Is there a wrong way to be an activist? Are companies and people of influence doing enough? You’ve probably heard the buzz words “allyship” and “performative activism” plenty of times this past year but what is it really? To be the best ally and activist possible, it’s crucial we have a precise understanding of what these words mean and how we align with the issues we truly care about. Intention is everything.
Performative activism can be defined as: “a form of activism used to increase one’s social capital or personal gain rather than genuine support towards a movement, issues, or causes.”
To put it simply, the intention of being seen as an activist or a “woke” individual is treated as a performance with the goal of receiving a high mark from society — an A+ for being a “good person”. This faulty and problematic motivation is followed with the urge to document every good deed on social media to garner praise with little to no desire for ACTUAL change. For more, check out this informative article from Medium.
Today, we’re calling out corporations, retail brands, influencers, and those who hold power to STOP PERFORMING. JeLisa Marshall, Remake Ambassador and fashion supply chain professional, shares a powerful piece. performative activism
Dear Retail Brands & Fashion Designers, performative activism
If you have not noticed, the world is in disarray. Resources are unevenly split between a climate crisis, COVID pandemic and social revolution. Now is the time to make a difference. On which side of history do you stand?
I am unclear. Your PR statements as of late are neither here nor there. You announce that Black Lives Matter. Well, where? I am still waiting for many of you to follow-up on declarations made way before summer of last year. Oh, but you need not worry. With your track record, I am not holding my breath over here. performative activism
— alex medina (@mrmedina) January 8, 2018
Please do not, for one second, think that issuing a half-hearted apology or posting a black square on social media platforms or rushing to add models with dark complexions to marketing campaigns convinced a conscious human being like me that the pain you consistently inflict upon certain communities will just disappear. performative activism
We do not need your abridged version of diversity, equity and inclusion. Holding optional trainings or discussions with no real action plan is not therapeutic – it is traumatic. We need you to face the reality – accept that inequalities exist in your companies – then call them out, one by one, and carefully yet quickly strategize and execute ways to resolve.
This is the true definition of sustainability, anyway. Right? A regenerative system of balance.
So, the lofty goals you have been setting to clean up your act must include justice for all or it does not count. My generation demands transparency and accountability. You should listen. Millennials currently make up about 23% of the global population.
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Also, bear in mind, while planting a thousand trees may offset carbon emissions it cannot bring back a life – whether an employee, a garment worker or a customer. You should treasure each and every person who helps keep the lights on, especially in these times – making sure your company culture provides a space to feel valued and respected.
Bottom line: do better…or you better expect to lose.
The “woke” folk are watching and investing their dollars and sense accordingly. performative activism
Sincerely, performative activism
A Black Woman in Fashion performative activism
What are some ways you can begin practicing genuine allyship and activism today? It can be as simple as asking a question you’ve been afraid to ask, speaking to someone with a different background or life experience from yours, or self-reflection. Share with us below.
JeLisa “JL” Marshall is a fashion supply chain professional based in Seattle. She believes the industry should be more sustainable and advocates for change as a Remake ambassador. She also offers style consultations, guided by her experience in product development, to help people understand the connection between their wardrobe and environment.
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