Selective activism: Why this needs to stop.
2020 paved the way for members within the Irish society to discuss taboo topics that had been left festering away for years. The surge of the BLM movement in June 2020 acted as a much-needed conversation starter in the need to embrace how Ireland is not immune to racism. June acted as the month that the idea that you no longer ‘see’ race was dismantled as all members of the Irish public were confronted with the ugly truth of racism. This created a series of reactions.
As expected, the topic of the race caused a divide as social media trolls took this opportunity to remind those that had experienced racism that it was all in their heads and they should only be so lucky to reside in this country. Members of the communities who had first-hand experience of racism went through a series of being gaslighted when they dared speak out about their experience. This process was a tactical tool to ensure that they remained silent as any revelation of the years of the racial abuse would see an exposure of the racialized anxieties that resides in contemporary Ireland.
Throughout the summer we saw the term ‘allyship’ become popularised with various social media campaigns that were supposed to amplify Black voices. This was seen with the range of various social media posts, the infamous black squares, and a few hashtags that added to the wokeness of the current atrocities. This form of support was short lived as the moment BLM was not trending in Ireland or worldwide people resumed back to their lives with the naïve notion that racism was no longer an issue.
Time and time after the hype went away members of the Black community continuously reminded people that racism was still a relevant issue. The mere silence after the hype of the moment exposed the downside of social media and activism as people only wanted to talk about BLM when it was a hot topic but when it no longer served their purpose of continuously showing their sense of wokeness it proved to be irrelevant. Regardless of whether people were still experiencing racism.
The last few days of 2020 saw the term ‘allyship’ quickly disappear after the tragic death of George Nkencho.
Once again people become divided when the term BLM was used over and over and again. The same people who had feigned their outrage in June with their hashtags, social media posts, and squares remained silent and refused to even acknowledge this tragedy. This proved to be a signifier of selective activism as the individual's privilege allowed them to not care about the disposal of another Black body.
It proved that the social warriors would only speak out once BLM gained more traction and not when the Black community were continuously crying out that Black Lives Matter.
The outrage only proves to be relevant when it suits an agenda of selective activism with the result of a social token.
The fact that you can choose which social issue you want to be outraged with clearly showcases your privilege. Your silence time and time again has shown your compliance in the growing racial tension that is taking precedence in modern-day Ireland. As a human being, you should be outraged when any member of your community is being treated unequally regardless of your political view. So please the next time you are about to post your next black square or hashtag just remember that your Black friend saw you selectively remain silent when they were in pain. Your selective activism is no longer needed in 2021.