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  • Khristina Raglin

The Sudden Rise of Black Support: Is It Genuine?

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Performative activism floods the streets and social media feeds.


Protest in Clayton, Missouri. May 2020. Picture by Khristina Raglin.

After the tragic events of George Floyd back in May of 2020, there has been a rise of non-black BlackLivesMatter (BLM) supporters across social media platforms. The unjust murder seemed to shake the entire world to its core, with protests sprouting from the United States all the way to Ireland. While the massive support has been amazing to see, there are many people whose motives are questionable behind this sudden activism.


Many of these “supporters” have contributed to what’s known as performative activism, which is activism done in order to increase one’s social media following rather than one’s devotion to a cause. You may have seen this type of activism yourself, such as a friend on Instagram having “BLM” in their bio but never speaking or posting anything related to the racial issues happening. Many seem to just follow along like it’s a trend or because they want to display a positive image.


A few white women have been caught on video doing this by posing in front of boarded or damaged storefronts. These videos, being a pure example of performative activism, sparked backlash. Twitter user efortheloss comments,

“The problem here is that she’s, one, using this terrible situation to promote herself instead of the man who’s actually helping and, two, completely insensitive to racial/class tensions. Influencers: use your platform for ACTUAL good, not the PERCEPTION of good”.

Others have been caught on video damaging property while black protestors tell them to stop. One woman recorded two white women spray painting “BLM” on a Starbucks. After being confronted, the two women appear careless about their actions even after being explained the issue. “Don’t spray stuff on here when they’re gonna blame black people for doing this!” the woman shouts, name unknown. We can see that many are just agitators looking for their moment in a real-life Purge movie.


Other examples include #blackouttuesday. On Tuesday, June 2 of 2020, millions of black squares flooded Instagram with the caption #blackouttuesday. The purpose was to stand in solidarity with the black community. For many people, that was it. That was their form of support. No links, no signed petitions, and no donations. They simply posted and moved on, which is an example of privilege. Acknowledging the issue when you feel and then turning a blind eye while black people are forced to face the trauma daily. Some even deleted their black squares after a while. Even today, the hashtag is filled with random photos like selfies, cars, and artwork, which don’t correlate to the movement whatsoever. The entire cause has been erased from existence.


However, individuals aren’t the only ones trying to show how woke they are. Companies are contributing as well.“They’re realizing that if we don’t engage in this, we’re gonna look bad,” says Jason Carter on YouTube video A Message To Corporate America, “Performative Activism” Is NOT ENOUGH. The video discusses companies taking part in the movement by removing racist caricatures, like Quaker Oats Company Aunt Jemima and Mars Incorporated’s Uncle Ben. In the midst of the movement, these companies now decide that it's time to change? Why wasn’t this changed years ago? There’s also the question of whether actual black people complained to these companies that they wanted this change or the companies themselves changing in order to fit in.


Many are doing the bare minimum and are celebrated for it. Putting “BLM” in bios, changing profile pictures to black fists, and sharing a few links takes no effort. Real effort and allyship is seen through uplifting black voices, having uncomfortable conversations with family members and coworkers, supporting black businesses, etc. There is genuineness behind the action with no ulterior motive.


It’s unsettling to see many partake in the movement simply because others are. They are making the many black deaths that have caused trauma within the black community look trendy. Black Lives Matter is not a trend nor will it ever be. It is a movement against police brutality, racial profiling, and other forms of racial violence towards black people. Black lives matter, always and forever.


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