Protests in the forms of marches have always been an important method of expressing dissent. I have a lot of respect for people who (sometimes literally) put their lives on the line to stand up for a cause that they believe in, but marches are not accessible to or practical for everyone. For people who can’t or don’t want to go to marches, and even for those who can but still want to do something else, there are a number of ways to protest that might be more suitable to your circumstances.
One of the most powerful methods we have as people of showing support or opposition is where we choose to put our money.
Put your money where your mouth is phrase (informal) to take action to support one’s statements or opinions, especially by giving money.
This phrase underpins the motivation behind financial protesting, also known as economic boycotting. Financial protesting involves purposefully directing your money away from, usually, companies that you do not want to support in an attempt to get their attention (by decreasing their profit) and force said company to address the specific issue that you are protesting. This is my favourite type of protesting because it is an option that is available to most people, and can be done anywhere, on different scales, and has been known to be effective. Economic boycotts have been rising in popularity due to the fact that they are a lot easier to contribute to compared to marches or demonstrations, especially because you do not need to be physically present in order to participate in them.
In light of recent events regarding a Facebook post, in which British model Munroe Bergdorf (a black trans woman) was speaking out against racism, that was taken out of context and the subsequent action taken by L’Oréal (a cosmetics company that owns a number of brands), I, and thousands of other people, have decided to not put a single cent of my, and their, money into the pockets of the people who fired her. If you are asking yourself what you can do as a woman of colour, a trans person, or an ally, there are many ways to show your support for Bergdorf and show your disproval of L’Oréal’s actions, one would be to not buy any of their products. If you are someone in such a position, you can even stop working for them, as BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo has done.
Not even a week ago I was proud to announce that I was to be in the same campaign as Munroe. A trans woman of colour who @lorealmakeup hired to sell make up because of who she is. Who she is, a woman who wrote a nuanced post on institutional racism and white supremacy in relation to Charlottesville and how the foundations of those heinous ideals trickle in to every facet of our society. A newspaper took her post out of context and span it as "a rant" 🙄 with the most basic of dog whistle politics to rally people against her. She has now been dropped from the campaign because L'Oreal feel that she is "at odds with our values"…..If she's not "worth it" anymore, I guess I'm not either. #IStandWithMunroe
Almost exactly a year ago, NFL player Colin Kaepernick brought international attention to himself by sitting (now kneeling) during the United States’ national anthem as a way to protest the treatment of people of colour in the U.S. Because of this he has garnered support from other athletes, celebrities, and American soldiers, but he has also been subject to harsh criticism, and having played well enough to get into the NFL in the first place, Kaepernick is currently unsigned, and is yet to be offered a job by any NFL teams for the upcoming season. However, over 175,000 people have shown their support for Kaepernick by signing a #NoKaepernickNoNFL petition and vowing to not watch any of the coming season’s NFL games until he has been signed to an NFL team.
There are many ways to financially protest social issues, political issues, even environmental issues; from buying locally produced food (there are local and/or small producers and businesses that you can support), to turning down extremely well-paying jobs. That being said, there has been a lot of discourse regarding the futility of ethical consumerism. Yes, there are large companies that own many, many brands that we sometimes cannot avoid patronising. And more often than not, the cruelty free option and the animal tested option are being sold to you by the same people, but buying the option that adheres closest to your values would still have a similar effect; companies are not going to continue to make products that people are not buying.
You could even stop supporting media that do not include people of colour, those that portray people of colour as stereotypes, those that hire white people to act as people of colour. (Side note: I wasn’t aware that there was an Indian man who was played by a white actor in The Social Network until recently. Thanks, Master of None). All of this can be applied to the media that you consume and its relationship with other groups of marginalised people.
It can be really easy
A lot of financial protesting does not have to involve spending (more) money. Just by not financially supporting institutions, companies, people or anything that goes against your values, you can participate in an act that can incite change.
Jasmine Tendaupenyu is a Civil Engineering student at Newcastle University who likes baked goods and intersectional feminism.