Marjorie Taylor Greene’s co-opting of #SayHerName is egregious, but white people do this all the time


They want our rhythm, but not our blues. 

I say that a lot in my writing because a lot of my writing highlights the many ways in which (some) white people trip over themselves to co-opt and flat-out steal ideas, phrases, content, dances, music, and anything else Black people have. It is a founding principle of this country; it began with the enslavement and forced labor/wage theft of Black people in the 1600s. 

These days, it takes on forms both big and “small” (small is doing a lot, from commercial ad campaigns for skincare companies to Keith Olbermann running the phrase “Bye, Felicia” into the ground to the author who gets a huge book contract writing stories about predominantly Black characters using stereotypical Black tropes — and it’s later revealed she’s a white woman (she tried to explain herself, but …). 

Marjorie Taylor Greene showing up to the State of the Union address on Thursday evening wearing full MAGA regalia and a T-shirt with “Say Her Name” emblazoned across the front is the latest example of white people going too far when it comes to stealing things from Black people. 

#SayHerName was coined in 2015 by Kimberlé Crenshaw — co-founder and executive director of the African American Policy Institute. Crenshaw, who is a civil rights activist and law professor, coined the phrase after the “mysterious” death of Sandra Bland — a Black woman motorist who died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody after a questionable traffic stop in Texas. 

Crenshaw told the Associated Press this week that the point behind #SayHerName was to “break the silence around Black women, girls, and femmes whose lives have been taken by police.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene wasn’t wearing her shirt to uplift the name of a Black woman, however. She was wearing it to further politicize the death of nursing student Laken Riley, who was killed in Georgia. The undocumented status of the man accused of killing her has become a hot-button talking point for those on the right who want to criticize President Joe Biden and his border policies. 

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s co-opting of #SayHerName is egregious, but white people do this all the time