Updated: Nov 29, 2020
By Bren Bartol
Image via poetryclubs.com
2021 is fast approaching, and with it, so is change. A new president will be inaugurated, a COVID vaccine will be released to the public (if not sooner by current news), and the Trump Administration will face a major legal battle against the state of New York. A lot is looking up, but there are a few things we should leave behind in 2020 to ensure our success in the new year.
1. Performative Activism
As seen greatly through the Black Lives Matter movement this year, particularly in white people, performative activism got publicity in 2020. The concept of performative activism is simple: be a good person and an activist when and where people can see or watch you. It is heavily connected with the fear of being judged, and rightly so. When dealing with performative activism, one isn’t actually putting in the work to be the change - but they get the likes and clicks like they are. They treat the issue at hand like a trend. Activism is not a trend, and it never goes out of style. Enough with “being neutral,” and the extreme lack of effort. It’s time to get off your socials and into the streets. You can march, you can volunteer and donate, you can write letters to the government, you can petition, you can make art to raise awareness, you can help educate, and you can have that hard conversation with your racist uncle! There is a never-ending amount of possibilities when it comes to activism. Find your lane, and floor it!
2. COVID is a Chinese Virus
With even the president of the United States calling COVID 19, “Kung Flu”, and the staggering amount of xenophobic and racist people out there, a lot of people think this is a rational conclusion. This could not be farther from the truth. Just because a disease starts somewhere does not automatically make it exclusively that country’s. In addition, if COVID-19 started in the US, or somewhere in Europe, no one would be calling it “the French Virus” or the “the American Virus.” It would just be COVID-19.
Additionally, do you remember the Spanish Flu? The one in 1918 that killed 50 million people? It’s called the Spanish Flu because it was first recognized and spread incredibly rapidly through humans in Spain - but historians actually think it was from Kansas! Chinese Virus isn’t accurate. It’s just racist, and it has led to an increase of attacks against Asians and people of Asian descent, even if they’re not Chinese. It’s not a Chinese Virus, or simply a Chinese problem. It’s everybody’s problem, and with the poor management, high death count and high cases, it should be called the American Virus!
Let’s say by some impossibility, despite the medical evidence to back it up, masks don’t work. It is a piece of fabric that does you no harm. It’s a simple request. Your opposition, from both our stances, simply makes no sense.
Photo by Heather Leiphart, Image via Montreal Gazette
4. All Lives Matter
Your immediate response and retaliation to Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter” really only indicates you can’t fathom not being the center of attention, and that’s a petty and non-attractive quality. When we chant, “Black Lives Matter!” we are not saying that all lives don’t. We are saying Black lives have been treated as if they don’t for literal centuries, and we need to fight for the equality and equity of them.
Remember, Black lives are part of all lives. If you care for all lives, you should be fighting the injustices against others. You should be out on the street with us. All lives won’t matter until Black lives do.
5. The “My life is hard so I don’t have privilege” mentality
You can have privilege and have a hard life. For example, you could be white and be disabled. Or be gay but a cisgender man. Acknowledging your privilege, whether it has to do with your race, sexual orientation, gender (cisgender or not), or socioeconomic status, to name a few, does not take anything from you. It very simply means that your life has not been made harder due to that specific circumstance.
2020 has been a hard year for us all. However, it has shown us our resilience and dedication, and has shown us a stronger side of us we may not have known of before. We have done some great things amidst great tragedy, and we will continue to do so. Let’s not let this baggage weigh us down.
Written by writer Bren Bartol