The art of performative wokeness:
What is performative wokeness?
Definition as per the urban dictionary: People who are more concerned with self-promotion, social media “likes”, or selling books & lectures; than they are about Actual Deliverables.
“The performatively woke person takes up a lot of space. The ally makes space. It’s a crucial difference.”
We have seen constantly seen the woker than woke ally who steeped in privilege talks about marginalized members of society and is often called upon to speak on behalf of them by their admiring and sycophantic “Uncle Toms.”
The desire to be seen on the right side and to be seen to be doing the right thing is often confined to social media spaces and or intimate, safe settings that’s not likely to cost them their elevated position or privilege in life.
The performatively woke person makes a lot of noise but accomplishes very little. They often get in the way of true allies. They will speak to black and brown people about racism and whiteness forgetting their own privilege and completely missing that the ones they are checking or preaching to have first-hand lived experiences.
Performatively woke people speak down to or speak at rather than speaking with black and brown people. They will enter groups and their agenda is more to be viewed as being right than actually accomplishing anything when speaking about race. When they are called out, they become angry and flounce off, accomplishing absolutely nothing. In fact, they make true allies work that much more difficult because the ally then has to undo the anger of the crowd first before being able to speak about injustices.
What an ally does:
“An ally speaks when necessary, and only when s/he truly understands the dynamics under discussion. Allies will first do no harm. The performatively woke, on the other hand, never shut up. That’s their defining characteristic.”
“The performatively woke claim to be breaking down barriers between people, when in fact they spend most of their time reinforcing an ever more confining bubble, surrounded only by those who aspire to the same levels of advocacy-by-way-of-arrogance.”
We need allies who are more interested in conversation than contention.
Allies who are able to amplify the voices of the unheard.
Allies are meant to clear paths towards understanding not creating more obstacles.
Allies never shut down the voices of black and brown people, only performative allies do.
An ally’s primary function is to listen and to know when to speak up.
I have come across many performative woke white people and some have even challenged my lived experiences.
Performative allies have even offered to take me around and show me, marginalized people. Funny that the areas they wanted to take me was where I grew up.
Allies, true allies do not need the spotlight and shy away from it and are out there “digging the proverbial trenches.” Getting the real work done, unlike the performative one who enjoys the likes on social media more than getting their hands dirty.
An ally will always ask how they can be of assistance before merely jumping in and assuming what they are doing is right.
It’s important to learn the difference between an ally and a performative ally. The one does all the work while the other seems to be doing all the work.
Which one are you?
“Some excerpts from Eric Petersen’s column in Medium