Performative Activism


NOTE: This message is for all, with an emphasis on non-Black people.


Here at Your Neighborhood Scholar, the freedom and liberation of Black people is a serious matter. We do not condone nor wish for people to wear our merchandise in moments of performative activism


For Your Neighborhood Scholar, performative activism refers to people using radical/revolutionary moments, imagery, historical figures, quotes, and art forms to gain personal clout, praise and recognition in real life or on social media platforms. This performance of activism is common, as opposed to people committing their life/energy/resources to the liberation of Black people by actively organizing and fighting against systems of oppression that limit freedom and result in Black people not having access to housing, food, education, safety, healthcare, etc.  


Examples of Performative Activism 

  1. Purchasing and posting yourself wearing a Protect Black Children item, when you do not provide consistent protection to Black children.
  2. Believing in Black freedom/protest only if it does not include SELF-DEFENSE.
  3. Claiming to be for Black freedom but promoting the false notion that hugging police, getting coffee with police, funding police, shooting hoops with police, or dancing with police is the way to liberation, as opposed to defunding/abolishing the police and investing those funds into Black communities (housing, clothing, education, mental health, etc.).
  4. Attending a march/protest in light of Black suffering/death for a photo opportunity to post on social media. 
  5. “Standing” for justice online, but dodging accountability from Black people in real life during conversations about race and antiblackness. 
  6. Talking justice for Black people on social media, but unwilling to keep that same energy with your family members, friends groups, organizations, and peers that endorse antiblack/racist ideologies. 
  7. Reposting/Retweeting radical/revolutionary quotes, messages, and pictures of historic/contemporary Black activists for personal praise when you have not studied them, have no intention to learn about them, and may not even agree with their politics.  
  8. Wearing meaningful messages dealing with Black freedom without doing any work to support Black life and advance justice with Black communities. 
  9. Saying/Typing any of the following having done very little, if anything, to tangibly support Black people and organizations: I support you, I will stand with you, I will fight for you, I will defend you, I love you, I am here for you, I’m an ally, Be safe. 

How can you begin to support without being a performative activist? 

If based upon the criteria above, you believe you fall into the realm of a performative activist and wish to respect our platform and still support, we recommend you consider doing the following: 

  1. DONATE directly to Black organizations and initiatives that support justice for Black communities.
  2. PURCHASE a Protect Black Children item for a Black person that: 1) You have a close relationship with and 2) You are CERTAIN would not take offense to you gifting them with such an item (Strong recommendation for non-Black people who do not provide primary care and protection for Black children through family/relationship ties, but agree with the message “Protect Black Children”)
  3. WAIT for us to release merchandise in the future that you can purchase and personally wear without being a performative activist and/or dishonest with yourself with regard to if you live up to the message on the garment.  

So again, before you purchase any of our merchandise, especially the Protect Black Children items, be sure to read this document thoroughly and ask yourself the following: 

  • Am I being a performative activist?
  • Do I feel attacked by what I just read?
  • Am I willing to donate to Black causes without receiving a thank you or something to post and show off to the world to gain recognition? 
  • Did I want to wear this item with this message even though I don't actually protect Black children? 
  • Is this a compulsive buy that I am making just because the visibility of Black death is heightened for me right now?

Always, 

Taharka Anderson, M.A.Ed., Founder