I’ve spent the past few weeks flitting between Twitter, Instagram, and every media outlet that is actively discussing the protests that have been going on for weeks. These uprisings have taken on an epic display of global solidarity, with people banding together to demand change — real change, not just corporations signing pledges and politicians gathering steam for re-election by jumping on the BIPOC bandwagon.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain drew attention to the need for social service tools that we, as BIPOC, need to feel safe in our communities — defunding the police and diverting money to initiatives that serve underfunded communities, for example. But we’ve moved beyond those rally cries, the toppling of statues, and the demands for accountability. We’re calling out systemic racism and privilege so that we can have meaningful dialogues not about how we got here, but why we’re (still) here.
We’ve moved beyond those rally cries, the toppling of statues, and the demands for accountability.
The protesters’ voices that are resonating around the world are asking us to reflect not just on ourselves, but on our surroundings, our support systems, and our allyships.
#Blackouttuesday questioned those allyships shortly after we witnessed our favourite brands post black squares in support of BLM. Many of those squares were accompanied by corporate statements that reaffirmed an overdue commitment to diversity and inclusivity and a promise to do better — to be better. And yes, several brands can own that square — but too many posted that square not out of camaraderie, but for the sake of keeping up appearances.
We can’t sleep on the follow-up.
Earlier this month, Brother Vellies Creative Director Aurora James called on retailers to support her 15PercentPledge and dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses (in the US, Black people represent 15% of the population but are woefully underrepresented on store shelves). Uoma Beauty founder Sharon Chuter challenged brands to share the number of Black people employed at the corporate level through her #PullUpOrShutUp initiative. Both women called for brands to put that black square where their mouths are, end the clear disparities, and really support BIPOC — in the boardroom and on shelves. Several brands have stepped up to accept these challenges, but time will test the authenticity and we can’t sleep on the follow-up.
If these past few weeks have taught me anything, it’s that we need to strengthen our allyships so that we can ensure our seat at the table; brands need to take a long, proactive look at ensuring that allyship far beyond bandwagon posts and blanket statements. Then, we can have honest conversations about inclusivity and diversity rather than wonder if our favourite brands deserve to post that black square.
Let every hair flip be fabulous.
original photo by Christina Morillo || manipulation by le snobbery