I’m tired of seeing people that have told me to go back to my country and have said racist comments about people’s skin colour, come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
I know girls who have told me they felt unsafe sitting next to foreign men in the bus (except me of course, because I’m their friend and their racism is selective), that have taken to posting black squares and long text posts proclaiming the horrors of racism. I know a guy that calls gay men ‘pufti’ but has recently shared a post saying that racism and homophobia are both despicably backward.
In the globalised world, we live in, it’s perfectly normal and admirable to support campaigns against injustices everywhere- that is not what I find hypocritical. What I do find hypocritical, is the faux activism movement I’ve been seeing online where no actual issues are being tackled. Before I mention the recent BLM movement and its impact on Maltese social media, take a look at all challenges that “inspire positivity” that has become so increasingly popular during these quarantined times. One of such challenges mentions the higher rate of suicide in men and encourages male-to-male positivity by posting a photo of yourself. A higher rate of suicide in men is definitely a conversation worth having, but being frank, is posting a selfie going to help at all?
Spreading awareness is always important, yes, but making a post from the comfort of your home saying that institutional racism in America is bad, that male suicide rates are bad, that homophobia is bad, and then stopping there- that is about as helpful as doing nothing. Awareness on social media platforms should not be spread on its own, one should do more than that. Donate to charity, actually contribute to the conversation more than just at a surface level. We should all know racism is bad, we should all know that police brutality in America occurs and is bad, move on from that part of the conversation. Tell me what we can do to help, give me an actual opinion people could disagree with.
Furthermore, what about related topics that are not being taken as seriously like the migrants stranded at sea that so many have either decided to dismiss and ridicule? It seems to me that for many black lives only matter as a social media trend, and as a cause far far away from the comfort of their home- not when it relates to Malta.
They want the praise that comes from making a change, without making a change. I want fewer posts telling me solely that Black Lives Matter, and more posts linking places where one can donate, more posts proposing long-term and short-term solutions. Why is no one complaining about black poverty in the US? Why is no one complaining about the high levels of segregation there, that give fewer chances to the African American population, leading them down a further cycle of poverty and sometimes, ultimately crime? The unfair justice system that is way harsher on black men? Most people are focusing on one single issue and boiling it down to “racism is bad” instead of providing any sort of solution.
I see people stating the obvious and patting themselves on the back for their amazing “contribution”, turning such issues into a way to feel better with themselves, nit-picking what matters and what doesn’t.
To call that activism is a disgrace, and we should aim for a better quality of activism- not just more quantity.
Written by: Daniel Rios Asensi