For the last ten days the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent political protests across the US, have dominated the news cycle and social media. In the fashion industry, individuals and brands have responded, mostly in solidarity, but everyone has been called to account.
Virtue signalling and empty responses have been called out. We have been rightfully challenged to use our platforms better. #blackouttuesday was started by the music industry as a seeming show of solidarity for protesters and an anti-racism stand and was taken up by consumer brands, organisations and individuals across the fashion industry.
On Tuesday Instagram became a long trail of black spaces. The fashion brands who broke that and posted out product or business-as-usual content looked at best foolish, at worst ignorant and, let’s face it, racist.
But by the end of the day the ‘solidarity’ of the social media gesture was being questioned. Because anyone can post a black space, anyone can hashtag. What was the reality of action and change behind that statement that took you – and I include myself in this because I posted it too – two seconds to perform? Was it backed up by active anti-racism? If as a white person, a white employee, a white employer, a white manager, a white journalist, a white PR, a white CEO, a white board member, you didn’t feel that question was directed personally at you, you weren’t listening to it properly. The question is what are we in the fashion industry as individuals, companies and brands actively doing to give equity to our black peers? And if we don’t know, we need to change and act now and into the future.
This isn’t a trend.