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“Resistance” has become a multi-million dollar industry

My journey starting a brand, and maintaining authenticity.

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Activist ShiShi Rose wrote this in an Instagram post addressing white liberals in the wake of the 2016 election of Donald Trump, “For some people, their outlook of this country deeply changed on November 9th. For the rest of us, this is how it has always looked. I want to remind you that that is a privilege. It's a privilege that white supremacy wasn't at the forefront of your reality, because you benefit from it. I want to remind you that no ally ever got very far, in any movement, without acknowledgment of their own privilege daily.”  Although her words hit home, for black women like me, it went right over some people's heads.  White liberal women, and men, in positions of power have exploited “resistance” sentiments, taken ownership, and have made it into a moneymaking scheme.

“Resistance” has become a sexy fad.  People are buying mugs with statements like “I hate waking up in the morning, and Donald Trump is still president”, women are wearing “Nasty Woman” tees, brands are touting the “Nevertheless, she persisted” phrase, but where were all of these bold statements, and outspoken people, when we really needed them? Where were these people at the Black Lives Matter Protests? How did they vote at the polls? Did they even vote? What did they do, when it counted... when it mattered?

Prior to the election, I started working on a side-project called Passive Resistance.  As a 23-year-old, black, post-grad, female, feeling all types of powerless, I decided to put my effort and energy into creating a brand that shed light on the nonprofits who are leading the charge against bigotry, racism, and many other ‘isms. The people doing the hard work are largely underpaid, under-resourced, and undervalued, and my response was Passive Resistance.

I endeavored upon a venture to create a brand that allowed liberals an opportunity to identify and align themselves with the organizations that were putting in the work to help disenfranchised populations. I’m obviously not the first to start a social enterprise, but I’m making sure I’m doing it authentically, devoid of exploitation. It’s funny how the people who are making the most out of “feminist” brands are largely white men, selling to white women, whose self-proclaimed feminism is not intersectional, and disregards and excludes an entire socio-economic class of people.

I launched Passive Resistance in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, a lifestyle jewelry brand that helps like-minded people identify themselves as liberals. If being part of the “resistance” is so sexy, then you better be willing to own and call attention to, and financially support, liberal organizations.  30% of all purchases are donated to a network of non-profits including Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Americans for Immigrant Justice.  Our goal is to ultimately increase our give amount to 50%, as the brand gains more traction.

One of the reasons why conservatives, namely Trumpian era supporters, have a deep allegiance for their party is because they identify with one another, regardless of how morally undone that identity might be.  Passive Resistance is amplifying and celebrating the diversity that being a liberal, is founded upon.

Wearing a bracelet might be a “passive” form of expression, but ultimately it’s an authentic act of resistance.  Now, more than ever, non-profits like the ACLU, and the NAACP, require real support; not just shares on Facebook, or shoutouts on Twitter, real, financial support, and Passive Resistance is offering you the opportunity to do so.

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Elyse is a 2016 Venture for America Fellow living in Philadelphia, working on her brand Passive Resistance. Meeting new people, innovating everyday.