Why Amy Schumer’s Allyship With Colin Kaepernick Reeks of Exploitation
Amy Schumer, the stand-up comedian and actress, known for “gems” like Snatched and most recently I Feel Pretty is making headlines for her surprisingly strong stance against inequality. Her highly visible support for Colin Kaepernick was announced via Instagram where she shared that her talent team was advised to reject any incoming offers for lucrative Super Bowl ads.
The reaction to Schumer’s brave declaration has been mixed as some applaud her willingness to take a stand while others aren’t so quick to heap praises on a celebrity, who expectedly picks and chooses when to be “woke” — and when to remain blissfully detached from the activated issues that are pretty darn hard to escape if you’re managing multiple timelines.
My personal opinion is inspired by the lethargic rhythm of accommodating all the ways in which White women are celebrated for contributions that don’t necessarily warrant that level of acknowledgment, but their privilege allows them to be strategically righteous.
The reception that embraced America’s Sweetheart, Taylor Swift, after the heartfelt Instagram post where she poetically entered the political arena, by assuring her fans that her silent streak is over due to personal events — that have evidently propelled the need to find her voice — was greeted with mostly rave reviews.
The naysayers who wrote think pieces to challenge Swift’s sudden change of heart as well as the convenient timing, which happened to be on the heels of Kanye’ s shitfest — did their best to match up with the current climate of relentless accountability — that suggests taking ownership of longstanding inactivity — especially when it comes to ultra-sensitive topics.
Swift is a twenty-eight-year-old woman, with a vibrantly seasoned career that gives her the ability to sell out gigantic venues in seconds. She’s also a White woman in a world that readily recognizes that prized disposition, which means that being vocal about any of the urgent items plaguing her home country is a choice that she can finally make when shit hits too close to home.
Her reluctance to speak out in the past with refreshing consistency is a decision that people with her privilege can afford to make.
And while it would be counterproductive to dissect what exactly inspired the singer to shift gears — as a Black woman who isn’t able to conveniently bounce back and forth between purposed enlightenment and reserved observation with splashes of nonchalance — Swift’s latest attempt at sounding the alarm about racial injustice and LGBTQ rights basically indicates the need to be stoically relevant.
And that summation can be delivered to another A-lister, who has dropped her bold declaration, with the interesting timing that intersects with a more beloved superstar, who graciously turned down the epic opportunity to perform during this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.
Rihanna was driven by her unwavering support for Colin Kaepernick, and the need to publicly shame the NFL for its refusal to recognize the rights of athletes — who are passionate about fighting the systemic oppression suffocating their communities — and dutifully demonstrate their views in a non-combative manner.
This isn’t the first time the singer and beauty guru has voiced her opinion about the issues that are glaringly pressing and deserving of a platform that attracts the kind of attention that keeps them highlighted.
As a young Black woman with influential power, Rihanna’s personal investment naturally runs deep, and those tendencies aren’t dictated by the motivation to hijack moments that are birthed from hot ticket items — that could possibly enhance her reputation.
Her activism is embedded in the language she speaks and the audience that she specifically targets with her talents and the authenticity that elevates her signature moves.
This is what makes Amy Schumer’s latest attention-grabbing statement, not only naggingly suspect, but it also reeks of blatant exploitation when you consider the damning track record of the source and how it proves the transparency of false allyship.
Schumer’s need to insert herself in the narrative that she really doesn’t know that much about due to her inexperience and inactive participation is the classic symptom of White feminism, and further illustrates why these types of “allies” are only able to firmly align when the timing is right — under perfectly staged conditions.
If you happened to Google search “Amy Schumer — Colin Kaepernick” two weeks ago, you most likely wouldn’t have stumbled on anything newsworthy. But fast forward to the present, and the search results basically heighten the comedian’s profile as the newly “woke” White celeb — who is strongly standing by the decision to turn down non-existent offers that she could realistically afford to ignore.
There’s also the never-ending quest for White women to cunningly utilize their privilege in ways that aim to dim the spotlight that brightly shines on their Black counterparts, by manipulating the narrative in ways that evoke the falsehood of their supposed heroism.
In this case, when it comes to star power and the accompanying receipts of a flawless trajectory, Schumer isn’t remotely within the vicinity of Rihanna’s territory. And yet when the White woman takes advantage of an earnestly delivered stance from a Black woman — who is giving up the chance of a lifetime in order to remain loyal to a personal cause — her non-sacrifice is deemed admirable and noteworthy.
This isn’t the first time Schumer has been on standby when it comes to swooping in to claim or poach moments, that center around women that she has nothing in common with and rarely speaks up for when the situation warrants it.
From Sandra Bland to the bereaved mothers of sons that succumbed to the death trap of the very system that forced Colin Kaepernick to take a knee while the national anthem blares through the field — there is zero evidence of Schumer’s allyship with Black women, despite her substantial following and her enviable popularity with young women who share her template.
