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Black Panther: designer mixes African and American cultures in fusion clothing

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — the movie Black Panther is sparking conversations about representation and inclusion.

“I’m proud of being African, I’m proud of my husband, we’re really a mixture, together, White and Black and we are all human beings,” said fashion designer Marie Snyder.

Marie says the film is inspiring her to spread African culture across South Bend.

Her collection is a huge hit with the city’s African community but she’s hoping more people will explore the culture after watching the newest Marvel film.

Finding traditional African garb in Michiana is nearly impossible unless you know where to look.

“It wasn’t easy, I can tell you that,” said Marie. “Finally I got an idea from God, like ‘Why don’t you go to that Sari Sari place and give them some of your cards so you can give to other people?’”

After living in South Bend for only a few months, Marie had left some designs and contact information at Sari Sari Asian grocery market in Mishawaka.

One year later, her business was booming.

“From that day, just the next day, my goodness, people started calling me like crazy,” she said.

She might not have her own store front but she has made a name for her fashion.

“I’m so happy to see other people look nice in my dress,” she said.

Marie also wants her clothing to make people feel nice.

She says there’s nothing wrong with embracing African pride.

“Sometimes people don’t want to show themselves,” she said. “If they’re African, they bleach their skin, they don’t want to be African, but I want them to be proud of themselves.”

She’s a proud Congolese woman who also happens to be newlyweds with an American man.

“We got married pretty quickly” said Andrew Snyder, Marie’s husband. “We didn’t know where it was going but we knew that it was going someplace good so it was meant to be.”

Just like their now blended family, Marie also blends her work.

“All the time I’m trying to mix fabrics, that means I want the two cultures to be mixed: Black and White, African and American,” she said.

It’s something their seeing in mainstream media today as well.

“The black panther movie is really powerful because it does that,” said Andrew.

So it’s motivating this family to share this culture with everyone in the community.

You can contact Marie by calling (347) 259-9092.

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