Apparently, if you’re an icon of the African-American community who doesn’t stand in solidarity with the rioters, you risk being #canceled.
The New York Times published a scathing story against Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh headlined “The Virgil Abloh Backlash.” Authors Vanessa Friedman and Elizabeth Paton wrote: “Mr. Abloh was initially cheered as a pioneer and a symbol of progress, and held up by many as a role model.”
They continued later, adding: “[A]s the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer spurred anguished waves of Black Lives Matter protests and riots across the United States, Mr. Abloh became for some a symbol of a different kind: disappointment.”
The apparent reason for the discontent? Abloh spoke out against rioting and looting.
The Times proceeded to say that “a chunk of social media — the communications tool that he mastered and used to build his empire — especially a chunk from the subculture of Black Twitter, began to take sledgehammers to the pedestal on which he had been placed.”
The Times broke down the lefty ire against Abloh for his posts “on Instagram Stories,” which “chastised looters for damaging businesses to which he had a connection. He began with a familiar topic: the notion that ‘streetwear is dead.’”
One post, according to The Times, involved a photo “depicting smashed artwork amid broken glass at the Fat Tiger workshop in Chicago.” The photo was captioned by Abloh, according to The Times: “‘Our own communities, our own shops … this shop was built with blood sweat and tears.’”
Another post was a comment to a video showing the wreckage of a destroyed Los Angeles Round Two vintage shop by Round Two owner Sean Wotherspoon. Abloh responded: “You see the passion blood sweat and tears Sean puts in for our culture. This disgusts me.”
To the kids that ransacked his store and RSVP DTLA, and all our stores in our scene just know, that product staring at you in your home/ apartment right now is tainted and a reminder of a person I hope you aren’t. We’re apart of a culture together. Is this what you want?? When you walk past him in the future please have the dignity to not look him in the eye, hang your head in shame....
The Times conceded briefly that “Some people applauded Mr. Abloh’s message.” It then immediately pivoted back to its baseless criticism of Abloh:
But the series of posts soon triggered a fiery online debate over his contribution to the black community and wider global conversations about contemporary fashion and culture, including the commodification of the civil rights struggles of African-Americans.
One of Abloh’s posts, said The Times, showed that he had contributed $50 “to a Miami art collective called Fempower” to assist with the legal expenses of arrested protesters. The Times noted that many on Twitter disapproved:
Twitter swiftly took exception to the amount of the donation, with scores of users pointing out that most of Mr. Abloh’s products cost multiples of that number.”
The Times then plastered three tweets of Twitter users seething at Abloh for donating only $50, before touting how Abloh’s Wikipedia page had been altered to attack him. By contrast, the newspaper showed no tweets supporting Abloh’s sentiment.
The newspaper linked out to a random Twitter user who took a snapshot of Abloh’s Wikipedia page, which had reportedly altered his name to read: “Virgil ‘Cheap Ass’ Abloh.”