Leah Johnson

From the Archives: Hating on H8

Originally published in the Mooring Mast, Nov. 14th, 2014 by Leah Larson

FCKH8 is a company that is notorious for putting together quick and funny videos about various activist causes and selling shirts to raise money for those causes.

Unfortunately, that’s also a really easy way for a company to make a lot of money.
FCKH8 is a for-profit company. The money they make off their T-shirts or from the advertising on their YouTube videos goes directly toward various employees’ paychecks.
Ultimately, FCKH8 has successfully raised almost $6000 for various charities with their anti-racism gear. Those $6000 will go on to do great things, but FCKH8 still falls short in its advocacy.

FCKH8 claims that money from their T-shirts go toward various activist causes. Recently, they produced a line of T-shirts with phrases like “RACISM ISN’T OVER BUT I’M OVER RACISM.” They said that $5 of each shirt sale go toward nonprofit groups like Race Forward, among others.

But that isn’t true. On their Facebook page, Race Forward made a post in September which states,

“It has been brought to our attention that outlets have been reporting our affiliation with Synergy Media and FCKH8.com. Race Forward has never received any money from Synergy Media nor do we have an agreement with the company or FCKH8.com campaign. To be clear, Race Forward would not accept any proceeds from this effort.”
In short, FCKH8 lied about what was happening with the profits made off of various T-shirts.
While they no longer claim that they donate to Race Forward, the fact that they spread false information about their finances is still unethical and should not be ignored just because they say they’ve given money elsewhere. They lied in the first place and could easily lie again.

“For FCKH8 to say that they’re giving money to charities that aren’t accepting the money is fraud, pure and simple,” said junior Angela Tinker. “Lying like that shows they’re a business where a portion of the proceeds may go to charity. It’s like when you pay an extra five cents at Starbucks to donate to the Red Cross. That might help, but really it’s still about making profit.”

In response, FCKH8 later released a statement saying that Race Forward is a homophobic organization that trivializes breast cancer awareness.
Admittedly, Race Forward is an organization that combats racial injustices and is not in the business of battling homophobia or breast cancer.

Even if FCKH8 wasn’t lying about what they do with their money, their organization is still an amazing example of slacktivism.
Slacktivism is a type of activism which encourages activities like buying a T-shirt and then doing nothing else. It’s similar to when your Aunt Kathy changes her Facebook profile photo to a picture of a cartoon character to raise awareness for children who experience abuse. It’s a nice thought but nothing actually gets done.

“FCKH8 focuses on gimmicks, like little girls cursing, and doesn’t have any real means of advocacy,” Tinker said. “They distract from the real issue. It’s like Kony 2012, everyone was talking about it because it was a gimmick, but all that it produced was slacktivism.”
That sort of activism does very little.

“In order to be successful, activism needs to have goals it can meaningfully and measurably achieve,” Tinker said.

Effective advocacy means engaging in thoughtful discourse with people around you, even if it’s just on Facebook. It means boycotting businesses and writing letters to politicians.

Making brightly colored T-shirts and gimmick-laden videos does not fit into the model of effective advocacy.
FCKH8 does start conversations about LGBT issues and only LGBT issues, as their merchandise section for queer individuals is labeled “LGBT Equality.”

That’s a step. It’s important to start conversations about the experiences of queer people and all oppressed people. But it’s not enough of a step.


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