BY DEMETRIA OSEI-TUTU ’17
In these trying times when activism is prevalent and more important than ever, many wonder where celebrities stand on participating in movements. There are many celebrities who actively participate in activism and in social justice. They use their social media profiles to be vocal about the issues. Others do not. Can and should celebrities remain neutral when human rights are being violated?
Activism is not necessarily in the job description for a celebrity. It is not something they are required to do, but as public figures with public platforms, why shouldn't they? They arearmed with the platform and the money to make a difference, so why do they often choose not to join causes? It feels kind of cheap to not use their advantage to help people and to ignite change. A lot of the problems in the world affect them, they are people with rights.
Because they are people, like us, with rights, they are entitled to a political opinion. Many disagree with that sentiment for some reason. They seem to have this misguided notion that these "high and mighty" celebrities are telling us "normal" people what to do when they don't know what's like to be us, to struggle. Even though celebrities are normal people and many were not born into fame. At the end of the day, celebrities still pay taxes and live in this country. They are not robot entertainers, purely for our amusement. Thinking a celebrity can't have an opinion about something pertaining to their country and their rights is very dehumanizing.
Celebrities definitely can't stay neutral when they brand themselves with titles like "feminist." When a celebrity such as Taylor Swift claims to be a feminist but chooses not to speak out about issues like Black Lives Matter, trans rights and reproductive rights (the list honestly goes on), is she really a feminist? Being a feminist is honestly more than just preaching girl power and having a squad filled with women; feminism is about supporting all women and the issues that affect them.
Perhaps Taylor doesn't want to ruin her career. But the main problem lies in that Taylor Swift can't just reap the benefits of being called feminist without putting her money where her mouth is. She can't decide to stay silent during the election and then tweet about how empowering the Women's March was. She has not spoken up before for the values of the Women's March but now she is so glad for it. That's not how that works. Celebrity activism is a double-edged sword as you can't be afraid to lose an audience for their views on one cause but then be okay with gaining an audience for another view. It would mean that you are only willing to admit, claim or share an opinion if it's beneficial to you. And that's not how activism works. You can't hide behind silence forever, your silence is loud.