When iconic comedian Mo’Nique was in a headlock with Netflix earlier this year over the streaming giant’s refusal to offer a deal that matched her legendary status — Schumer was added to the conversation — as the Oscar-winner decried the fact that a less talented and less funny comedian who hasn’t won any major awards, was able to amass millions from Netflix for her comedy special.
To be fair, Mo’Nique’s mention of Schumer wasn’t nearly as bitter as my version, in fact the award-winning actress was decent in her approach, and basically pointed out why the pay disparity between the two didn’t make sense when you consider longevity and accumulated accolades.
This would’ve been a great opportunity for Schumer to display her willingness to support a Black woman and fellow comedian, who desperately needed allies within her industry to stand by her and demonstrate solidarity over the issue of compensation, and how vital it is for working women to fight for what they’re worth even when the odds are against them.
But Schumer wasn’t in the least bit interested in speaking up for Mo’Nique outside of a brief response to her insertion, that lightly expressed how initially “bummed” she was before shifting to cautious empathy. Perhaps the hostility that was directed at the allegedly “blackballed” actress — particularly from members of her own community, and the fact that heavyweights like Lee Daniels, Oprah and Whoopi were also disapproving — dissuaded the incentive to be a visible cheerleader.
However taking an unpopular stand in the midst of viral controversy is proof of durability and strong character, which is a memorable way to solidify allegiance to anything and anyone when such a defiant stance really counts for something — and could potentially lead to tangible results.
White women like Schumer are more versed with the practice of taking what doesn’t belong to them, and using their privilege to translate it so that it rings true for their personalized pursuits.
We saw that play out when back in 2016, Schumer ill-advisedly hijacked the cultural movement that was gifted to Black women from Beyonce’s love letter that was Lemonade. The album was a symbolic revolution that birthed a season of “wokeness” that literally held the world hostage.
As Black women reveled in the joyousness of authoritative visibility that beautifully and ceremoniously validated our primal characteristics, our White counterparts were zealously trying to figure out avenues that would lead to their privileged inclusion.
Schumer’s infamous contribution to the celebratory climate specifically geared towards Black women involved engaging in a parody of the notable track Formation with the cast and crew of the movie she was filming at the time.
Once the video made the rounds, the backlash was rightfully intense, and it prompted the actress to whip up a quick rebuttal where she lazily relied on the outright betrayal of White feminism by claiming that her intentions were rooted in the religion of empowering women — and encouraging the bonds that form when we are all driven by the same agenda.
This same mentality was also resurrected during the chaos of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, that incited nationwide protests that attracted the participation of big name celebs, including Schumer. As the final vote from Susan Collins finalized the dire outcome, dismayed users took to Twitter to vent their frustration and anger in reaction to the bleak turn of events.
Things quickly went left when it was established that the anguish of White women had led them to inconceivably repurpose the mission statement of Colin Kaepernick’s activism, by insultingly assuming that the act of kneeling during the anthem to protest the systemic injustice against Black people can be easily transferable to the broader stroke of women’s rights.
But that’s always been and always will be the fundamental instinct of White feminists, who cowardly hide behind the banner of buzz phrases like “women empowerment” and “women’s rights” when the occasion is relatively agreeable for a star-studded march, that streams with the gloriousness of civilized activism — that demands glamorous selfies for Instgrammed scrapbooks.
The grittiness of protests that are blood-soaked from the departed spirits that died for the crime of existing while Black — can’t be prettied up and captured with flexible filters, and in those instances, the allyship of White women with massive platforms barely registers — for obvious reasons.
Amy Schumer’s very public support of Kaepernick not long after Rihanna’s dignified outing is hard to accept without weighing the advantages that she reaps as a White woman aligning herself with an activist whose legacy already carries historical wealth.
Kaepernick’s noble sacrifice wasn’t a ploy for attention, but rather the commitment to endearingly highlight an issue that is costing Black lives, and requires the the same sense of urgency as a national crisis.
Her plea to White celebs to follow her lead is also ironic, given the fact that she’s not exactly a pro when it comes to being a persistently vocal opponent of this divisive climate that represents the endorsement of White supremacy by our bigoted president.
It’s a lot easier to ride the coattails of those who’ve selflessly paved the way, and continue to bear the heavy burden that comes with the immense responsibility of upholding the principles of humanity — in a setting that very few of us would be capable of effectively utilizing without hesitation.
It’s a mindset that’s borne from the freedom of being consumed in the belief of something that’s goes beyond instant gratification — and the need to exploit the messaging or the heroic activism of an ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing.
It’s the exact opposite of what White feminism stands for and how it operates — and that’s precisely why Amy Schumer’s allyship is not applicable.