This Is Not a Trend

illustration by Justin Teodoro

My heart has been heavy watching the raging protests in response to the unwarranted death of George Floyd. Systemic racism has been an issue for decades and it isn’t going to magically go away. I wholeheartedly support the peaceful protests happening across the country and across the globe, yet something is troubling me about it all.

I spent a large part of my career in the fashion world, both as a designer and as a trend forecaster. The coronavirus has spurred many trends, such as baking banana bread, nurturing a sourdough starter, and wearing fashionable sweatsuits. As I consume media during this time, I am growing concerned that the current Black Lives Matter movement is being perceived and acted upon by many white people, much the way a trend is embraced. Hear me out on this one…

My social media feeds are overwhelmed with white people posting the same things…copy and paste links on how to donate to black causes, links to black-owned businesses to support, and a pledge to learn about racism, with a plea to forgive them for their missteps as they educate themselves. While that appears to be very altruistic, I question the level of commitment to the cause, as we move along this thing called life, and face our next disaster. be it natural or man-made. Will Black Lives still matter, or will they be onto something new and more of the moment? Yes, I too posted a black box on #blackouttuesday. While some say silence is complicity, I  believe that if we don’t have a unique or helpful perspective to bring to the conversation, then we should pause, mute ourselves, and listen to those who do.

Yet the chatter, in the form of #content, just keeps coming…

Influencers being photographed holding up Black Lives Matter signs in flowing dresses and perfectly tousled hair while protesters march in the background is not the imagery we need right now. Throwing money at the cause and then posting stories about your generosity is helping the movement but not effecting any real change. Allyship is not about seeking out and buying a candle or a new dress from a black designer or reading a novel from a black author purely because of their race. It’s nice to do, but actually a little condescending, considering until last week you hadn’t heard of them or considered expanding your horizons to buy products from people of color. Why do you need to “do the work, and educate yourself” now, when this problem has been raging for decades? And for God’s sake, why do you need to publicize it?

Robin DiAngelo’s book, “White Fragility”, which was published two years ago, is currently number two on the NYTimes bestseller list. If that isn’t an example of something trending, I don’t know what is. Reading a popular book, and following Rachel Cargle on Instagram ( and you should) may help educate you, but it does not automatically issue you a “woke” card.

In showing my support to the Black Lives Matter crusade, I am speaking out against those who are suddenly jumping on the bandwagon and using their platforms in a disingenuous way to be a part of the current movement. There is a big difference between self- righteous virtue signaling, and true allyship. The people at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter protests are not in it for the ‘gram. They are not in it for the short run. They are in it for their lives.

The quest for equality is not a trend. Stop trying to make it one.

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