Allyship or Marketing?: Monthly Baiting Culture and Vernacular Appropriation

This week’s edition covers stories 
from June 16th to June 28th, 2023.

Today’s issue is 813 words, a 6-minute read.

Today Isabella speaks Allyship or Marketing?: monthly baiting culture and vernacular appropriation

Good morning, readers. 

For this week’s edition, it’ll only be yours truly, Isabella, while Helene is adventuring abroad. 

Last weekend I visited the Twin Cities 25th Jazz Fest at Mears Park, in St. Paul. An amazing array of musicians filled with its solacing melodic blues. At the same time, PRIDE events filled the weekend, such as Klituation at 1st Ave or the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival at Loring Park, in Minneapolis. 

Taste of Minnesota 2023 flyer 📸 Courtesy Taste of Minnesota

For my R&B and Soul lovers, Erykah Badu will be performing this Friday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, together with legendary rapper Yasiin Bey. Taste of Minnesota is back this year on July 2nd and 3rd along Nicollet Mall between Washington Ave and 5th St, from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Visitors can taste Nixta, Oceanaire, Soulbowl, Animales BBQ, Redwagon, and more. If you’re not only in it for the mouth-watering food, Third Eye Blind and Big Boi are the headliners for the weekend. You also don’t want to miss an amazing queer exhibit Going Out, Coming In: LGBTQ+ Spaces in Downtown Minneapolis at the Mill City Museum to learn about “where the queer people found or created community while addressing the systemic challenges of legal and extralegal discrimination, urban renewal, and HIV/AIDS.”

Allyship or Marketing?

Let’s Talk About It.

📸 @stuffgracemade | Instagram

Wired called it ‘Rainbow-Washing’ (2018). On Instagram, Matt Bernstein, a well-known makeup artist and LGBTQ+ activist, posted a photograph in 2022 that read “putting a rainbow up for one month every year is not allyship, it’s marketing”. This statement is inferring what is known as performative activism. We saw it happen when people changed their profile pictures to a black avi in support of the Black Lives Matter movement; the same way people would include #BLM or #LGBTQ+ on their dating app profiles. 

Every month of the year has a reason to celebrate, or a commemoration. The advertising world sees this as an opportunity to push an agenda for that month only. In February we have Black History Month, in March it’s Women’s History Month, in June it’s PRIDE Month, in September-October it’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and so on. The marketing movements for these celebrations always catch my eye, especially at frequented spaces like Target. Just like for the 4th of July, you walk in to see a color scheme and a community’s vernacular on clothing and accessories. Is it supportive or is it performative?

In a recent episode in Vox’s ‘Today Explained’, they talked to Kathleen Newman-Bremang about the word “Woke” and its meaning. I bring this to our readers today because of the term “woke politics” and the movement of parents against the “woke agenda”. As a consequence of opposition to the “woke agenda”, companies like Target or Bud Light received backlash for their LGBTQ+ campaigns in 2023. The writer provides a phenomenal walk through the history of the word, to which I recommend reading the article here.

 “Learning wakes you up. To be woke in its intended meaning is to be aware and informed.

– Kathleen Newman-Bremang, Refinery 29

And she’s right! You can coin terms and remove their foundations, yet you need to stay awake and informed about the world around you. The writer calls readers to ask what people actually mean when using the word due to current affairs swinging the term in either direction. What’s the underlying meaning?

Like the word ‘Woke’, other words become coined in general culture and used for purposes not-intended. Every year comes the wave of corporate allyship to communities who created commemorative dates for uprisings, revolutions, and justice – while still fighting for their rights. In the meantime, while you see rainbow flags and “support” at your favorite coffee shop in the morning, or at your offices’ front door, the ACLU has tracked 491 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S. in 2023; books by Black authors are being banned in at least five states; and Florida immigrants are exiting the state as Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the SB 1718 immigration law that goes into effect on July 1st, 2023. The list goes on. 

There’s a tight line between allyship and marketing campaigns to appeal to the D.E.I. agenda. Certain symbols that are so intrinsic to social justice movements were used as signs of support when these began. I can see where the lines become blurred when social justice symbols become mass-produced and copy and pasted over products and brands. Many see this as baiting. Lack of representation or never fully representing the truth and depths of an identity and expression can be invalidating. Once-a-month support can come off as inauthentic, too. You can’t overdo it. How much is too much? And, how should corporate America navigate the marketed D.E.I discourse? 

We want to know what YOU think. Email us at

That’s all for this lovely Thursday. Enjoy your long weekends! Until next week, together with Helene.


Hi, friend: Isabella here! 
I’m a Communications Specialist by day
and watching the 
laser show on 4th of July night!  

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