During my lifetime, I have constantly caught myself rolling my eyes at pretentious cishet [cisgender-heterosexual] white men who preach about how terrible neoliberalism is, older white women who have the white savior complex, Uncle Toms who betray other people of color, cishet folks invading queer spaces and all sorts of people who like to engage in performative allyship.
Performative allyship is when folks pretend to care about a cause but magically forget to keep the fight going outside of certain spaces. With all of the recent and past events that bring forth danger toward people of marginalized identities, the rise of performative allyship has never been more present. Many people yearn to wear the badge of being an “ally,” yet fail to recognize when they are harming others with their racist or xenophobic acts.
This viewpoint is dedicated to people who attend anti-racist meetings and continue to perpetuate or excuse racism on a daily basis.
This is for y’all folks who constantly speak over marginalized voices, tokenize people of color and look for a golden star after you finish your performative allyship.
This viewpoint goes out to the folks who preach #BlackLivesMatter, but don’t even talk to their black neighbours and participate in the gentrification of black folks’ neighbourhoods. Where they do that at?
This viewpoint goes out to every white person who tokenizes and fetishizes marginalized identities just to look “cool,” “edgy” or “hip.”
This viewpoint goes out to anyone who is engaging in performative allyship.
Let me let you in on a little secret: you’re not helping to improve anything.
You can retweet anti-fascist content to your heart’s desire, but if you are not out there fighting fascism, then what is the point?
There also comes the question of how to engage in activism. In this day and age, there are numerous ways a person can engage in activism. Online activism is valid (especially for folks who are physically disabled and find it challenging to leave their place of living). Other examples would include correcting folks when they perpetuate dangerous “-isms,” going out to protest, donating to local organizations, creating logos or art for groups as they prepare for demonstrations, providing free assistance for any skills that you have and many other things.
If you’re going to participate in activism, you need to make sure that you are not looking for a pat on the back, the hope and trust of marginalized folks or a gold star.
If you do not care about black and brown bodies being under constant attack, trans women being murdered in violent ways, modern day slavery, our horrendous prison system or anything else that aims towards dehumanizing other folks, then do not pretend to care.
While you do that, make sure to re-evaluate your reasons behind you not caring (it ain’t cute to be out there ignoring the fact some folks are under constant attack for how they identify).
If you care, you need to: act. Listen to people’s experiences. Recognize that we are all problematic, but never stop working to eradicate all “-isms” (by the way, they will never go out of existence. They will continue to manifest in various forms and that is when we are tasked with finding more ways to fight it). Make anti “-ism” statements a reality. Do not speak over marginalized voices. Do not dehumanize other folks. Stop performative allyship.
Sharah Hutson, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at SHutson20@wooster.edu.