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This post was drafted before the Roe decision came out so we don’t mention it explicitly. We know these issues are immensely interconnected and that performative allyship harms those with the least amount of privilege in every scenario—whether it’s an ad for Juneteenth ice cream or an empty promise of action supporting reproductive rights.
Now that the Juneteenth posts have died down and we’re reaching the end of Pride’s month of rainbows, we have some things to say about performative allyship. I’m sure you’ve heard about the Juneteenth ice cream, rainbow washing during Pride month, and a host of other epic fails that have resulted in backlash, and rightfully so.
Why are corporations insensitive and oblivious when it comes to recognizing and celebrating diversity?
It makes me wonder if these brands had Black and queer people at their decision-making tables. Yet, the bigger question is if their grand gestures aren’t for show or solely for monetary gain, as many of them have claimed, then where are they when we need them to actually show support for us?
We do not want Juneteenth ice cream nor do we want corporations to change their logos to the Pride flag this month. We want them to practice pay equity, ensure that Black and LGBTQ+ workers are safe and are not subject to discrimination, and that promotions and leadership positions are accessible to all.
We do not need corporations to claim to be anti-racist, but rather to demonstrate that they are pro-Black, pro-Brown, pro-Asian, etc. We do not need them to just be LBGTQ+ friendly, but rather to help us defeat anti-equality legislation. We need organizational leaders to advocate for Black workers and LGBTQ+ workers’ rights to not only exist, but to thrive.
The challenges that historically excluded and underrepresented workers face are compounded when they have intersecting marginalized identities. Thus, queer people of color, women of color, and neurodiverse staff of color often have difficulties navigating heteronormative, ableist, patriarchal, and predominantly white institutions.
So, if you want to celebrate Juneteenth and/or Pride, then affirm the intersections of our being and support what truly matters to us. This includes decolonizing “professionalism,” providing comprehensive and inclusive healthcare options, ensuring that workplaces are accessible for people with disabilities, and building structures that help all staff have enriching work experiences.
We do not need nor want performative allyship this month. We demand that our dignity be affirmed 365 days of the year. That is, stand on the right side of history every day.
I joined M+R a year ago. I like how staff here celebrate one another, privately giving thanks for an individual’s contributions as well as publicly (e.g., #hotd [Hero of the Day] on Slack) acknowledging the achievements of team members. And right now, we’re hiring a ton of positions. Check out all our openings at mrss.com/careers.
Adiyah is M+R’s Senior Vice President for Anti-racism, Equity, and Inclusion. Aside from providing strategy, guidance, and expertise on enhancing our workplace culture, policies, and practices, she’s likely chauffeuring her kids around while pondering on the intersection of motherhood and leadership.
Alec MacIntyre is a Digital Fundraising & Advocacy Account Executive at M+R. He also holds a PhD in ethnomusicology and wrote his dissertation on voice and gender performance among drag artists in Pittsburgh. His scholarship has been published in Sounding Board and Liminalities and he has taught at Seton Hill University and the University of Pittsburgh.