Who’s heard of performative allyship? If you haven’t, and even if you have, it’s likely that you’ve done it. Performative allyship, also called performative activism, performative advocacy or optical allyship, are actions, words, posts to social media and behaviors that are done in the name of a cause. Simply, it is when we show up for a moment and then when things die out so does the activism. Performative allyship centers you as an “ally," often making you feel better.
Prime examples: Blackout Tuesday, Telluride protests, posting endless images and videos of police brutally harming and murdering Black people.
If you took part in any of the above examples, what are you going to do next? Being an advocate/ally is a continuous process. Not a one-time event. Systemic and institutional change needs to happen and that starts with us as individuals taking a deeper look inside ourselves and at policies.
So, please ask yourself: Who is it for? Who am I helping? Why am I posting, tweeting, marching? Am I doing it for the attention? Does it make me “feel better?” Am I doing it because I care but haven’t stopped to question the impact of my actions? Am I actively creating change that is in alignment with, uplifting and supporting Black, Indigenous folks and People of Color?
Right now action is critical but performance is harmful. So how can we avoid performing and actually start acting?
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Now more than ever, there is a plethora of resources and materials that Black, Indigenous and People of Color have created to support White folks in their own education and unlearning.
The work is internal and requires us to disrupt the narratives we have been taught. It is hard work. Question your motives for doing something. If it centers you, you most certainly did it wrong. Many times we get it wrong. Don’t give up.
LISTEN AND FOLLOW
Do you know what change these movements want to see happen? Now is not the time for White folks to be leading anything except their own learning and conversations with other White folks. Now is the time for listening and following Black people and communities who have been doing this work for far longer than you. Ask yourself: How am I taking direction and leadership from Black people right now without tokenizing? Is what I want to do something that is being asked for and being encouraged?
CONSIDER YOUR IMPACT
Now think about how you are showing up and the likely impact of your actions. Racial trauma is a thing Black, Indigenous and People of Color face every day. Always keep in mind impact vs. intention; they are not the same thing. How will your actions directly benefit and advance the cause? In this moment, how are you centering the voices, perspectives, needs and experiences of Black people? Black Lives Matter.
Gloria Chavira, Claudia Garcia Curzió & Emily Osan