In a new PSA made in partnership with the NAACP, white celebrities such as Kristen Bell, Sarah Paulson, Kesha, Aaron Paul, Stanley Tucci, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Debra Messing claim they’re now “taking responsibility for the ways they’ve perpetuated racism through silence or inaction,” according to a press release.
“I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was,” the celebs say. “Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype. Every blatant injustice no matter how big or small.”
Accompanying the video is a hashtag, #ITakeResponsibility, as well as a call to donate to the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and the Bail Project. And, let’s be clear, this is all good! The intentions are good! You should donate to those places (these, too). And, hey, at least they’re not saying all this from a bathtub filled with rose petals? (The bar, we admit, is extraordinarily low.)
The PSA has nevertheless been the subject of much jeering, with critics correctly pointing out how little words such as this actually accomplish in the larger scheme of things while also dunking on its overtly somber black-and-white aesthetic and the chest-pounding theatrics of its participants, most of whom appear to be reading the message off some manner of teleprompter. You’re professional memorizers! Memorize!
Much of the conversation around the clip also dovetails with ongoing discussions regarding impactful engagement vs. performative allyship, with many telling the celebs to turn off the cameras and just cut a damn check. (To Bell’s credit, she donated $150,000 to No Kid Hungry back in March.)
Regardless of how you feel about videos like this, we’d like to take this opportunity to second Bill Corbett’s call for a Celebrity Cringe Tax. It’s long overdue.
Looking for ways to advocate for Black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.
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