What Black One Direction Fans Reveal About Activism

Gabrielle Foster had Been a fan of One Direction since the age of 11.

“We all come from different backgrounds. We’re all attached to Harry, but we personally don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives,” she told me. “I just want more representation for everyone.” Now in her twenties, Foster is one of the better known “Black Harries” on Twitter, as she was one of the first Black Harry Styles fans to organize efforts to win a public union his with the Black Lives Matter movement.

This goes on for a longer time than many seem to remember. In the fall of 2017, a fan threw a Black Lives Matter flag onto the stage at a Styles concert in London, and Styles ignored it. His fan base is used to him accepting pride flags and dancing with them on stage, as well as his opening monologue about how he values ​​women’s support. any. It didn’t appear to be an accident that he left the flag on the floor, untouched, even as parts of the crowd were holding up Black Lives Matter signs. He is known for notice stuff like that – he used to read the signs away in front of an audience and joke around a bit with the people who wrote the weird signs. Many fans responded with anger. “Use your damn platform,” one person tweeted later. “You’re facilitating hypocrisy.” Others are deeply hurt. “I love Harry, he is my safest place, but I feel so disconnected, so unsupported,” another wrote. Some mocked him with a play of his own lyrics, going from the (horrible) song “Woman”: “You flower, you party” to “You flower, you white feministe.”

Young people advanced to understand network effects reflexively speak of the power that comes with having a large following and a central cultural position, or background, not an object or stable trait which is a privilege bestowed by interconnected groups of real people and therefore should be used with caution. Black fans of Harry Styles don’t argue that he should support Black Lives Matter just because it would be personally affirmative; they see it as his moral responsibility as a man with a high public profile. But many white fans joined the conversation only to think that Black fans were asking too much, that Harry couldn’t support every political cause, and that a concert wasn’t a big deal. Demonstration. After the initial uproar, Styles posted a black and white photo of some of the signs on her Instagram with the caption “Love”. For white fans, that gesture was supposed to be enough. In June 2018, when Gabrielle held a show of mass-printed signs at a show in Hershey, Pennsylvania, white fans tweeted about it with rude embarrassment. This is solved already, right?

“The projects we worked on during the tour, at some point it started to feel hopeless,” she told me. “It was a constant attack on Black fans; We are under attack and we cannot get recognition from Harry. ” Gabrielle went to her second concert, in Washington, DC, and splurged on tickets in the stand at the edge of the stage. She carried a Black Lives Matter flag with her and was about to toss it on Styles, to see if he would. “I was hoping,” she told me. “He was right in front of me and he was talking to someone near me. I threw it at his leg. , and he looked down at it, accidentally stepped on it and left. So that kind of crushed me.” Her mood worsened when some of the girls in the crowd around her insisted insisted she had only herself to blame for the disappointment.. She kept the flag crumpled so he couldn’t watch the whole show, they told her, and then she got mad at him. For not realizing it immediately, she retorted that she had kept the flag open on the edge of the barricade for hours. Night was over and she went home in a fit of rage. very sad at the moment,” she said.“I had a picture he stood on the flag and I was very angry. I even considered not standing still at all because it was so horrible. I went off the rails.”

After a long drive back to Virginia, she cooled down a bit and checked her Twitter messages. Many of her friends in the Styles fandom have sent her clips of another Black Lives Matter flag on Jumbotron at another gig, or of Styles holding this flag in Boston, and one of him screaming up, “I love you all. If you’re black, if you’re white. . . No matter who you are . . . I support you.” In the end, she decided that Styles really cared, but she never forgot that moment of despair. “It is still thrown in the face of Black fans by other fandoms to this day. Well, your favorite person won’t even hold a flagor something like that.”

this is a the term for the type of fan who never criticizes their fans, never holds them accountable for anything, and teaches them forever as if every day was their birthday. . It’s “cupcake,” and the Harry Styles fandom has many of them. It also features what Black fans call “KKK Harries” — white fans who refuse to concede any place in the fandom and prefer to pretend they are the only ones there.

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