Attention, Instagram Will Not Solve Racism
It's a cushion that protects people from the real world
Instagram will not solve racism, and people need to accept that truth. You know, there's something about Instagram that provides an innate comfort and cushioning when working towards ending racism and fighting for change. Instagram is a media platform, and while yes, Instagram does aid in educating people, it does not necessarily mean everyone will go out and do the anti-racist work they repost in the real world.
Instagram only provides a scope of racism, and unfortunately, it also incites performative change and performative activism. Racism has multiple layers that need to be addressed, and those layers cannot all be reached through the safety net of a device and social media platform.
Instagram is a facade at times
When discussing racism on social media platforms like Instagram, people respond to it in fluffy and empty responses. For example;
I cannot believe this happened.
This is so wrong!
I wish this would end!
Yes, these are all true, but saying these things doesn't actually do anything, because we all know this. It's no surprise that BIPOC faces discrimination daily, and it is not new to us, therefore it should not be a new discovery to you. Concrete work needs to be done. These responses will not change anything in the long run.
Infographic carousel posts are not meant for you to be ''aesthetic'' or ''on-trend.''
A tremendous amount of effort goes into researching and crafting all those infographic posts made on pages like Impact, Feminist, and Change. Infographic posts are there to educate you. They leave you with a call to action, an action you should take into your daily life. And their purpose has been misconstrued by society. These posts are more than posts to be left on your story for 24 hours. Society should have what they learned from those posts with them 24/7.
The common thing to do on Instagram is to take infographic posts and repost them on your personal story for your followers to see. While there is nothing wrong with this practice. It aids in spreading the word and spreading anti-racism work to more people. However, that has not remained the focal point. Nowadays, people repost them just for the sake of reposting them, which takes away from the sole motive. That being invoking change and opening other minds, it's shifted from genuine change to performative activism.
Performative Activism: a form of activism used to increase one’s social capital or personal gain rather than genuine support towards a movement, issues, or causes.
Now it's trendy to appear as if you are anti-racist. Truth is, being anti-racist should not be for Instagram. After all, the aim is not your public display of anti-racism; it needs to come from within and be implemented on the outside.
Understand that society is built on racism, racism is not dealt with on Instagram.
Racism has been a part of our society since the 15th century when the construct of "race" was born. So consequently, racism is largely systemic, it does not only boil down to racism on an interpersonal level. Racism should be looked at, at a structural level; to truly grasp the impact it's had.
The founding fathers said that "all men are created equal" which is quite hypocritical. We all know that "all" excluded people of colour. This proves that the world and its advancement were because of the exploration and suffering of non-white people across the globe. We should never forget that fact because that fact is why we still have racism centuries later.
Yes, Instagram will help with our understanding of race relations, but we need to implement that knowledge outside of the platform. Keeping everything digitised will not magically solve police brutality, the flawed criminal justice system, and housing discrimination.
What can you do?
Start by expanding your activism, Instagram can only offer so much depth. There are multitudes of books, journals, documentaries, and sources you can look into to broaden your understanding of the flawed society we live in. An integral part of making a difference beyond Instagram is self-evaluation. It is important to look at your own biases, and recognise how they've shaped how you look at and treat others outside of your realm.
About the author
I am a Race, Society and Culture writer. I write opinion pieces and personal essays on the Black experience in our society. My articles provide readers with actionable takeaways they can take to aim for change and progression.