Ugonna Ezuma-Igwe | Managing Editor
Since May, many companies, actors and actresses, and publications have been trying to publicly show their support for Black Lives Matter. The problem is they are once again doing what they think is best for Black people not what Black people have asked them to do.
People in these powerful positions have a tendency to listen and let the information go through one ear and out through the other. We say “We want y’all to show your support by demanding Breonna Taylor’s murderers be charged.” They hear “We want y’all to show your support,” and then they proceed to only put a black banner at the top of their website to show their support of Black Lives Matter.
That black banner is not a meaningful way for companies to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter. It shows the lack of thought, understanding and cognizance of the platform these companies have. These companies know they can do more but choose to do performative acts of activism in order to save face.
We don’t want your tacky banners and useless illustrations. We want calls for action, shouts for justice and demands for atonement. Since these companies, actors and actresses, and publications clearly don’t understand how these actions are not what Black people want, I took it upon myself to call them out on their rubbish.
Here are some actions that were truly acts of performative activism:
1. Companies releasing thoughtless illustrations
On May 29, PrettyLittleThing released an illustration showing “support” for Black Lives Matter. Now they knew good and d*mn well when their graphics designers were making this illustration that Black people aren’t actually the shade of black. It should have been a no brainer not to release this illustration but no Pretty Little Thing did the bare minimum and thought we should clap it up for them.
2. Entertainment industry doing God knows what
Actors dropped out of roles no one was thinking about. This seems to be the entertainment industry’s favorite way to show “support” cause the number of times they did this was astronomical. On June 24, Kristen Bell stated she would no longer voice a mixed-race character in Apple’s ‘Central Park’ then on June 27, Mike Henry said he would no longer voice Cleveland on ‘Family Guy’. You’d think the industry would stop there but no they decided to do more and on June 28, Hulu removed an episode of “Golden GIrls’ because they thought the mud masks worn were racist. I don’t know about y’all but last time I checked we wanted the murderers of Breonna Taylor to be charged, the police to be defunded and police to be held accountable for their actions. We didn’t ask for this nor were we thinking about this.
3. Actors doing “Pick me, pick me, I wanna be seen”
This one actually blew me. On May 28, many celebrities went to twitter to show they had “matched” a $50 donation meaning that they wanted the world to see that they had donated $50 to different organizations. Countless celebrities from Ben Schwartz to Steve Carell to Patton Oswalt to Olivia Wilde to Virgil Abloh all went to Twitter to proudly say they matched $50. I just wanna know what these actors thought they were doing for us cause… With the platforms they have it’s clear that $50 was not much for them and it showed the lack of effort that was put into their allyship.
- Posting nothing but a black square
How are companies and publications gonna post a black square and think they’ve done enough. It is not a legitimate act of solidarity when these companies and publications remained silent when they knew their voices would matter. Posting a black square in this manner is nothing more than an empty and performative gesture. These performative acts blocked people from receiving important information from the BLM hashtag because those posting did not understand that they were inhibiting the flow of information, further damaging and trivializing the movement. Then after they posted the black squares these companies had the audacity to go back to being radio silent. These companies must really think their audiences aren’t very bright cause we know this was not what we asked for.
These actions were cute and all but they weren’t what we asked for. We know what we wanted and y’all aren’t doing it. These companies, actors and actresses, and publications need to stop being performative and learn how to be proper allies to the Black Community. If they don’t know how to, I suggest they read the MANY articles that have been published on this topic. It’s not the responsibility of Black people to educate these people as Google is free and has been.
This article should not have to be written as these actions should have never been done. Stop making Black people who are fighting for themselves, their families and friends also have to call out and educate people on how to fight for them.