Across the U.S., and even in many other countries, protesters have taken the street this week to rally against widespread police brutality, systemic racism, and to call attention towards the insufficient charges brought against not only the killers of George Floyd but also the killers of countless other Black victims of racial injustice. In every city protesters have been met by the local police force, in addition to the national guard, all making use of blunt, violent, and instigative tactics. Social media has also been full of callings for change, spreading knowledge or resources, and pointing out the many hypocrisies within our current system. Some of it, however, is performative. This means that some people, often celebrities, may be posting just to give off the allusion that they care, when in reality it is just empty support. One example is with the Glee star Lea Michele. Earlier in the week she tweeted this:
She was immediately met with backlash from a former co-worker who proved that her intentions could not possibly be genuine when those words did not reflect her actions in reality.
It also seems that Lana Del Ray has spoken out in support of the movement just days after posting one of the most problematic statements I’ve read in awhile that promotes a white-washed version of feminism. News flash: if your feminism isn’t intersectional we don’t want it.
Other examples of performative behavior appears through donations. I have seen some celebrities proudly post their $50 dollar donations to community bail funds, which is not a lot of money at all considering their celebrity status. In fact, I have even seen my own friends, who are 20-something years old and unemployed, donate more money. This kind of demonstration of support is insulting to the #BlackLivesMatter movement because celebrities are the ones with privilege and capital in our society. Yet, in cases like this, they are refusing to use it, even though they say on social media that they are all for equality and justice. #openyourpurse.
So you wrote all this just to justify donating 50 dollars……… open your purse 👛 pic.twitter.com/zqH52QTKr7
— Johnny Boy 🧚🏾♂️✨ (@JohnTheeFame) June 2, 2020
What I find to be the most dangerous, though, is celebrities who have not spoken up at all, or even worse, spreading the wrong message. Most of these people have a gigantic following, making the impression that they leave on the people that are influenced by them noticeable. It is an unfortunate truth, but celebrities set an example for A LOT of people on these kinds of things. So, it is important for celebrities to use their privilege wisely in times like these. They also need to show their activism, and then act on it, because they are the ones with the money to financially support a movement. In addition, celebrities, especially white celebrities, should make it their mission to amplify Black voices at this time, instead of raising their own. Let Black people grieve, vent, scream, and mobilize. It is up to the celebrity to make an effort to elevate their words because celebrities have the audience and the means to do so. And, let’s not forget that while at protests that same advice applies because white celebrities have the privilege of getting out of an arrest situation without serious repercussions, for the most part.
Among them, however are some celebrities who are doing it right. They have taken their actions way beyond social media and are showing their support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement through large donations and in person activism. I will say that this is by no means a celebration of these celebrities or celebrity culture, but rather a recognition of what should and could be done if done right. To be fair, I am also wondering where all those celebrities are who made the entire world cringe when they sang Imagine in March thinking it would cure coronavirus.
Halsey helped treat people at protests who have been injured after being shot at with rubber bullets.
Cole Sprouse was arrested while protesting in Santa Monica. He also bailed out a lot of protesters who were arrested with him.
Ariana Grande has been active in the spread of resources, donated to bail funds, and attended protests in Los Angeles.
Nick Cannon has been protesting in Minneapolis all week wearing a sweatshirt that reads, “Please. I can’t breathe.”
Timothée Chalamet attended protests in Los Angeles, signed positions, and donated to various organizations.
Timothée Chalamet at the protests today in LA via his Instagram stories pic.twitter.com/JW0Z859iz3
— Timothée Chalamet Fans (@TimotheeUpdates) May 31, 2020
J. Cole has been attending #BlackLivesMatter protests since 2014.
J. Cole speaking with the organizer of the protest in Fayetteville, while standing with the people. He really practices what he preaches in his music. pic.twitter.com/XvORFUqr7q
— Team DREAMVILLE (@TeamDreamville) June 1, 2020
Aminé, an American rapper, is protesting and has been actively pointing out injustices.
