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Progressive vs. Performative Activism

Progressive vs. Performative Activism

Author Samiah Rahman by

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Celia Jacobs

Whenever a tragedy happens, a lot of times we don't know how to effectively help- it’s time we educate ourselves to ensure a better future. What is performative activism and why is it wrong?

Performative Activism is when people use activism as a tool or for personal benefit, to appear as kind and socially aware to their peers without actually caring about the issue at hand. During the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of people, including celebrities were called out for appearing insensitive towards the issue by either staying silent on the matter or uploading ignorant posts that do not effectively help the movement. For example, instead of posting links to fundraisers or threads on how to stay safe, some celebrities posted pictures of the protests and called it a day. This endangers the protesters by revealing their identities and doesn't actually help the movement in any way. In the recent events of the Lebanon crisis, people would post videos of the explosion with emojis or bewildered remarks, which is very triggering and disrespectful to the people suffering from the tragedy. Instead, those who wish to help should post Red Cross donation links and spread knowledge about what’s going on.

Performative Activism:

  • Ignoring social issues because they don’t pertain to you
  • Overspeaking instead of uplifting minority voices
  • Having a mindset that “everyone appropriates and disrespects other cultures”- racism is in fact not condonable just because it has been engraved into our society for so long. It’s not acceptable just because it is a large part of our history.
  • Only posting and speaking about social issues when being called out for your silence
  • Speaking about a social issue to follow the trend and staying silent afterward

    Progressive Activism:

  • Educating yourself on social issues outside of your own
  • Being respectful towards another community’s customs without appropriating them
  • Confronting your family, friends, and peers for their ignorance, and dismantling your own implicit bias.
  • Boycott and call out racist influencers, brands, and artists on their continued racism.
  • Do your own research! Support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and their work. From educating yourself with different forms of media, such as books and articles, tv shows, music and art-you can become a more well-rounded person.

    Nobody is perfect, but what makes someone a more sympathetic and supportive person in a world full of racial injustice and systematic oppression is how we approach social issues and how we confront and question our society.

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