White person shocked to learn about racism for the first time through Instagram infographic

How one brave person’s performative activism truly changed the world

PHOTO: Katka Pavlickova / Unsplash

By: Serena Bains, Staff Writer

I just learned that racism existed when I opened Instagram feed the other day. Expecting my feed of custom Starbucks drinks, country music artists, and nothing but Live, Laugh, Love, I instead came across my awakening. My feed was filled with black squares with the hashtags #BlackTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused. Something switched in me, and I desperately needed the world to know so. 

I was searching for a way to show my support for Black Lives Matter, but donating to BIPOC-led organizations that have been operating for decades and who are most equipped to help the victims of institutional violence just wasn’t for me. But posting a picture of a black square, completely ruining the aesthetic of my feed . . . now that’s brave. So I did just that. I even took the initiative to add #BlackLivesMatter in the caption.

I became an activist that day, and did so without causing harm to anyone. I didn’t have to stop supporting my favourite openly racist essential oil business owner or block roads like those hooligans — and I definitely didn’t co-opt a movement started by two Black women in the music industry. 

Now, I am the most woke person in my circle. I do really important work like constantly proclaiming that I don’t see colour, going to protests and posting pictures so I can prove that I went, and asking the one Black person I met in 2005 if they’re okay. It’s really exhausting work and the allyship fatigue that I have to endure from being such a selfless person is a burden. I couldn’t name another person that is more overwhelmed and exhausted by the emotions that come from doing this meaningful work.

Despite all of my tireless, thankless work, I still have this guilt that I’m not doing enough. I still need more evidence to rebut people’s claims that I have white privI mean, that my activism is performative. I have to innovate and come up with a solution to this problem.

Thankfully, I have the perfect idea. I’ll create necklaces from the broken glass from the protests, upcharge the piece by 1000%, and commodify off the trauma of others. Everytime I leave the comfort of my suburb to go into a Black community, my nervousness around Black people is curbed as I put the pieces back together from shattered lives. I’m providing society with a commodity that is truly worthwhile: overpriced costume jewelry. Taking something I consider to be dangerous in a Black community and making it safe by profiting from it in a White community . . . truly admirable.

Finally, my work has come to fruition. The dozens of white followers I’ve gained through constantly posting infographics about the police that I’ve never read all the way through on my story can be put to use. They’ll be able to placate their guilt from not supporting the BLM movement by increasing the profits of a white-owned business. It’s a win-win.