unique and amazing symbols that represent African American Culture."

We hope that you will join us in celebrating Black History Month 2022 with these unique performance apparel designs and let us promote diversity in our favorite sport! 10% of net sales from this pre-order store will be donated to Kizmet, a black small business owner, to help her maintain her craft. Kizmet is not only a female business owner, she personally creates graphic designs for clients, as well as, paintings that require expensive supplies such as paint, paint brushes, canvasses etc., to keep her business running.

"This year's designs are honestly extravagant. They pop out. They look good. They carry a swagger. And last but not least they capture black culture in every bit of the design which Kizmet fully explained to the exact detail on the pieces." -Maurice

(Open February 1st - February 15th)

If you love Kizmet's designs, and would like to stay in tune with her creative career, be sure to follow her on Instagram, and keep an eye out for her new website and clothing line!

February 07, 2022 — Kristin Foster