The recent upheaval that’s come as a result of the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd has launched days of protests, riots, and calls to action for our government to make policy changes that protect citizens, particularly Black citizens, from unchecked police brutality. Of course, this isn’t the first time America has pleaded for change. We asked when it was Emmett Till, when it was Amadou Diallo, when it was Tamir Rice, when it was Sandra Bland. We’ve been dealing with these issues for decades, and people have turned out in all 50 states — in the middle of a pandemic — to say that enough is enough.
But this week’s events have brought other issues relating to antiblackness to the forefront, ones that go beyond police brutality. Folks are discussing systemic racism and how it permeates every aspect of our society. On Tuesday, June 2, people were encouraged to post a black square on their Instagram feeds to bring awareness to these issues, but that sparked conversations about whether that gesture is enough — especially when it comes from brands that don’t typically act on the kind of solidarity they found it fit to perform on #blackouttuesday.
Short answer: No. It’s not enough. And Sharon Chuter is letting it be known. The Uoma Beauty founder took to Instagram on Wednesday, June 3 to call out beauty brands for their lack of organizational inclusivity and is imploring then to fix it in a meaningful way.
Chuter is challenging brands to make public how many Black people work at a corporate level in their companies. She is also encouraging consumers to not spend money with those brands for 72 hours, or until they release this data.
Chuter is calling the challenge “Pull Up or Shut Up.” She made a post on Instagram explaining the initiative: “Your favorite brands are making bold PR statements about their support for the Black community. Please ask them how many Black employees they have in their organization (HQ and satellite offices only) and how many Black people they have in leadership roles. For the next 72 hours DO NOT purchase from any brand and demand they release these figures.”
Chuter also made videos explaining it all, posting them to the @pullupforchange Instagram page as well as her personal profile. “We’ve been seeing something we have never seen before, brands and corporations posting publicly showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for that we thank you.” However, she feels as if much of the support reads as a public relations stunt and a way to save face in this tumultuous time.
In the videos, Chuter says that Black people only make up eight percent of corporate roles, three percent in management roles, and when we’re talking about to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, there are only four Black people who hold those positions in the United States. Even when Black women, in particular, are looking for funding to grow their businesses, she says they on average get $42,000 while a white men get $2.2 million.