For years, Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie leveraged her digital platform to comedically side-eye and judge her way to the top. The years she vested into blogging and viral posts finally hit a career aha moment a few months ago when she scored a deal with Shonda Rhimes to develop a show off of her NYT best-selling book of essays, ‘I’m Judging You.’ It was a full-circle moment for the internet sensation, who gathered her following from detailed and humorous ‘Scandal’ recaps.
But what should be a career high for Luvvie has been overshadowed by a problematic Facebook post the blogger fired off Sunday morning to her followers.
In the 667 word rant, Luvvie aimed her infamous side-eye at an invisible foe in one epic ‘sub’ status, dismissing the power of digital activism and calling out people for allowing themselves to be ‘defined’ by marginalization.
With the rise of social media, the way in which disenfranchised groups approach oppression has evolved beyond the marches, bus boycotts and sit-ins of the past. Now, we are able to amplify stories with a simple tweet and get the attention of mass media through hashtags. Coupled with tangible action through protest and legislative reform, it has become a powerful and important tool.
But Luvvie doesn’t acknowledge that shift in the culture, instead she says these ‘digital activists’ sit in a ’24-hour cycle of outrage,’ using their marginalization as their badge of honor.
Sorry Luvvie, but unless you’ve been hiding in a hole for the last couple of years (which I know you haven’t), the trauma against Blackness and our bodies exists in a 24-hour cycle.
With the repeated incidents of black men and women killed at the hands of the police, the continued erasure of young Black girls who disappear from their homes and the reality of human trafficking plaguing Black communities, those of us with a pulse feel the weight of injustice daily–whether we want to or not.
No one is crying ‘wolf’ when the beasts of injustice are literally sitting in our homes, places of work and lurking in our political and judicial systems, reminding us daily that we aren’t equal or worthy. One need not look further than the election of a president who brazenly admitted to grabbing ‘women by the pussy’ and has a known track record of denying housing to POC to see how easily injustice slithers into places of power. The ‘wolf’ of which she speaks is sitting his orange ass in the White House.
Her dismissal of real trauma for Black people then pivoted to what seems like caping for wypipo. I agree that, as a Black community, we need to be open to dialogue with our allies, but Black people are also tired of bearing the onus of educating the world on the perils we face daily. We aren’t telling them to ‘shutup’ Luvvie. On the contrary, we need allies to go beyond asking us questions and marching with us; they must also educate their uninformed family members so as to uproot ugliness at its source.
Her verbal spar with someone whom she refuses to @ upsettingly shifts to mixed race people, whom she charges with using their activism as overcompensation for their ‘lack of melanin’. This divisive assertion that mixed race people are ‘performing blackness’ is as offensive as it is dismissive. It’s long been a pillar of colonialism to divide black people by color, with mixed-raced African-Americans being told they are not ‘black enough,’ so Luvvie’s assertion that their activism is somehow a ‘performance’ steps right in line with the divisive rhetoric of Jim Crow.
Luvvie, who are you to say what activism should look like, how it should be delivered, and how loudly someone can speak about it?
Still, when it comes to social media, Luvvie is hardly alone in her characterization of ‘digital organizing’ as lightweight, ‘fauxtivism.’ Indeed, some people seem to only respect those activists with actual boots on the ground. But you would think someone who quite literally leveraged her social media to build a platform and to craft her “judgement” of people would respect and acknowledge the efforts of those who use that same medium to call attention to oppressed communities.
Luvvie, we accepted wholeheartedly your transition from blogger to screenwriter and cultural critic, so how could you not accept people’s use of their social media platforms for the fight for equality?
Sis, this criticism is not intended to take away from the platform you have built and your status as a digital pioneer for Black women, but to whom much is given, much is expected. And your rant was a misstep in your upward climb.
You are judging black people for how they fight oppression, but I am judging you for your faux authority on what activism looks like.