Opinion | Allyship isn’t part-time

While it’s perfectly fine to show your support for Black Lives Matters on social media, you still need to do more to push for actual change.

Zeina Aboushaar, Opinions Columnist

Performative activism allows people who want to feel like they’re doing something to satisfy their need to be a part of social movements without putting in the effort of actually changing anything.

If you have purposely chosen to ignore important topics such as police brutality, repression of religious groups, and discrimiation against certain groups, and haven’t engaged in educating yourself of the world around you, then you are part of the problem.

You are also part of the problem if you do the absolute bare minimum and believe that it’s enough.

Society’s habit of only engaging in topics when they’re trending has prevented action from occurring. According to University Press, the official Justice for George Floyd petition has garnered 11.7 million signatures but the #blackouttuesday tag has 23.3 million posts.”

Activism on social media can be more of an act for social acceptance, rather than showing one’s honest solidarity. According to El Dia, “the majority of people who participated in the BLM movement blackout Tuesday in June failed to do anything else for the movement.”

Although showing solidarity is powerful, it is what you do next that marks the role you played. Instead of continuing with your life as if nothing happened, educate those around you, donate to organizations, and sign petitions. The fight toward freedom is not over.

This is also seen in companies who embrace “brand activism” and only participate in order to raise their profiles. This is absolutely rife with hypocrisy, as companies with reputations of discrimination and lack of representation have values that don’t line up with their statements.

Companies make statements that don’t go beneath the surface and assume they have done their part — their blank statements are marketing strategies and they are the only ones benefiting.

Companies such as Nike, which have publicly shown support for movements against racial justice, are also complicit in propagating racial violence. According to TheHill, Nike has pledged to donate, “40 million over the next four years to “support the black community in the US.” However, a few months ago an investigation linked Nike to Uighur slave labor. How can anyone or any corporation claim to support racial equality when they are profiting off of the victims of racial subjugation?

Nelson Mandela once stated, “I have walked that long road to freedom. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not ended.”

I don’t know where you are in your life — I’m not omniscient. Maybe posting #BlackLivesMatter on your social media is a great hill for you. But that can’t be the only one you climb. Society only moves when we push it hard, and just posting things on social media isn’t going to be enough. If real, substantive, lasting changes are going to come out of what’s happening right now, we all need to do more. Call your representatives, your senators, find out what local activists are fighting for and join them in that fight. There’s always more than can be done.

And there’s always more that will need to be.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.