“The future is female.” “Grl Power.” “Get your hustle on.” “Fight the patriarchy.” “I met God She’s Black.” These slogans have found their way on to t-shirts, mugs, makeup bags, and many other fashionable items that are featured in the sponsored content that flood our feeds on a daily basis.
People purchase them happily, proud to sport how woke they are publicly but they seem to spend more time preening for social media than acknowledging the uncomfortable fact that many of the items they’re consuming to express their Blackness, womanhood, or (creepily coveted) “allyship” are not being produced by the Black people or women that they’re designed to express support for.
It’s completely understandable that we want to express our beliefs in a time of uncertainty. As the host of the Stuff Your Mom Never Told You and Solution Sessions podcasts, educator, and former Planned Parenthood digital strategist Bridget Todd said, “With protest and activism being sort of the hot new thing, I think inevitably we’ll find places where commerce and activism seem to intersect.”
But as Todd concluded, “It’s important when we’re buying all these mugs and hats and shirts etc. that we’re spending our money in the right places and that we’re not just going to give profits to people who aren’t actually helping the resistance or helping a cause.”
Currently there’s a major contradictions between our accessories and our attitude that can be easily fixed with just a little effort.
So how can you share your beliefs and create change? Do your research. Purchase products from people who speak at our schools and volunteer in our communities including some of the ones featured in this post.
Before you buy that “We Should All Be Feminists” mug from a major chain store do a quick Google search to see if you can purchase it from a sister who needs your $20 more than you could imagine.
Large online retailers are always happy to spread the word about the watered down products they’re developing to cash in on the resistance. They’re not as forthcoming about where the proceeds from these items are going and often it’s not until after a large acquisition or public scandal that people question the origins of that “Nasty Woman” tee they just couldn’t be bothered to purchase directly from Planned Parenthood.
Conscious consumerism is hard. It’s inconvenient and it’s time-consuming, but it matters. It’s not enough to rock a random canvas tote that says “Trust Black Women”, we need to be intentional about how we’re empowering them economically.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid corporate greed altogether. If you pay a phone bill, buy a toothbrush, or watch a YouTube video you’re likely financing your own oppression in some way because ‘Merica. But the very least we can do in between throwing shade at Sarah Huckabee Sanders and self care is making sure we’re supporting the people we claim to care about when buying items that aren’t necessities to promote our politics.
Need a coffee mug or saucy tee? Hit up Jasmine Mans. Looking to express your inner politically aware petty show some love to the Black Joy Mixtape. Pick up your next self-care journal from Effies Papers. Stay on trend with a plus-size look from Premme. Jazz up your jean jacket with work from one of the artisans in the Black Pin Maker league.
If you’re going to get that “Reclaiming My Time” pin anyway, why not get it from somewhere that counts?