#blackouttuesday and performative allyship

Hello! I posted about this on Instagram and thought I would flesh out my thoughts here as well. What I found perplexing and quite frankly insulting about blackout Tuesday, was that most people who posted a black square on their social media have always been silent (and complicit) when it comes to anti-blackness. How does taking the time to do something that requires no effort to reaffirm that you will, on this specific Tuesday, continue to be silent in situations of racial injustice do anything to combat anti-blackness? That’s one.

Two is its origin. In light of the most recent murders of Black people at the hands of the state, #blackouttuesday meant taking a stance on the racism and inequality that exist within and outside of the music industry also known as #TheShowMustBePaused : a movement lead by Atlantic Records. Mind you, Atlantic Records, a division of Warner Music corporations, is a multi-billion-dollar white-owned company that owns the rights to the music produced by their artists. How can an industry that holds the royalties to the work of so many Black artists say that they are taking a stance against systemic racism by sharing a black square on social media and spending the day to reflect?? Surely, taking a stance on systemic racism could mean that they give Black artists the rights to their music? Taking a stance on systemic oppression could also mean that they stop producing music from non-black artists who culturally appropriate Black culture/AAVE? Or it could even mean redistributing wealth within their corporation. There are so many actual steps that they could have taken, but instead they chose to do the thing that required the least amount of effort and required 0 accountability because these shows of support are not rooted in anything real, they are ~performative~.

Lastly, #blackouttuesday rubbed me the wrong way because Black people have had no choice but to talk about racial justice and we have been losing opportunities and risking our lives/livelihoods because of it. And still, rather than join us in this fight, many white people (and NBPOC) chose to mute their account for a day. We have implored for decades, centuries even for white people to dismantle white supremacy, to recognize our humanities, and our calls have always been ignored. Yet, when “standing with Black people” becomes a trend on social media, people hop on the bandwagon and vow to stay silent for a day and do some research about anti-blackness. For. A. Day. Do you realize how insulting that is? I first learned about colorism/racism when I was 4 and I have experienced/felt anti-blackness every day since. That means I have spent over 7, 000 days learning how to survive in this white supremacist world through experience and education and you mean to tell me that you decided to dedicate a day. A singular day. And then what?

Call for accountability

I suggested that people do #reportbackwednesday to share their learnings from #blackouttuesday. Most of my acquaintances ignored the call for accountability and they have since been removed from my life because allyship without accountability is a performance I have no time for. On the other hand, I was pleased to see that the few people who had always treated me with respect and care (old classmates, instructors, colleagues, and old bosses) did correct their behaviors and are doing the work. It’s no coincidence that the people who have held space for me in the past were the same people who answered the call for self-reflection: they have a real desire to do better by me and my people so it wasn’t a performance to them. While I am happy that my circle is filled with people (Black and not) who have an interest in calling out whiteness and unlearning their anti-blackness, it came as no surprise to me because I have never tolerated any form of anti-blackness amongst my peers and I called it out if ever I witnessed it. This 0 tolerance for anti-blackness and racism should be the norm – not the exception. If it were the norm, we may not be in this mess, but I digress..

What’s next?

As Black people, we are so used to settling for crumbs (because that’s all we’ve ever gotten), but there is an entire slice of the pie that is owed to us and it can be ours if we work as a society toward it. This means that we don’t congratulate each other for finally talking about anti-racism, we simply engage in these discussions and take action as we should have been doing from the start. If there is to be a revolution, it’s not going to be achieved by posting a black square and #amplifyingmelanatedvoices for a day or so. If there is to be a revolution, it will require that we all have to divest from white supremacy and the anti-blackness that comes from it on a daily basis. Once you realize the magnitude of change that is required for Black lives to finally be treated with respect, doesn’t it become a little nonsensical to think that taking one day to research systemic racism would suffice? Let’s do better folks.

Until then,

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