Monday, September 28, 2020
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PERFORMATIVE ACTIVISM

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WHY IT IS NOT FOR YOU

Right now America is experiencing a huge amount of racial turmoil started by a multitude of killings of black men and women by police across the country. The deaths of these fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters have devastated the black community, and people are once again demanding equal justice for every American citizen regardless of their skin color. With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, protests and demonstrations are being held to demand change within the judicial and police systems. 

Though some people are attending these protests with beautifully written signs and articulate chants, others are online donating, signing petitions, and spreading awareness. The movement needs as much attention and additional support as possible. The only issue is that not everybody supports this movement for the right reasons. Some people simply want the positive effects of supporting such a worthy fight. I am mostly talking about those who post a series of photos of themselves at a BLM rally, simply to say they were there. This weak form of “support” is known as performative activism. This type of activism is done simply for how one’s contribution looks to their desired audience or demographic. Posting a black square on Instagram is a great example of performative activism. 

Ask yourself: Am I truly adding to the movement in a positive way? If the honest answer  is not “yes,” then the action is most likely performative. I think it is incredibly easy to fall into the trap of performative activism. Usually, trends on social media that all of your friends participate and tag you in are huge parts of this idea. I find it hard to step away from these trends, to acknowledge their ineffectiveness. These trends rarely benefit any part of the movement and often take away from the main message and goals of the organization. 

Below, a picture of Madison Beer at an organized photo shoot during a BLM protest is shown. Her inability to separate her desire for a good reputation from a genuine wish to help the black community makesher a proponent of performative activism. Her reasoning for doing this photo shoot was not to help those fighting in protests for the BLM movement. Madison Beer’s reasoning was to make sure people knew she was doing the “right” or “good” thing which is why it is purely performative.

In order to induce change and spread awareness, the perpetuation of significant movements must be efficient and well thought out. Without authentic sharing of information and genuine support of a mission, seemingly-helpful activism just becomes performative and essentially useless. If you want to be a part of the solution, do not only voice your support when you think it will positively affect you. Do not encourage people to vote so you can increase your Facebook Likes for Twitter retweets. Spread awareness and make a change because you wish to see a change for Black Americans everywhere.

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