The Privilege of Virtue-Signalling

by Ashley Chilek



The disturbing circumstances surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd made visible to all the atrocities of police brutality that previously were invalidated by the American public.


In an effort to show solidarity with the victims of police brutality and their families, both individuals and businesses took to social media to share their condemnation of the violence that has been perpetrated and perpetuated over the decades. An instance of this are the black squares that overwhelmed instagram feeds with the hashtag ‘#blackouttuesday’ and with slogans such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ in their descriptions. According to one Forbes article, over 28 million users posted the squares to their accounts.


And yet, while these attempts to show support for the black community were well-intentioned, the posts did nothing to realistically alleviate the violence, suffering and discrimination that the community continuously faces.


The black square does nothing but virtue-signal to others that, “I am not one of them”, “I’m not racist”, “I care about police brutality”: but it is easy to post to an audience of like-minded people, easy when you hide behind the safety of your computer, easy when sitting in the comfort of your own privilege.


It is easy when you are not the one being shot. It is easy when you are the one who can breathe. When, if peacefully protesting for your rights, you remain unbothered, rather than injured and your members tear-gassed, beaten and arrested.


The blank post does nothing for the unchecked violence at the hands of those wearing blue uniforms. It only appeases the guilt of uninvolved citizens, especially white Americans, for not validating nor addressing the experiences BIPOC have been insisting on for years.


Instead of a meaningless social media post, business and individuals should donate their time, money, and resources towards being proactively anti-racist and creating tangible change in the legislation and culture of the institutions under which we live.


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