🧢🧢🧢 students & faculty voted against campus police being armed and now jason washington is dead because you didn’t listen https://t.co/Nyd53AiZ4M
— Aminé (@heyamine) June 1, 2020
Jaylen Brown, a professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics, drove 15 hours to protest in his hometown of Atlanta.
Do not confuse the response of the oppressed with the violence of the oppressor
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) May 31, 2020
Pedro Pascal has repeatedly been attending protests and demonstrating widespread support.
Jane Fonda has been fighting for this cause since the 1960s and is widely known as an ally to the Black Panthers.
John Cusack is known for his progressive ideals and has been attending protests in Chicago.
These were some of the peace officers – who gently tuned up my bike with their batons- pic.twitter.com/atMf8VaV6l
— John Cusack (@johncusack) May 31, 2020
Kendrick Sampson is on instagram showing wounds after being shot at with rubber bullets.
Tinashe has also been vocal through activism and by attending protests.
Demand Justice for George Floyd!!
Governor Walz MUST call in the MN Attorney General to charge all officers involved in the murder of George Floyd. #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/p6WURCsPPm
— TINASHE ³³³ (@Tinashe) June 1, 2020
Justin Timberlake donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund
Please join me in supporting the Minneapolis protestors by donating to the @mnfreedomfund. The freedom fund is combatting the harms of incarceration by paying bail for low income individuals who cannot otherwise afford: https://t.co/tFr8Jh7TUX
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) May 30, 2020
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend made a $200,00 donation spread across 3 organizations.
Americans have the first amendment right to peacefully protest oppression and injustice. Chrissy and I will be donating to these 3 organizations which are organizing, supporting and defending those marching for justice: @Mvmnt4BlkLives @nlgnews @bailproject https://t.co/whxOPQQuTu
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 31, 2020
Ooo they might need more money then. Make it $200,000 https://t.co/axuJnazJkU
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 30, 2020
John Boyega is showing support all the way from the U.K.
For the sake of longevity ❤️ pic.twitter.com/YFsmRWH08D
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) June 1, 2020
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Last week we contributed $200,000 to the @NAACP_LDF. We stand in awe of this organization, their empathy and leadership in, @Sifill_LDF. Their work is essential to the integrity of democracy. If you can donate… go to: https://t.co/S8f4Js6Cgy @VancityReynolds #GeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/4IZM3PwQBJ
— Blake Lively (@blakelively) June 1, 2020
Colin Kaepernick, NFL player and leader in a protest movement against police brutality and racism by kneeling during the national anthem at games, established a legal defense initiative for protesters. He will be providing free legal compensation for Minneapolis “Freedom Fighters.”
In fighting for liberation there‘s always retaliation. We must protect our Freedom Fighters. We started a legal defense initiative to give legal representation to Freedom Fighters in Minneapolis paid for by @yourrightscamp
For representation or to donate https://t.co/q0pzAObCiG
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) May 29, 2020
In solidarity w/ our brothers & sisters in Minneapolis, KYRC + @kaepernick7 established our Legal Defense Initiative to support Freedom Fighters on the ground. If you, or a loved one needs legal assistance, or to donate, go to https://t.co/BQO5g9f5wb #wegotus pic.twitter.com/5g3wn1wXso
— Know Your Rights Camp (@yourrightscamp) May 29, 2020
These are only a handful of the celebrities that have spoken out and make a commitment to justice. They are not special, or needing of praise. In fact, their actions should be the standard. It is a shame, but not surprising, that other celebrities aren’t not taking advantage of their privilege is beneficial and productive ways. It is all of our duty to take care and to take a stand against the hate that is seemingly all around us. Check out our action guide if you want to know how you can demand justice for George Floyd by taking an active part in eradicating racial injustice. Read it, follow it, share it, and encourage your friends/family to do the same.