Apple Black Unity Watch Divides Us

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On February first, in honor of Black History Month, Apple will release the Apple Black Unity Watch. It’s inspired by the Pan-African flag, constructed in shades of black, green and red. Apple’s Chinese suppliers laser engraved the words “Truth, Power and Solidarity” onto the interior of the stainless steel fastening pin (a.k.a., caseback). Apple will donate an unspecified percentage of the proceeds from Apple Black Unity Watch sales to . . .

Black Lives Matter Support Fund (via the Tides Foundation,) European Network Against RacismInternational Institute on Race, Equality and Human RightsLeadership Conference Education FundNAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. and Souls Grown Deep.

The Black Lives Matter Support Fund is troublesome. Regardless of your take on the BLM movement, some see BLM as a danger to American ideals. By funneling money to the organization Apple runs the risk of alienating millions of potential buyers. More than that, it identifies Apple as a political entity, a company that chooses sides.

Apple Black Unity watch side viewDon’t get me wrong. I’m all for truth, power and solidarity. Solidarity across racial, national, ethnic, cultural, sexual and any other “self identity” category you can name. I completely embrace embracing your whateverness in whatever way you want – as long as you tolerate, accept, support and yes celebrate people who don’t share your affiliation.

On the face of it (so to speak), the Apple Black Unity Watch is part of that celebration. But it opens the door to questions about Apple’s commitment to equality (not equity).

An Apple Watch targeted at and for a particular ethnic group begs the question, what about other self-identified communities? Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, straights, furries, etc. Where do you draw the line?

ABU caseback

What about a Jewish Unity Watch? A Hispanic Unity Watch? A LGBTQ+ Unity Watch? Why not? On one hand, an affiliation-targeted Apple Watch celebrates diversity. On the other hand, it encourages division. Not only does its existence separate buyers into subcategories, it does so publicly.

How will a black person view a white person wearing a Apple Black Unity Watch? How would a Hispanic-identified person view a non-Hispanic person wearing a [theoretical] Hispanic Unity Watch? As a supporter of their “cause” or as someone practicing cultural appropriation? Why get into this in the first place?

ABU message

Rightly or wrongly, before Apple deleted Parler from their App store, consumers considered the world’s most valuable company apolitical. And something more: a corporation that unifies all people inside its walled garden. Even a brief visit to an Apple Store confirms it: their products appeal across all demographic groups.

The technology giant’s decision to throw its entire weight behind Black History Month – App Store, Music, Maps, TV, News, Books, Podcasts, Fitness+ and Watch – hives off one particular group. By doing so Apple marginalizes non-Black consumers (where’s the white hand?), however inadvertently, no matter how laudable their intentions. The Apple Black Unity Watch is the physical embodiment of that marginalization.

Apple Black Unity Watch head-on

Watches created and sold to benefit a particular group (e.g., the Timex + Tom Snyder Gay Pride watch) or charity (e.g., the Oris Carl Brashear) run the risk of being seen as virtue signaling, combined with cynical commercial exploitation. A watch that supports BLM, explicitly entering a highly charged political arena, crosses a new line. To my mind the Apple Black Unity Watch is anything but unifying. It’s divisive. Am I wrong?

13 COMMENTS

  1. I predict these will be scooped up in droves by upper class white people, shown off proudly to the approval of their Instagram and TikTok “followers/audience/whatever,” and then quickly replaced with whatever the next material good they think will make them happy for the next 0.783 seconds of their lives.

  2. I’m not super big on any of these cause watches, but embracing the significant parts of BLM that overlap is the biggest opportunity Libertarians and Constitutional Conservatives have in a generation to pull in black voters.

    Libertarians, CATO, and Reason were for making the police accountable, defunding the police, ending Civil Asset Forfeiture, and drug legalization/decriminalization well before BLM.

    Nobody knows Reagan’s mantra that “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” to be true better than a black person that has to deal with the police and other government “workers.”

    The commie sideline stuff does not have a chance (the closest we are getting is an idea that started with a “Republican” that there should be $2,000 welfare checks for certain income groups), and isn’t even consistent with the main reform goals. Commies love a well funded police state. Apple sure does not support the commie part.

      • This idea that private entities should be forced to publish certain materials is communist/fascist, and is certainly not what freedom of speech means.

        Parler is free to pursue contractual disputes.

    • There is no constituency for what CATO has to offer. To paraphrase Curtis Yarvin: “Nobody understands Marx. But anyone can learn how to parrot Marx. And if that individual or group can parrot Marx effectively enough, that individual or group gets to control the levers of power in society. But what does a libertarian get from successfully implementing his political beleifs? Philosophical satisfaction?”

  3. How do you feel about Apple’s (PRODUCT)RED line? Supports a single cause, and it’s been a thing for quite a while.

    • If I want to support a “cause” or charity, why do I need a middleman? A middleman that uses the social credit as marketing? If there is a cause I feel is worthy of my support, I can donate directly. Why would I enable corporate virtue signaling and passing on social credit?

      • Well … Apple pretty prominently supports two causes via “badged” products. This post only complains about one of them and the other isn’t even mentioned.

  4. I completely agree with you. Those colours are those also sported on the Palestinian flag, which is waved enthusiastically when pro Palestininan demonstrators harass Jews and chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, meaning the elimination of the state of Israel. The manifesto of Black Lives Matter is full of horrendous and highly tendentious statements about the supposed evils of capitalism, the ubiquity of white supremacy and the demand to defund the police. What strikes me as dire is Apple virtuously embracing black identity politics whilst having the watches manufactured by very low paid Chinese workers in Communist China. Of course, it gave the project to black designers and they’ve made an excellent job of it. It’s a most attractive product. But then I was one of millions of young people in the early 70s who sported Mao blue jackets— they were seen as a really cool thing to wear then. Ditto keffiyehs, also in romantic deference to the Palestinian cause, without the need to scrutinise its antisemitism and use of street murders to advance the cause. Really, however beautiful the watch is, and however much it appears to put Apple in a politically virtuous position (which incidentally it shares with that other enlightened advancer of radical politics tied to brilliant luxury product marketing, Vogue), it’s just so much nail varnish. Black, green and red nail varnish…..

    • Thanks for the comment. You’re a good writer with something to say. How about writing for us? There are perks… My email’s o the home page.

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