Norah Kanukolanu ‘23 and Tassneem Selman’23
I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard about Blackout Tuesday and seen the myriad of pictures that celebrities and teenagers posted with #BlackLivesMatter in their captions. This is not activism nor allyship, this is capitalizing off a movement fighting for people’s lives. Posting an Instagram infographic is the bare minimum. Instead, posters should know what the Black Lives Matter movement stands for and why.
This is a systemic and systematic issue that won’t stop after a few posts. White students on the Close need to take the time to understand what their black and brown classmates go through everyday. Their work is not done after posting a picture of themselves at a protest or posting a black square.
Although the Blackout Tuesday may have been well intentioned, the trend was incredibly harmful to the movement itself. The seemingly endless stream of black squares led to the obstruction of the #blm hashtag, which is a vital resource for BLM activists, as important and critical information regarding safety precautions for protests were virtually erased. The fact is, posting a black square was ineffective and dangerous. Black squares clogging up everyone’s feed did not advocate for police reform or justice. Instead, the black squares became the newest symbol of performative activism. Additionally, most people’s inspiration to post a black square did not stem from a want to help; but, instead because they saw all their friends doing it and participated in it as a trend.
Then there comes the issue of counter-protesting, which is the most detrimental to the movement. Protests such as Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter set America back. All Lives Matter is a prime example of white fragility. What All Lives Matter supporters seem to miss is an implied “too” at the end of Black Lives Matter. The difference between these two movements is the systemic racism within justice departments which marginalizes and hurts black communities. Blue Lives Matter folks seem to forget that a police officer can take off his uniform; but, a person of color cannot take off their skin.
People who only post black squares on their feeds need to take their activism further. Instead, people should donate to Black organizations, shop at Black-owned businesses, stand up when racism rears its ugly head, and most importantly educate themselves on Black issues and injustices in this country. It is not the responsibility of the Close’s black and brown students to educate their peers; instead, understand and empathize with the struggle they face daily. Get your information from more than one source and use it. And don’t hesitate to bring these difficult conversations to your family and friends. Someone who refuses to implement newfound education on racism in real-life environments is not an ally.
Black lives matter is not a trend. The Black struggle in America does not end once the momentum dies down. The Black struggle is an everyday battle that we must continue talking about or else change will never come.