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Op-ed

Stop Using #BlackLivesMatter As An Instagram Trend

Over the last few days, the world went into a massive uproar as a black man named George Floyd was choked to death by four Minneapolis policemen. Since the incident, all four of those policemen have been sacked and Derek Chauvin, who was shown in footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck on Monday, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder.

Since this incident, the entirety of America has gone into protest mode as riots are breaking out in Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis, among other places. The entire world has been standing in solidarity as people — celebrities included — have hoarded all social media platforms demanding justice for George Floyd and trending #BlackLivesMatter for the past week, spreading any and all information that they can. This has also given birth to a trend that started on Instagram on Saturday.

The Ten Accounts BLM Challenge trend.

The challenge essentially includes people mass tagging ten accounts on their Instagram stories to show that they “support” the Black Lives Matter movement and are urging those accounts to do the same and tag ten more, thereby creating a chain. An example of the same is in the tweet below.

It is very performative in that it is being used by a lot of people as a cop-out, as if to say, “Look I posted this challenge and therefore I’m not racist.” A lot of these accounts haven’t spoken a word about the whole incident/movement ever since it began and seem to be thinking that just posting this challenge is enough. To be perfectly honest, this challenge serves no purpose whatsoever. It gives us no actual information, and frankly, anyone who is doing this challenge — although with good intentions — is just being lazy. You cannot just post that one story for 24 hours and say, “Alright, that’s enough activism for today.” That is not how this works. There are real lives at stake here.

This whole challenge is trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement into a trend, which is the last thing anyone needs right now. This isn’t a trend. This isn’t a bandwagon you can hop on just so you don’t look racist. It serves no purpose and makes you look cheap and lazy — especially if that is the only thing you’ve done. Another thing I have noticed is some white beauty influencers and makeup artists doing Black Lives Matter “inspired” makeup. I cannot even begin to explain how tone-deaf that looks.

Murder isn’t a makeup look. Using the movement for clout purposes is extremely insensitive, as racial injustice and murder should not be used for your own personal profit. This movement is NOT about you.

Instead of making useless performative Instagram trends and insensitive makeup looks, these people should use their platform to spread awareness and sign petitions. Spread links and donate money. Show that they are standing in solidarity with the people affected by this tragedy – with the Black Lives Matter movement. This applies especially to celebrities. Just posting a picture of a hashtag on social media isn’t enough. Don’t take the easy way out. You have a platform; use it. Show us that you’re donating money where necessary, that you’re using your privilege to stand up for those who can’t say the same. Educate yourself and the people around you.

If you see someone being racist, call them out. Educate them. Read up about anything and everything that you can. Keep up with the news. We have been silent for far too long and this isn’t the time to be lazy or be quiet. If you’re at a place where protests are happening, try to attend them, and if you cannot, go and help people by providing food, drinks, and medical aid. Every little thing helps. Sitting behind a phone screen and tagging 10 accounts in the name of activism doesn’t. If you are in a position of privilege, use it to help others. If you are a public figure or a celebrity, publicly demonstrate actual tangible support — make donations, sign and circulate petitions.

Here are some petitions and links where you can sign or donate:

The link to sign a petition to demand justice for George Floyd is here.

The link to donate to the George Floyd Memorial fund is here.

The link to sign a petition to raise the murder charge degree is here.

Use your platform to amplify black voices and have conversations about race and everything that is happening right now. Share resources. Stop treating Black Lives Matter like a trend for clout or followers or monetary gain. It is not a trend – and it is definitely not a money-making gimmick. It is a movement. And it is about damn time people start treating it like one.

Photo: dole777 via Unsplash

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Written By

I’m a 19 year old Journalism student from Mumbai currently studying in the United Kingdom. A certified feminist, I’m not afraid to express my opinions. I stand up for what I believe in and fight for the voices that cannot. I love to read books and binge watch movies and tv shows and keep up to date with pop culture. Listening to music is my go-to comfort idea. I’m also an avid cricket fan and love a good game of badminton.

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