XOTV WEEKLY: The Wicked Convenience: Racial Equity
This summer, the murder of George Floyd, and countless other Black/ African Americans helped shine a light onto one of America’s greatest recurring downfalls; the deeply embedded racism thats apart of the everyday fabric of life for BIPOC communities.
It has always been convenient for white Americans to ignore this ugly fabric. None of the inequities and brutality against BIPOC/marginalized identities are new- they have simply been brought into the spotlight through the brightness of phones and tv screens.
For the first time in this country's history, it is impossible to turn a blind eye. Magnitudes of videos now circulate on social media feeds and broadcasted on news stations. The blood splotched fabric is no longer just visible to the marginalized identities who have been forced beneath its foulness. It's been made unavoidably visible to all.
During the last 30 years, racism was allowed to thrive in the shadow of convenience disguised as ignorism. Seemly, with the election of the nation's first Black President, many adopted a false mentality that we had become a post-racist society. It was believed if we did not talk about race it would not be a problem- at least to those privileged enough to ignore it.
Humans are hardwired to dismiss facts that don’t fit their worldview. This separation made it possible for two kinds of Americas to prevail, the injustice one inflicted on less privileged identities was conveniently out-of-sight and out of the lived experience for many white people.
The denial of racism as a prevalent problem allowed many to avoid the hard work of truly unrooting it in our systems. Cell phones, social media and increased digital accessibility has served as the saving grace- as well as the potential pitfall- of current social and racial equity movements.
These platforms have taken most of the work out of showing us things beyond our own singular worldview by bridging gaps in perspective.
While the internet and technology have made it more convenient to engage in various forms of activism, it is still to be determined if it has made us better at mediating long-term change.
“Social media activism is a form of protest or advocacy for a cause that uses social media channels. Genuine social media activism is supported by concrete actions, donations, and measurable commitments to change. Without offline action, gestures like using a hashtag or posting a black square come across as performative, opportunistic, and lazy. Critics are often quick to call out these minimal efforts as slacktivism.”
While social media and digital activism have enabled people to participate and exchange in social justice in a broader capacity than ever before; it also helps give people a false sense of change.
This impact has been a lack of longevity in social movements and actual real-world political action. It has also brought on an onslaught of short-term, sub-par efforts of support like sharing posts or simply hitting the “like” button. It allows some to feel they have contributed while doing the bare minimum.
The unfortunate and devastating truth of George Floyd’s murder was it served as a shock to the masses that had been cushioned by their post racist thinking. The subsequent videos and protest revealed that this shock created a deep sense of fury and guilt in those who realized they had been fooled.
Months later with videos and protests no longer trending or breaking into the 24 news cycle. It is left to wonder will we as a nation slip back under the cover of convenience and desensitization to BIPOC brutality? Will our preference for the ease of disillusion outweigh the longevity needed to truly uproot the racism at this nation’s core?
As a Black woman writing this, with a lifetime of watching white people remain largely disinterested in race when it is not trending, my skepticism sometimes outweighs my hope.
I’ve watched companies, politicians, organizations and people only adapt and welcome saying “Black Lives Matter” when it is the socially acceptable, easiest, thing to do.
We can acknowledge the progress that comes with BLM and other social equity rallying calls from statements of controversy into socially acceptable principals. At least, widely accepted enough to be made into successful marketing strategies.
And, we must also recognize the fear I have as a Black woman not knowing if I can count on my country and neighbors to care about my life when it is no longer popular or convenient.
Sociologist Holiday Philip wrote it best in her blog, Performative Allyship Is Deadly, “We must also not be lulled into believing that this kind of easy allyship is enough to dismantle the conditions that made it possible for an innocent black man to be lynched in broad daylight. And we must not let the kind of performative allyship that begins and ends with hashtags take center stage in the quest for equality.”
About the Author:
Jayla Hodge brings her experience as a writer, editor and consultant to her work as a storyteller. Jayla's work generally specializes in diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Previous experience includes working in communications and community outreach for the City of Fort Collins and serving as the Opinion Editor at The Rocky Mountain Collegian. Jayla also has experience studying policy, laws, and is passionate about social and racial justice.