What Do I Mean By This?
I mean do you practice performative allyship? Do you go out of your way to insert your allyship "accomplishments" into conversations with people of color?
Let's take it a step further do you even know what an Ally actually is? Or do you just consider yourself one because it sounds cool and it gets you out of actually learning about white privilege?
Now, this isn't just for white people so if you're of color and you feel that the Black Lives Matter movement either doesn't apply to you or you "just don't get it". But you made sure to post that square to your Instagram or Facebook? Then yes, you too, are a human blackout square.
So I'm here to remind you that this movement hasn't gone away, and actually it is now running side by side with another minority community's own movement.
The Asian American community has put its foot down and has decided that the days of silently taking abuse are over. The Stop Asian Hate movement and its justified relevance as well as its need for true allies is real and is not going away either.
At some point, all of us will be asking you, why you're still sitting on the sidelines.
Why Did We Post A Black Square?
What was the catalyst for the explosive movement in the summer and the blackout Tuesday square?
On February 23rd, 2020 Ahmaud Arbery was out jogging when three white men decided that literally hunting a Black man was okay. Travis McMichael and his father Gregory, and William "Roddie" Bryan, proceeded to chase, corral, and then murder Ahmaud.
On March 13th, 2020 Breonna Taylor was murdered as she lay sleeping in her bed. She was murdered by plain-clothed Louisville Metro Police Officers, who were serving a no-knock warrant. Her needless death occurred, even though the suspect had been apprehended hours earlier.
On May 5th, 2020 George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on George's neck for nearly 9 minutes. Even though George was handcuffed and not a threat, he continued to apply full body pressure. Onlookers tried to intervene, two other Officers were onsite and refused to allow them to administer help. During the last two minutes of Officer Chauvin kneeling on his neck, George had no pulse and was unresponsive. Even though the Officers were aware of this, they continued to deny rendering first aid and allowed him to die.
These three murders reignited a fuse on a bomb, that had been smoldering for hundreds of years. And in the wake of these three tragics deaths, millions of Americans along with millions of residents from countries around the world took to the streets to protest. These protests were designed to push back on Systemic Racism, the White Power structure, and the blatant killings of millions of Black people in this country.
Along with the protests on the ground, there were also thousands of online meetups, virtual marches, and information seminars. During that turbulent summer just as the marches and protests started to pick up steam and amidst Covid, a new movement came from the music industry. In late May, the Tuesday Blackout square hit the internet.
The Objective Of The Blackout Square
What was Blackout Tuesday?
Last weekend, two black women working in the music industry began a campaign asking the music industry, which they note “has profited predominantly from Black art”, to put its activities on hold for a day on Tuesday June 2.
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Using the hashtag #theshowmustbepaused, they began making their case by posting an image to Instagram of a black background and white text asking the music industry to pause and reflect on the ways it disenfranchises black employees.
The movement soon took off: as the week began, posts showing simple black squares quickly proliferated across social media. The hashtags varied, from the original #theshowmustbepaused to #blacklivesmatter and #blackouttuesday.
People everywhere jumped at a chance to show their solidarity for the BLM movement even though they were sequestered in their homes. Many people had wanted to march and protest along with the millions but for a multitude of reasons, they were unable to, due to Covid related issues or other restrictions.
So they saw this as an opportunity to show the world that they too did not support the hate and violence directed at the Black community.
By June 4th, there were already 28 million black squares posted to social media. This was turning out to be a major success.
But what people were not prepared for was how this beautiful show of solidarity would turn into a shining beacon for performative activism.
What Is Performative Activism?
Activism performed to gain social standing
Performative activism is when a person participates in an activist movement, not because he believes in the cause but because he wants to be popular. The phrase became popular in 2020 during the George Floyd protests when celebrities were accused of joining in to gain fans, instead of out of a genuine commitment.
This sounds shitty, right? Well, it is, and sadly millions of people do this on a regular basis.
With the black square, countless people participated because they truly wanted to add another way in which they could be a part of the advancement of the cause. Or they wanted to start their journey in activism.
But for thousands, probably millions of people, they found a way out of having to explain why they didn't participate, weren't up for conversations, didn't believe or downright didn't really give a shit, and were not interested in ever giving a shit.
They treated the blackout square like it was the golden ticket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and it was their way out of actual growth.
So these people made sure to post their square, show their friends and pat themselves on the back for their donation to the BLM cause.
But the problem was, they never did more. They didn't participate in marches or online groups. They read no books and watched no movies. Yet and still they felt secure in the fact that they had done their part.
I'm not immune to having people like this in my life.
I have a few people in my social media feed that played the part of wanting to know more and do more. They reached out, asked me questions, and regardless of the emotional strain I was under, I was happy to oblige. I found movies for them to watch, gave them books to read, and marches to participate in.
And once I imparted the small bit of wisdom I had, I felt secure in the knowledge that they would do at least one of those things. Because why would they ask if they weren't interested?
Unfortunately, it wasn't until later that they had done none of these things. Instead, they were waiting to take the easy way out but it just hadn't presented itself yet.
Instead what they did was sit around ignoring what was going on until the opportunity to post a little black square came, and they jumped all over it. Then as expected once that was done, all the talk about wanting to do more went by the wayside.
They would say all the right things when I would reach out to see how it was going. What I didn't know was the movies had gone unwatched, the marches and protests had been unattended. The worst part about it was, and still is; the fact that they are so oblivious to the hurt that they caused, to those in their lives that this movement meant everything.
To this day they pretend to care and they still reach out like everything is fine.
But Do We Give Up?
For those of us that are doing our part to make sure this fight is not forgotten and not just a small footnote in some University's history book. We keep on going even when we know it's falling on deaf ears.
Now I can't tell you how to handle your current or future interactions with people like that. But I can say that as long as they are not made aware of their blatant disregard for a group that truly needs their help, they never will.
So do we let them wait until something happens to their community for us to say a nice "I told you so"? For some people, I would say yes, they're not worth the effort. For others, if you truly think they are worth the effort, a gentle nudge a few times every couple of weeks or once a month might be what they need. And what's a few moments of your time in the grand scheme of things?
Most minorities that are under the thumb of white supremacy, have been waiting for generations for someone outside of their community to care. They'll be happy if in a few more months thousands or maybe even millions of people wake up and give a shit. This I promise you.
Don't Be A Square - Be Better
If what I'm saying makes you feel a little uncomfortable I think it's time to take stock of what you have done during the Black Lives Matter movement and the new movement to Stop Asian
That feeling of discomfort is more than likely due to the fact that you know you could do more, and be better. But you chose to rest on your one minimal contribution of posting one shitty ass square on your fucking timeline.
(This right here is how little some of you cared)
If you say well, I've posted some hashtags and made sure to have discussions with like-minded people about Black Lives Matter or Anti-Asian Hate. Then honestly, what you've done is for you and not for the minorities hoping people with privilege do something to help them.
Because believe me if we could do this all on our own, we wouldn't be in the streets during a pandemic asking you to care. And that's the problem, while we're in the streets, in the chat rooms, screaming on social media, having conversations that are draining and emotionally taxing simply to have this world wake up and say "No More!". You're feeling pretty good about your itty bitty contribution.
So while we're doing that, you're ignoring the fact that without your help and your effort, we will never be free.
UNTIL ALL OF US DEMAND EQUITY - ONLY SOME OF US WILL HAVE IT