With the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement (especially over Twitter), a new form of white “allyship” has emerged along with it… and it’s not necessarily for the better. Not to say that us white allies have been all that great in the past, but this isn’t particularly a step in the right direction.
White people who are claiming to be “activists” are now taking to Twitter to be… well, “activists.” Yet the very act of being a “Twitter activist” is an oxymoron; how are they supposed to bring change if all they do is send out the occasional tweet in support of a cause? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advocating for worthy causes and movements (especially the Black Lives Matter movement), but when white “activists” literally do the bare minimum for a movement yet receive praise for their “activism” is when this becomes a problem.
This happens far too often, too. Within the Black Lives Matter movement, so many Black activists fight vigorously against police brutality and white supremacy day in and day out. Yet one white girl can tweet “racism is bad” and be met with hundreds of tweets like “wow, she’s woke!” as if she magically ended racism. How can some Becky be given more recognition for typing up a sentiment when true activists are placed in the background? Simply put, white privilege. And this praise causes various issues amongst movements. To use Black Lives Matter as an example again, when we praise white people for doing the very least for the BLM movement, they are given the power to speak over Black people on Black issues.
We have to restrain from spotlighting white “allies” in the frame of a movement that’s not even for them, especially when they’re not doing anything spectacular to assist the progression of the movement.
This praise of the bare minimum also waters down activism as a whole. How is our society supposed to progress when activism is defined as a simple advocation/realization? Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate the power of social media, but activism needs to be defined as going out into our communities and making a difference.
We have this weird, innate inclination to reward white people for simply noticing an issue in our society. But it’s time for us to stop this praise of the bare minimum and begin praising true activism. As a white person, I’m pleading to everyone to stop praising us for doing literally nothing. While I acknowledge there are white activists who do actually help, don’t put them in the spotlight of a movement like Black Lives Matter — spotlight the people who the movement is for. We have to stop this unnecessary praise because it creates white people into content and apathetic bigots when it comes to injustices.