FCKH8 has built a good image for itself. It emerged out of the controversy following California’s Proposition 8, which was on the ballot in 2008 to repeal same sex marriage. Now some years later, with over 300,000 likes on Facebook, over 40,000 Twitter followers, and endorsements from Jane Lynch, Dan Savage, and the eighth horcrux Zefron, the organization has become fairly recognizable for its mainstream progressive stance on LGBT issues. It also does a good job of making people forget that its stance is mainstream by creating viral in-your-face ad campaign videos complete with swears!
The organization has gotten some flak in the past for its off-putting social media posts that tend toward misogyny and liberal racism (AKA RACISM). There are lots of images I could point you to, some of which I have included below, but unfortunately, it isn’t anything I haven’t seen before with supposedly progressive social media.
A new controversy has come to light with FCKH8 creating t-shirts to “raise awareness” about the goings on in Ferguson. It seems as though FCKH8 has decided it wants to take a stance on racism in America as well. In a recent video, aptly titled “A Kind of Awkward Note to America,” FCKH8 urges viewers to buy a “Racism Is Not Over, But I’m Over Racism” t-shirt in the most awkwardly feel-good advertising script imaginable.
Perhaps addressing many different kinds of hate (first homophobia, now racism, maybe) is a great way to expand their brand recognition. Can it maybe address my hatred for shameless pandering and marketing? If you can’t tell by now FCKH8 is basically just a glorified apparel company. If you go to the website, over half of the copy on the homepage advertises different kinds of “gear” based on socially progressive affiliations, with banners telling you how to get free shipping, or links to help you find the right size. Like if you want to make sure everyone knows you don’t like racism, check out the “anti-racism gear.” If you want to tell everyone it’s OK to be gay, check out the “LGBT equality gear.” Not sure you want to commit to a whole t-shirt? Check out the accessories.
The organization recently “became owned and managed” by Synergy Media, a company that actually uses the word “synergy” in its name (really?). If the video didn’t already make this campaign feel disingenuous, the professional relationship with a company that specializes in boutique merchandizing and corporate identity surely will. Last week, Colorlines discussed the economy surrounding anti-black violence in response to this new “anti-racist” campaign, an economy in which FCKH8 is no doubt participating. “Ironically,” Colorlines points out, “this economy’s profit margins depend on upholding the very racism this video claims to want to eliminate.” $5 from a $20 shirt is gratuitous profiteering from murder for an overwhelmingly white owned and operated company.
FCKH8 insists that $5 from each shirt sold will go to “charities working in communities to fight racism,” and expressly named Race Forward as one of the recipients. Race Forward is an excellent non-profit organization with work in research, media, and community organizing. It is also the official publisher of Colorlines. Recently, Race Forward responded:
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.
Let’s face it. FCKH8 is so awkward, so accidentally racist, so oblivious, so ridiculously basic, so painfully appealing to everyone. Sometimes companies just want to make a buck. We’re over it.