There’s a debate raging in the Black blogging community about whether or not beauty bloggers should leverage their audiences and platforms to stand in solidarity with the larger Black community to combat anti-Black racism. The conversation began after Luvvie Ajayi, of AwesomelyLuvvie, called out Black beauty bloggers for remaining silent after the Charleston massacre, and apparently, some folks aren’t too pleased.

After noticing many Black beauty bloggers carried on with outfit of the day posts and makeup tutorials while the country mourned the victims of Emanuel AME, Ajayi took to Twitter to ask them why they were silent.

You can read her entire call to action here.

Although Ajayi didn’t direct her ire at any particular blogger, many in the community took offense at her words, which sparked days of subtweets, questions, critiques of her stance.

Gina McCauley of What About Our Daughters called Ajayi’s tweets an “attack” in a rambling post that argues no one should be able to dictate how Black women “must grieve in public.”

The issue has been framed as being about “silence in the face of tragedies.” But that analysis is based on a number of assumptions about Black beauty bloggers all of which view Black beauty bloggers’ motivations in the least charitable light – in other words, there’s a whole lot of projection being directed at an entire group of bloggers that to my knowledge haven’t done anything to anybody other than be run by Black women and exist.

Claire Sulmers of the Fashion Bomb Daily said she was a “little conflicted on the issue” after being called out for attending a Black Lives Matter rally in designer leather heels and highlighting Solange’s outfit during a Trayvon Martin rally. Now, she chooses to remain silent.

I’ve actually been so criticized for attempting to stay on the style topic while showing awareness of current events, that I’ve concluded that fashion, style, and intensely charged political issues don’t mix. So if I march, I march without a camera man or a blog post. If I support, I do so in silence because I feel anything else will be seen as frivolous. And because fashion is, at its core, 100% frivolous, I’ve concluded that perhaps these issues don’t have a place on a fashion blog.

I sympathize with Sulmers’ predicament, but fashion and beauty is not “100% frivolous” as she states. If that were the case folks wouldn’t get so upset when mainstream magazines call young white women “trendy” for wearing traditionally Black styles like braids and twists. If the beauty industry was frivolous, people like Bethann Hardison wouldn’t fight to have Black models included in runway shows. And if the beauty industry was merely frivolous, Black women wouldn’t create their own skin care lines, hair care companies, style movements, and fashion magazines. But image matters, and so do our voices.

While I understand the concerns of beauty bloggers who eschew discussing politically fraught issues for fear it’ll upset their readers or the brands that support them, or because they don’t exactly know what to say, as Black people, we all have a role to play in the fight against anti-Black racism, particularly when it’s directed at Black women.

I’ll admit, the silence among some bloggers—both white and Black, beauty or not—about the Charleston killings astounded me. Unlike Ferguson where the details of the encounter between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson became politicized, or Baltimore, where the civil uprising made it difficult for some to get on board, the shooting in Charleston was widely condemned by everyone on all sides of the political spectrum. Even celebrities who are most beholden to mainstream corporate interests, like Beyoncé and Usher, demonstrated their support. So, speaking out in solidarity with the Charleston victims was an easy one, but apparently, folks rather make it hard.

Though McCauley tells Black beauty bloggers she’s got their backs, I find it odd that her support of the SIX BLACK FEMALE VICTIMS of the Charleston massacre hasn’t been as vocal or forceful. While she posted a picture of Sen. Clementa Pinckney’s widow and daughters on the What About Our Daughters Facebook page with the caption, “These poor babies,” McCauley’s been fairly silent on the issue, choosing instead to reserve her venom for Ajayi’s call for Black solidarity rather than Dylan Roof’s heinous act.

Like McCauley, I applaud beauty bloggers for daring to stake out space in an industry that doesn’t value Black beauty, but I also believe bloggers with huge platforms can—and should—speak out when Black women are under assault, especially when they comprise the largest part of their fan base.

From McKinney, Texas and the Black women and girls assaulted by police, to the female victims in Charleston, raising awareness about Black women’s lives and issues is important, yes, even to those who love makeup.

No one is calling on Black beauty bloggers to write 1,000 word tomes about systematic racism, but showing you care—even if it means rocking a Black Lives Matter tee on your outfit of the day post or putting up a graphic in support of victims on your Instagram page—matters. Because as Audre Lorde pointed out, “your silence will not protect you” against the scourge of anti-Black racism or an overly aggressive cop, no matter how good you look.

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  • Broomy

    Hummm, can’t agree with this article. I go to beauty blogs for escapism and ideas on fashion and beauty. I really don’t want or care to see political stances. Please stop telling black women what they should be doing with their platforms. And further the moment one does go political will be the day I unsub from their blog/channel.

  • palmeria

    Why shouldn’t black beauty bloggers be allowed to get on with their day. There’s ENOUGH images and news about the long-suffering black women. That must be balanced with portraying ourselves in a happy, beautiful way.

  • Jen

    This resonates with me. Posting whilst these holocausts are happening in our community, and not even acknowledge them? This affirms that these shallow posts are of more importance than addressing issues and casualties happening before our eyes. There is no obligation to “publicly” grieve, but are we not mindful enough to show respect for others who are? As a blogger, I wanted to abstain from posting to social media, allowing for a “moment of silence” but I had a change of heart because I realized that it exactly what the media wanted. A simple photo with words of sincere thoughts– that is all it takes. I am so disappointed in my blogging community.