Black Lives Matter is Not a Trend: How Performative Activism Does More Harm Than Good

Over the past few weeks we have seen an uproar amongst many people in the world as it pertains to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Floyd, 46, was killed by four police officers over an accusation of a counterfeit bill. Taylor, 26, was killed when police officers wrongfully knocked down her door while not announcing themselves, despite Taylor repeatedly asking them to. Arbery, 25, was killed while jogging in a predominately white conservative neighborhood. All three victims were Black, and all three were killed without any justifiable cause.

This has led to a huge turnout for the Black Lives Matter Movement. Protests are happening across the world not only for justice for the three victims, but for police reform and some type of initiatives to protect the lives of Black people. The amount of support that the movement has garnered over the past few weeks has been heartwarming, however there seems to be an imbalance of genuine support and allyship with performative activism. 

Let’s start with what performative activism is. To be considered someone who is participating in performative activism you would be considered an individual that takes it upon yourself to participate in a protest of any kind just for the sake of notoriety, instead of raising awareness for the cause. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • JUST posting a black screen on your feed with the words “muted” and “#blackouttuesday”.
  • Showing up to a protest just to take photos.
  • Or showing up with sexually suggestive signs such as, “I want mixed kids, stop killing black men”.

It is absolutely irresponsible and contributes absolutely nothing to the cause. A protest is not the time to come in your Fashion Nova’s best and pose with a sign. Stop supporting corporate consumerist brands and instead focus on supporting Black-owned fashion brands and brands that focus on decolonising fashion.

Black lives matter protest
Diet Prada calls out Russian influencer Kris Schatzel on Instagram for performative activism.

Speak up, protect Black protesters and do not go there to stir trouble just to turn around and place the blame on black protestors. Showing up to be an “ally” when in reality, you just want to loot, is also an example of performative activism and has given the media a way to perpetuate a false negative narrative that the protests are just for people to raid and steal from businesses.

What is also alarming is the fact that many people who did consider themselves “allies” have stopped with their posts and protests due to the fact that the four officers involved in the murder of George Floyd have been charged. Breonna Taylor has yet to receive any justice. Katera Jenkins has yet to receive any justice. Sean Reed has yet to receive any justice. Tamir Rice has yet to receive any justice. Kendrick Johnson has yet to receive any justice.

It is the time to use your voice and if you are non-Black, use YOUR privilege, and contribute to the cause. Just saying that “Black Lives Matter” on your Instagram feed will do absolutely nothing but garner some likes for your page. Use your voice and spread awareness by signing petitions, donating to bail funds, donating to Black people in need and educating those around you on Black Lives Matter and why it is important. Use this time to encourage those around you to also vote. There are more elections out there than the presidential one. Vote for your local campaigns as well so there can be change throughout the nation. 

Black Lives Matter is not some “trend”, it is not a fad that is going to go away in the next few weeks because Black people have been treated wrong and killed for no reason for hundreds of years. Do not treat this as a trend, and if you do in fact just view it as a way to garner attention to your feed, then just shut up. Do not speak up at all, it does more harm to the movement than good. 

Below are digital art pieces contributed by Kimberly Jimenez. They contain links to petitions and donation sites that you can contribute to. Now more than ever let’s continue to be proactive and create some type of change.

ahmaud arbery black lives matter
justice for ahmaud arbery
Breonna taylor black lives matter
breonna taylor petitions for black lives matter
george floyd black lives matter
justice for george floyd

Words by Jonathan Chandler @jonathanchandler_

Artwork by Kimberly Jimenez @kloudkim

Jonathan Chandler

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