Let’s Talk About Performative Allyship

Performative allyship is a problem in today’s day and age. This term refers to individuals who are not from marginalized groups who profess support in a way that isn’t actually all that helpful and harms the group. You’ve probably seen acts that indicate performative allyship over the summer when George Floyd was murdered by the police and many allies started posting black squares on Instagram to show that they were “woke” or a “good person." While this might have been well-intentioned it can actually be harmful. It is important to dig deeper and have honest conversations with yourself to see how you may be improving or even exacerbating the problem that is systemic racism. 


 If you’ve recently been in a position that lacks diversity, why not start questioning the organization and finding ways to increase diversity? If there are positions that are based on a hierarchy, with only privileged individuals occupying higher positions, then that should also be a red flag. It is important to view your role and the lack of diversity as an “us” issue rather than a “them” issue. A study suggests that  diversity programs often fail because managers often have biases of their own (particularly when hiring minorities and women), which can further exacerbate the issue. Black men and women should not be the only ones caring about diversity and representation – we should all be voicing and advocating for equal representation.  


Another key issue is pinpointing the blame and trying to shift the narrative by focusing on the victim’s personal life. For instance, when George Floyd died, many individuals supporting the “All Lives Matter” narrative tried to find ways to blame Floyd for his behaviour that got the cops involved. This type of mindset is very harmful. Usually it is important to evaluate both sides in an argument; however, this should not be the case when talking about human lives, especially when the system seems to disparately affect Black lives in adverse ways. This perception and this toxic narrative has got to change. To learn more about the perception that racial minorities commit more crimes (which is actually an overestimation) check out this resource.


These days social media is full of “Karens”-- individuals who pick fights with store personnel, sometimes express racist sentiment (the “go back to your country” in particular), and are seen embarrassing themselves on social media. If you see someone being bullied or discriminated against publicly like this, it is important to take a stand against these vile sentiments. Don’t be a bystander and instead intervene. Call the Karens out and start educating people. You don’t have to be confrontational about it, but by staying silent and remaining passive you have chosen the side of the oppressor. This is also the type of situation that causes Black men and women to be forced to record themselves to get justice for their murders or any type of confrontation – yet even then the justice system fails them (#JusticeForBreonnaTaylor, #JusticeForElijahMcClain).


These are just a few ways that you can take a stand in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and some of the most vulnerable individuals in society. If you are able to sign more petitions, call representatives, and even donate to BLM organizations in Canada, then that is great too. Find ways to support your Black friends, and continue educating yourself and checking your privilege.