We Deserve a Podcast: A series about our favorite reality shows that are definitely absolutely about gender justice so you should feel very fine bingeing them. In fact, you’ll be a better feminist if you do!
We are no doubt living in an historic moment, and it’s important to hold ourselves and our friends accountable for how we’re fighting white supremacy at every level. We have always believed that the media and culture we consume affects us. That’s why we think it’s important to hold up and analyze it–precisely because of the power it holds. If culture is really going to change in any meaningful way, we have to do more than post Instagram stories. This is a moment of reckoning for brands, organizations, and celebrities. So we’re breaking down the celebs and brands who are—and aren’t—getting it right in this very important time. Calling out racism shouldn’t be a hard thing to do, and the media you consume should match your values.
Favorite Unexpected Duo Award Goes To: Cole Sprouse and Cardi B!
Cole Sprouse and Cardi B are two names we never expected to say in the same sentence, but 2020 has reminded us that we know nothing and are mere pawns in this game we call life. But here’s why we want to talk about both of them today: they’re both using their platforms and resources to actually make a difference right now. For Cardi B, that’s not news. She’s been vocal for a while now, using Instagram Lives (and a very funny Twitter account) to break down complex issues.
When it comes to the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests against police brutality, she spoke up early, and she spoke loud. In her Instagram Live, she offered a nuanced take on looting (“As much as people are so against it at this point, I feel like I’m not against it, even though it do scare me and I don’t want anybody to get hurt.”) by placing it in the broader context of years of efforts to peacefully protest police brutality: “I’ve been doing fucking police brutality videos ever since my teeth been fucked up and the only shit that changed has been my fucking teeth.” And that’s precisely why we appreciated her take. Her insight has been informative and consistent — two principles for celebrity activism we can get behind.
That brings us to Cole Sprouse, someone who would not have made our top 10 celebrity activist list before this week. Let’s start out with the obvious: Cole Sprouse, the Suite Life of Zack and Cody (he’s Cody, in case you’re wondering) turned Riverdale star, is pretty much the embodiment of cis white straight dude privilege. But he’s using that privilege. Earlier this week, Sprouse was arrested while at a Black Lives Matter protest in L.A. He then used his Instagram influence to turn the spotlight back onto the injustices at hand, writing: “…before the voracious horde of media sensationalism decides to somehow turn it about me, there’s a clear need to speak about the circumstances: Black Lives Matter. Peace, riots, looting, are an absolutely legitimate form of protest. the media is by nature only going to show the most sensational, which only proves a long-standing racist agenda.”
It appears Sprouse used his immense privilege to one, attend a protest and get arrested, hopefully taking the place of someone less privileged than himself, and then two, use the attention from said arrest to bring more awareness to the cause. We don’t know about you, but we think that’s pretty suite.
Fitness Cults, How ~Fit~ to Be Anti-Racist Are You?
So here’s the deal with fitness groups like SoulCycle, Peloton, CycleBar, and the like: they’re not media (our usual beat), but they have a really big impact on media. First, they have huge platforms on Instagram and other social media platforms. And second, because they often wade into body image territory (telling us which bodies are and are not “good”), they also contribute to the representations we see and expect to see in media. That’s why we’ve been following their responses to the current protests. And we’ve seen a whole range of reactions, from horrifyingly silent to “wow, okay, did they really just show up like that?!”
On the good end, there’s 305 fitness, which has acknowledged that the fitness industry is, by and large, pretty racist. Here’s a recent quote from their Instagram: “One of the actions we are taking: consciously elevating the images of those that are heard and seen less often. If images of ‘fitness’ and ‘wellness’ have been reserved for the white, affluent, and thin, we want to work on showing ALL bodies and ALL kinds of beauty. This is one small action, but we know representation matters.” That’s one of the reasons we appreciate their comments so far: they acknowledge they’re part of an industry with a legacy of racism and are calling it out and actively working to change it.
Like Cardi B, they’re also not new to speaking out. Just last month, on a workout hosted by the company’s founder, Sadie Kurzban, she talked about the frustrations of being denied a small business loan during the COVID-19 crisis, but also how Black-owned businesses were being disproportionately denied assistance.
Fitness giant Peloton (yes, the ones with that commercial) also showed solidarity early on. Peloton broke the mold in the fitness industry in so many ways, including with the diversity of their instructing team. Peloton instructors are celebrities in their own right with millions of followers and gigs on Good Morning America and other major outlets. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, they have taken sharing on social media to the next level by canceling live classes for #BlackoutTuesday and holding solidarity classes this week. It’s no accident that one of the fitness cults with the most diverse forward-facing employees was quick to call out racism and do it in the right way.
Other fitness brands…not so much. Barre3, known for its calmer, yoga-style classes and focus on gratitude, spent the weekend posting vague posts about kindness and light before finally participating in #BlackoutTuesday. Individual instructors and studio owners took their advocacy further on their personal social media accounts and most franchises canceled their live classes for #BlackoutTuesday. For a major company with a huge following, their Black followers look to see when they are vocal and what they are committed to actually doing outside of social media posts. Edit: on June 3rd, Barre3 is donating 100% of the proceeds from their online retail shop to Black Lives Matter for 24 hours.
HALL OF FAME FOR HALL OF SHAME
Another aspect of pop culture is the ever-present world of podcasts — a world we believe we clearly believe deserve to be a part of. You can find a podcast on basically any topic ranging from in-depth news stories to podcasts breaking down every episode of The Office. The podcast Hall of Shame highlights dramatic sports stories throughout history, some well-known, some not as much, and honestly, we would not have guessed them to be a role model for the ways podcasters can take action that isn’t performative. Both hosts, Rachel and Rachna, bring a fun take to sports stories that is a breath of fresh air from traditional, bro sports podcasts. They shared a quick “mini-sode” that listed resources and places to give to. While it was short, Rachel and Rachna didn’t spend time posturing and performing and beating around the bush on racism, they went straight to the point and asked their followers to put their money where their mouth is, literally.
THE MORNING TOAST IS TOAST
One of the most popular podcasts is The Morning Toast, hosted by sisters Jackie and Claudia Oshry. This podcast covers pretty much all things pop culture, from The Bachelor to Real Housewives and everything in between. The hosts and podcast got into hot water in 2018 when it was discovered their mother is known as flagrantly racist and Islamaphobic. Followers were hurt. They never mentioned or condemned their mother. The sisters confronted that their mother was in fact all of those things, but really everything went back to normal. Fast forward to now, you would think the Oshry sisters would learn from their mistakes. In their June 1 episode, they promoted bail funds and GoFundMe fundraisers for George Floyd and are choosing The Hate U Give (a YA book about police brutality) for their next book club, but one thing was noticeably missing: any mention of their mother. If the Oshry sisters really were committed to dismantling white supremacy, they would have faced the racist elephant in the room. It seems a lot of their followers agree: they are leaving their affinity Facebook groups and calling out the sisters on social media. Only time will tell if their followers are as committed to the cause as they say or if this will blow over like in 2018.
If you’re looking for a way to take your advocacy further than a social media post, consider donating to a bail fund.