By Shaunell Green
We have seen many things in 2020. Price Harry and Megan Markle announce they are stepping down from their royal duties at Buckingham Palace. The outbreak of a deadly virus has rendered the world remote. Oh, and white people have suddenly caught on to the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLMM).
BLMM is personified by resistance; it was founded with the aim of dismantling white supremacy and systemic racism towards black people. The murder of George Floyd instigated an international uprising resulting in a surge of protests, riots, and boycotts. Yet this time around, the focus of fighting racial injustice has shifted to coddling white feelings and allowing them to take centre stage. Annoyingly, black people have felt compelled to inform white ‘allies’ on the countless ways they can not be racist (e.g. why microaggressions contribute to racism, how ‘silence is violence’ or the various manifestations of white privilege). It is important to note that these uncomfortable conversations are key to dismantling institutionalized racism. They are needed, but the flood of articles and posts centred around our ‘allies’ feels like a distraction – shifting our response from an uprising to coercive education. Seemingly, another burden for black people to carry.
Rather than seeing empowering information about black people and the ways to best utilise our voices, my Instagram feed is constantly flooded with white-targeted posts about allyship, and reasons why black people deserve basic humanity. Covertly, social media ‘call-out culture’ has touched a nerve. The white ego. Consequently, white people have found a way to infiltrate a black experience and put themselves at the centre.
The natural response to death is mourning, and I long for social change. However, I feel that my opportunity to mourn another black life and feel the anger towards the systems that let it happen has been sacrificed. Instead I should feel ‘grateful’ that my white followers – who are comfortably a part of said systems – have posted a black square and DM’d me their personal list of privileges in a bid to send support. Immediately, the BLMM narrative is led by what they feel is important – their overwhelming sense of white guilt has forced us to become black educators. Unfortunately for me, I have entered a cycle a resentment. Resentment that I am consistently needing to fight for: rights, humanity, equality, and life. Resentment that my white counterparts have the privilege of ignorance and seeing the above as a trend. Resentment that I must carry the burden of the teacher when I simply want to mourn.
The peak of my frustration was when I stumbled across an Instagram post by a black man saying, ‘Sorry to all of my non-racist white friends, I have been extra angry these days, my posts are not directed at you’. The horror on my face as his Instagram story continued by personally tagging the ‘non-racist white friends’ in question. It seems to me that this man has become so consumed by what his white friends may think that he feels unable to present his own distress without having to consider their feelings.
Sadly, this is not it. Despite there being a plethora of resources available for people to inform themselves, I have seen numerous variations of ‘How to be a Genuine Ally’ on Instagram. On top of that, I certainly do not appreciate the time, energy, and effort us black people are putting into spelling it all out. The message has taken second place to educating, comforting, and thanking others as opposed to focusing on our own needs. Ironically, It has led to this piece being largely centred around white people.
To my fellow black people, be mindful of the energy you spend whilst we get through these difficult times. Normalize separating yourself from people/things are no longer feeding you. It is important that even during an uprising, we find ways to shield ourselves from the bullets of ignorance.