Emory Douglas’ Black Panther poster, via Casual Archivist
It’s incredibly upsetting to witness the state of the world as it is today, and it seemingly minuscule that here I was, in my unearned privilege as one of the ethnic majorities in Malaysia, to complain about being unable to put my thoughts into words. I have also been thinking a lot about hashtag activism, and how I have heard of people calling it as mere performative and in extension, an inaction, compared to the hard work of organising and fundraising. But as someone who had spent the last three years studying protests, activism, and social media, to call spreading words about grievances and awareness in an online world is more than just performative. In a traditional setting, it would be a form of consciousness-raising. Someone who is an opinion leader on social media might be spreading words through hashtags on Twitter, for instance, and their followers would be intrigued to find out — they might choose to educate themselves over it, spread the words themselves, or, the worst scenario, might not do anything about it. In other words, while hashtag activism has always been linked to slacktivism and free-riding, isn’t that also what activism is for? Fighting for the rights of people who might not be able to fight for themselves. This definitely requires more unpacking, but what I am trying to say is, not everyone could afford to donate or go to protests or do the hard work of organising, but if with a mere hashtag they could be intrigued to know and learn (and unlearn) more, I would say that is an accomplishment by itself, however small.
There are a few resources I keep going back to — but a short list of what you can do as a non-black people to support:
- Donate if you could. This whole thread has a list of all donations links, resources, contact numbers, and petitions.
- Listen to Black people! Read also about an experience of a Nigerian living in Malaysia, proof that we Malaysians are also complicit in our racism, antiblackness, and xenophobia.
- My friend Fadiah has compiled a list of what Malaysians could do in the event of police brutality in the US right now.
- Read and cite black people — Audre Lorde, Franz Fanon, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Toni Morrison, W.E.B Dubois, and many more!
- Check in with your black friends and tell them you care about them (and show it), but do not expect your black friends to educate you on what’s happening! Read, read, read.
- Support Black-owned businesses by buying things from them, and if you could not, spread the word about them.
- Actively fight racism, antiblackness, and xenophobia within your community. Start by talking to your family members about their oversight on this.
- If you are not black, DO NOT make it all about yourself e.g. “I too experienced racism and oppressions etc.” This is not the time to centre yourself.
- Interrogate your own ingrained antiblackness and colourism e.g. equating darker colours to something lesser, using whitening cream, etc. You can’t perform allyship without acknowledging the antiblackness internalised within us.
- Read read read about black struggle, and if you ever feel the need to make a comparison of your place in the situation, critically question the racial dynamics in your own country and region before making the assumption e.g. Do not say the Malays are the whites of Malaysia (?)
- “Please extend your solidarity and understand that police brutality happens in our country as well. Learn about how the police system has hurt people literally closer to you please while you observe and amplify the American voices today.”
It’s also worth to remind that it is OK to feel extremely livid, sad, and exhausted. But we are not helpless, for if we are helpless, think of our black friends living these very fearful lives that we have the privilege to opt out of. Our freedom is intertwined with each other’s, so let’s get up and do everything necessary to uphold justice and liberation for everyone.
Reading in my tabs:
- Trump is a problem that Twitter cannot fix.
- As the world sets to reopen their economy, whatever that is worth, here’s how to keep yourself safe.
- “When any new digital policies are introduced, we have to remind ourselves that those technologies will be implemented under a military mindset.” A glimpse at Thailand’s digital ID through the biometric profiling of Malay Muslims in the country
- “Giving a lecture in Exeter on 19 November 1914, the minister G. M. Newcombe related an anecdote about a friend of his who spent half his day reading war news in The Times, finishing only when the Exeter evening paper arrived in the house. ‘Naturally,’ he said, everyone was ‘interested in the great crisis, but excessive newspaper reading had a tendency to throw some people off their balance.’” On “doomscrolling” and its antecedents.
- The National Theatre in London is posting a recording of one of their full-length plays every Thursday. This past week, it was a production of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Gillian Anderson (!!!) and Vanessa Kirby (!!!).
- “When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.” — Franz Fanon.
- Reading: Angela Davis’ Freedom is a Constant Struggle, and started Alex S. Vitale’s The End of Policing, whose ebook is currently free on Verso.
- Listening: To be honest, I haven’t been listening to anything new much this week.
- Viewing: I am close to finishing my Community binge — is it still considered a binge when it’s spanned so many weeks?
- Food & Drink: I’m functioning on my new earl grey tangerine tea, and not much else this week.