Column: White celebs rush to amplify Black Lives Matter. The results are mixed to embarrassing
Sarah Paulson is one of the stars who took part in the PSA "I Take Responsibility". (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
White celebrities, influencers, commentators and ordinary people have a longer and very public moment when deer are in the spotlight.
As protests against racism and police brutality continue to increase in every state and around the world, white people with media platforms (including me) are between the scylla of silence and the charybdis of possible exclaiming.
When the video of George Floyd's death beneath the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin sent hundreds of thousands out onto the streets to protest, many celebrities spoke up, some of whom were white. Amid early coverage of these protests, which focused on violence and property damage rather than peaceful demonstrators, many of these supporters were denounced for supporting violence.
As the media shifted focus and made it clear that the protests were extremely peaceful, more entertainment and social media stars began to denounce police brutality and support Black Lives Matter. Those who expressed their support in a call to end the violence, which implied that the demonstrators were responsible for the violence, were often called; Those who said nothing were criticized for their silence.
Last week #BlackoutTuesday became a huge failure when social media influencers and stars redefined "the least I can do" by filling their social media platforms with black boxes. The initiative, aimed at the music industry, was launched by two black music marketers who asked that music platforms such as Spotify, Apple and TikTok shut down for a day to show support for the community, which they found in many different ways Has created respect. When a much larger number of people took part and added #BlackLivesMatter and #BLM to their posts, the flood of black boxes drowned out activists and organizers, many of whom were still actively protesting.
In the fallout, even beloved activist Emma Watson was beaten for participating in what many saw at best as a poorly thought-out effort that ultimately silenced black voices and reports of protests on the front.
Social media influencers, many of whom were young and inexperienced to address issues outside of their personal lives or in a niche they set up, were encouraged to use their platforms to support the protests and Black Lives Matter, and those who this has not been said, if they have not done so they have nothing constructive to say, they should stop saying anything at all. (Causing many to rethink the definition and need of "influencers.")
Late night hosts, who often act as cultural first aiders in times of crisis, were among the first to be caught in these headlights. Apologizing for appearing in black lettering for a Saturday Night Live sketch from 2000, Jimmy Fallon invited NAACP President Derrick Johnson to "The Tonight Show" to discuss the harm it did Caused representations. Jimmy Kimmel took the bull by the horns and addressed the depth of his own white privilege, while Stephen Colbert condemned the violent tactics that many police officers had used during the demonstrations.
But there is no way around the fact that the late night, with the exception of Trevor Noah, is and was a bastion of white.
For this reason, Noah reacted early to the protests: "Think of the discomfort that you have witnessed the looting of this target," Noah said. "Try to imagine what it feels like for black Americans to watch them being looted every day" - and his recent insistence that Joe Biden define "police reform" was so powerful.
More recently, a group of high-profile white women, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow, have given their Instagram accounts for #SharetheMicNow, while another group of white celebrities participated in a video PSA in which they participated every vow to take responsibility for their complicity in the systemic racism of our country.
The results were embarrassingly mixed. The concept of sharing the microphone is okay so far, and it is hoped that supporters of white famous women will become supporters of black, not so famous women. However, this type of reinforcement only works if it is maintained - i.e. H. Black women receive large microphones themselves. As for the video "take responsibility", even in these times of zoom, it is practically impossible to watch it without wincing.
But criticism of the participants or the choice of their glasses is also not helpful. When people like Aaron Paul and Bryce Dallas Howard were asked to join the NAACP for this PSA to get white people who proudly identify themselves as non-racist to recognize their implicit role in a racist society, they should say no ? Bryce Dallas Howard, who publicly awarded The Help, a film in which she starred, for being white-centered and not what she should see now - should she say no?
How can you refuse to be against racism in a PSA?
You can not. As many have suggested since the PSA was broadcast, you might be careful not to impose a "white savior" ethos on your remarks, but you cannot ask for the director's final cut. So you just do the best you can and sit quietly while everyone kills you for it. You listen to the criticism, don't take it personally and do it better next time.
Because there must be a next time. Or a first time. As a white person, you cannot expect emoji hearts and applause if you speak out against a system that you have unintentionally benefited from or not. Yes, you may have to have the courage to do that, but that doesn't make it an inherently courageous act. Speak because it is right and because the survival of this country and your immortal soul depends on it.
The fear of being called or "misunderstood" or viewed as "political" is not a legitimate excuse. Silence because you are afraid to put your foot in your mouth is worse. If you don't know how to talk about racism at this point, it's time to learn, even if it means learning from your mistakes. Yes, you can be judged on Twitter, but the freedom to be judged on Twitter is not a constitutionally guaranteed right. The freedom to be brutalized and / or illegally detained by law enforcement agencies is.
During the # MeToo movement, many men felt very uncomfortable, caught between the legitimate desire to support women and the defensive need to point out that not all men are predators - they wanted horrible people to be punished, but did so also worried that #MeToo would go too far and denounces a swath of behavior that is too broad.
But complaints about discomfort and the claim that they were "a few bad apples" did not come up then and now; Most police officers may not be actively involved in racist abuse, just as most film managers may not actively pursue women in their area. But the culture is supposed to protect the bad apples - in some cases reward the bad apples. So if you are not ready to break down this culture, you are part of the problem.
If you need conversation topics, check out Ava DuVernay's "13th" at. that makes you good and uncomfortable and also damn crazy. Decisions were made, guidelines enforced when most of us weren't looking, which resulted in a situation that most of us didn't support. We have to start looking harder and say more if we only want to refer to the words of people who are better able to articulate the problem and the solutions than we are and say, "What she said. What he said. That's what it takes. " I believe that. I want that, too. "
Years ago, a friend tragically lost her father unexpectedly. We were all very young and many of us had no idea how to help her in this terrible time. Years later, she said to me, "I don't remember anything someone said, but I remember the people who didn't say anything."
It is difficult. We are all self-centered and insecure and limited by our personal experience, and that shows it. But don't be one of those who don't say anything.
If you are or are not a person with a public platform, you must speak up. Thoughtful and not afraid of failure, because the only real failure at this point is silence.
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