Performative Activism Has Got to Stop.
We are living in a time of civil unrest. Black people are getting murdered because of the color of their skin in broad daylight. Black people are dying at the hands of white supremacy and police brutality, creating a sense of unrest and uncertainty of what can be done in the future. With all of this going on in the Black community, one thing that we do not need is “allies” doing performative activism to pretend that they care enough about what is happening. There is no time for people to act like they are trying to help out the community when in actuality they are just trying to gain more followers on social media. In this piece you will be seeing examples of performative activism, what it means, and how you can actually help with the Black Lives Matter movement amongst being a part of creating a change for the Black community and other BIPOC. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and unfortunately more Black bodies deserve to have people rally behind them to continue the fight to end racism and oppression, not for people to be silent and complacent in what is happening and abandoning the movement.
Examples of performative activism-
Performative activism is when you are doing activism to increase your social capital rather than actually being devoted to the cause that you are pretending to care about. It is overall sustained by public consumption. Posting a black screen on your Instagram and then moving on with your life like nothing is happening. Saying Black Lives Matter, but not taking the time to actually give Black workers resources and support. We see this on a lot of platforms that we know and love such as some of your favorite shows that do not have Black writers writing for Black characters which means that they aren’t writing from their point of view. Not having people who know how to do hair and makeup for Black people. Something that I have experienced is being Black while attending UC Berkeley, predominately white and Asian American school, where I get bombarded with emails about how this institution is going to prevent anti-blackness, yet there are barely more than 1,000 Black students on our campus. These are all examples of performative activism that has been going on these last few months, but also for years. All this is showing is that you can be all talk and no action. But what can you do to change this?
What you can do!
The good news is that if you have caught yourself being a performative ally by no means does that mean that you can’t educate yourself and grow from it. There are many ways that you can read up on petitions and sign them if you haven’t done so already from Black Lives Matter Petitions . Since we are in quarantine another way you can educate yourself is by reading texts from numerous authors that marvel and examine around racial injustice and dismantling these systems Understanding and Dismantling Racism . The point is there are numerous ways that you can be an actual ally and taking the steps to understand why this is so important. I leave you with something to think about: Don’t ignore something simply because it makes you uncomfortable.
#Dear Community is an initiative by SRA to spread awareness about social justice issues, particularly related to the Black Lives Matter movement. This student-voiced series will consist of articles, videos, and other forms of media that our students want to share regarding their personal experiences, why the movement matters to them, and their journeys of growing through unlearning/learning/re-