Today we’d like to introduce you to Farima Kone Kito.
Hi Farima, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am an immigrant from Burkina Faso, West Africa. I came in the U.S when I was 18 for College. At first, I wasn’t so excited about landing here since I wanted to go to either France or Canada. I had friends in those countries but did not have anyone but my oldest brother here. I had to quickly adapt to the cultural shift and language barrier (my first language is French) but I soon started finding ways to flourish and expand here. I always had a distinct passion for social justice, storytelling and fashion but it is here that I was able to find ways to connect these three things and get acquainted with them. Starting my journey as a communication major, I had the ambition to reclaim control over the narratives assigned to Black folks globally and the West African youth specifically. For you see, I grew up in a world where everything we knew about the other was based on T.V, films and rarely books. The world, growing up, was then projecting an image of me and my environment that had nothing to do with the realities I experienced. I saw the impact that depicting Africa as a Dark continent full of diseases and poverty could do to us as people and decided to actively participate in changing that. This leads me to then pick up a second major (in addition to Communication) in African American & African studies. My hope then was to learn how to communicate/create and share stories the best I could while refining my knowledge of self and those of the African diaspora. Academia, though brutal and unwelcoming of working class folks, allowed me to explore the questions I was profoundly interested in and it is the community of artists and scholars that I amassed throughout the years that shaped the artist, model, writer and scholar I am today.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Oh, absolutely not it wasn’t! I wish it was though. From having to learn a whole new language and culture to making sense of the racial dynamics of the U.S was a battle nobody could have prepared me for. Between the financial hardship and daily micro-aggressions I had no language to name and address, I very quickly felt like I was not welcomed in many spaces. What helped me transition out of a frightened and saddened state was Community. Finding the folks who aligned with my morals and values and who were interested in hearing my thoughts while factoring in my cultural context and interests is what kept me going. Being able to find fellow inquisitive and passionate minds to think and exchange on questions pertaining to gender equity, race, identity and religious freedom is what kept me going. And I would look in every space I entered to find these people. From college to the fashion world. Model or not these are the things that always fueled my drive.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I consider myself to be an interdisciplinary artist who uses storytelling, fashion, and writing as a way to advance social justice and equity in this world. With everything I touch, I aspire to honor the people who came before me and those who have dedicated their lives to fighting oppression. I hold my multiple passions as avenues through which I can explore concepts that matter to me. For instance, I love fashion and as a fashion model, I thoroughly enjoy the fact that clothes can allow us to take self-expression to the next level. However, when I think about fashion I also think of it as a space where resistance to oppression and social commentary happens very frequently. My passion for Academia is also complementary to my artistic approach. Before I am a model or dancer, I am a writer and a forever student. As someone who is always looking for the why behind any given reasoning, studying concepts pertaining to identity, gender dynamics, and identity reconstruction is an integral part of my work that informs my writing and artistic expression.
We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
That I am not French! People in the U.S don’t seem to be aware of the existence of Francophone West Africans and so It always tickles me when I see people trying to make sense of where I am from based on my accent.
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/farimakkito/
1- Shot by Randall Evan 2- Shot by Kunjo Reeves 3- Shot and edited by Farima Kone Kito 4- Shot and edited by Farima Kone Kito 5- Shot by Mai-lei Percorari