You don’t drive the instant a light turns green? Cancelled, by the car behind you who immediately honks and speeds past you flashing a look. You end up standing instead of walking on the left side of an escalator? Cancelled, by the annoyed stranger behind you that asks you to move. People are quick to cancel, even when it’s as small as the above examples. But are we cancelling the wrong things?
It seems like there is a daily exposé of a fashion magazine exercising racism in the workplace. A former Black and queer communications manager at Meredith, called out the magazine publisher for paying him less than his white co-workers during his four years of employment. “My patience for performative allyship is over,” wrote Ashley Alese Edwards, former deputy director of news and politics, on Twitter. “You know what real allyship looks like? Paying your Black employees fairly, having Black women in top leadership positions & addressing the microaggressions your Black employees deal with from management on a daily basis.” Andrea González-Ramírez, former senior news and writer, tweeted her frustration as a woman of color saying she’s seen “others take credit for their work, being mixed up with another [woman of colour] who looks nothing like them.” Michael Love Michael, a former culture editor at Paper magazine, resigned stating, “systemic racism, mistreatment, gaslighting, etc.”
It seems like every story revealed has three more behind it. It’s created another form of the #metoo movement. It’s opened up wounds, a collective trauma that says: this happens. And it happened to me. These experiences and comments were very well known in minority and oppressed communities and are now being brought to the surface. People are angry and disappointed, but to what degree? Should we, and more importantly, will we, hold them accountable?
Magazines have rushed in with blanket corporate statements or senior leaders stepping down, in response to all the allegations, but it is still uncertain what they intend to offer and what they actually can offer their readers to make sure racism doesn’t exist in their organizations. I’d like to think that lasting change will come out of this crisis but I refuse to be that naive. I think brands and magazines rely on the duration of the buzz. Usually people move on quickly from crisis to crisis. I think magazines will bank on consumers getting over their racist behavior, forgetting about such encounters and pray their love of content exceeds their morals.
The question for consumers is, now that you know better, will you do better? Will you stop purchasing the glosses? Or is there a percentage of the story you’re willing to let slide? Do you give the same degree of cancellation to everyone? Or do fashion magazines get away with a warning? Similar to a person wanting to lose weight but often indulging in sweets, people love what they love despite the consequences. Gucci and H&M have done many racist and cultural appropriate things but people still support them. Why? Gucci has luxury status and H&M has value items.
It’s very hard for some people to fully let go of something even if they know it is bad. On the other hand, with more and more people participating in the Black Lives Matter movement, I think there is a great intolerance right now. People will be hard pressed to make impactful statements against racism because some things are truly unforgettable and unforgivable.
When your favorite brands and magazines get called out, who you read and engage in quickly becomes a statement. And like every other consumer, I needed to decide what statement I plan to make. For me, deciding what to read and who to spend my money on was fairly easy. As a women of color, discrimination is unfortunately part of my daily life and I refuse to support anyone and anything that exercises this negative and disrespectful behavior. I can’t advise you to stop consuming content from these offensive magazines but now that it’s out in the open, will you keep reading these magazines or cancel them forever?