Let’s talk about performative solidarity.
While it’s great that you all are speaking out about how terrible the current climate is right now, we need to go over a few things that you should be aware of. If you’ve never spoken out about police brutality, white supremacy, and racial injustice please be aware that your postings are being viewed as performative.
If you have not addressed your own white supremacy and made a hard stand on where you plan to vote this November, whether you’ve mentioned it publicly or not, your solidarity is performative and is most likely a momentary bandwagon approach to self-preservation. While it’s great to see you start your journey on addressing the inhumane ways black people are being treated in this county you love so much, it’s extremely important that you continue to do the work through actions.
If you’re just now in the streets joining the protests, please understand that it does NOT stop there. If you do stop here, you’re putting on a show and all we are all watching. Things are coming to a head and you can no longer remain neutral. But you can also no longer get by doing the bare minimum and expect to not get called on it.
If you fear you’re not able to find the right words to say, check your intentions. Are you afraid you’re damned if you do/don’t or are you afraid you’re going to piss off your white peers or lose friends and business?
If you do decide to post, do you center yourself? Do you make these things about you and your whiteness? Have you centered other people’s trauma around how you’re processing this?
Here are a few things you can do to make sure your solidarity is an action and not a performance.
- Do the work. Read the resources on anti-blackness and white supremacy. Sit with yourself and really dig deep, asking yourself the tough questions. Acknowledge your privilege in a way that is different from how you normally view the word privilege. And when you feel like you’ve bottomed out, do more work. Because you need to remove your guilt and just start your action.
- Don’t ask black and brown people to educate you for free. Understand that this is emotional labor. Black and brown people are living through the trauma of fearing for their lives. Living the trauma of seeing other people who look like them slain at worst, casually discriminated against at least. So asking black and brown people to educate you is asking them to continue to relive experiences that are deeply hurting. Compensate them. Or just ask your white peers for assistance.
- Don’t center yourself. Listen. We get it. It’s human nature to want to acknowledge your experiences, but know that this isn’t about you. Remove yourself from this and acknowledge that others’ pain can be prioritized over your hurt feelings. This is basic human rights we’re discussing. Or even life or death. Whether you admit it or not, you have a privilege that allows you to disconnect from this.
- Don’t doxx people of color who are doing the work, helping you, or helping others. Your peers are dangerous. Your community is dangerous. Our lives are not valued.
- When you get called out, just listen. Don’t come back with a gazillion buts. Don’t become defensive. Don’t become combative. Don’t revert back to your tendencies to victimize and center yourself, because listen… we will leave you behind at best. And don’t
- Did I mention do the work? I did. But I’m saying it again. Take diversity and inclusion training. Read diversity and inclusion books. Take sensitivity training. Read books and take classes that address your relationship to white supremacy. We all have a relationship with it. But if you’re white or have proximity to whiteness your relationship is a lot more personal and could be more harmful to your black and brown peers.
- Understand there’s more to racism and white supremacy than what you consider overt. There are subtleties to microaggressions that you need to acknowledge and address. So yeah, again… do the work.
- Call out your friends and family members. And do it publicly. Do it consistently. And do it overtly with intent. You can’t truly care about what’s going on if you’re still allowing your peers to be harmful and willfully blind. Doing the work is also active. Not just research.
- Make genuine connections with black and brown people. And not because they’re black or brown. Do it because you find a genuine interest in them. Do it because you find similarities otherwise, you’re using them and turning them into tokens.
- Vote in favor of humanity. Your neutrality or self-serving voting will not fly anymore. You have to vote in favor of your best interests as a human being. You can no longer be a part of the 53%. You can no longer be a part of the 70%. Your actions on private are far more important than what you do when everyone is watching.
- Just keep growing, learning, and doing the work. Things won’t change overnight. You have to keep doing the work. It’ll change something inside of you. And we will all be better for it.