On one hand, it seems obvious that big corporate brands have been trying to protect themselves and navigate the burgeoning online cancel culture, as they – just recently – started joining campaigns, sometimes amounting to no better than sheer sloganeering – apparently, against some real ills of racism.
But could they be trying to, at the same time, exploit the Black Lives Matter movement for their own, ultimately monetary gains?
Not something anyone should ever put past big brands, at least not lightly; and this question is now being asked by black social media influencers, too.
If anyone should be able to “capitalize” on the movement and its unprecedented exposure, it should be those very influencers, who have been on the same page and working for the same cause for many years, a report suggests.
Black Enterprise has explored whether large corporate brands should also be allowed to have a piece of that cake – based on how sincere their dedication to issues like racial justice and equity and action to change society really has been.
The report offers a fascinating glimpse into how these brands quickly regrouped not only to engage is “performative activism” (in other words “virtue signalling” like suspending advertising on Facebook for a limited amount of time.)
There have been other avenues. Instagram influencer Gloria Atanmo, who specializes in travel, revealed that she (despite – one might add – the travel industry currently being all but dead thanks to the pandemic) started receiving partnership offers from over “a couple of hundred brands” in just one month, during which the Black Lives Matter Movement had been stealing the headlines.
“Diversity” here apparently might mean – “diversifying a portfolio” – or simply scrambling to put a token black influencer in that portfolio.
In any case, Atanmo, who is black and has some 200k followers on Instagram, said she declined.
She is not alone in feeling “conflicted” faced by an opportunity to do what influencers are supposed to do: grow their audience and influence, ultimately in order to make money – versus the skepticism that, as black people, they might feel as turning into mere peons used by corporations seeking to improve their own image.
But some of these influencers, to their credit, are not in any mood to be mincing their words.
“We are not your token Black models so you can get head pats from your white audience. Creating content is a lot of work, and you're reaching out to us after we've gained thousands of followers,” Ayana Lage, who's beat is lifestyle and family, said.
Nevertheless, not everyone is as convinced that these brands' current brand of “activism” is just some skin-deep BS – the way many people suspect it may always have been, applying to everyone.
Black model Munroe Bergdorf first accused L'Oreal of past hypocrisy in an angry tweet in the wake of the George Floyd murder charges – but since, the two parties have made amends. Speaking out had certainly been worth it.
“She has been rehired by the international cosmetics company and given a seat on the diversity and inclusion board to oversee company policies,” Black Enterprise said.