So You’ve Posted a Black Square… Now What?

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

It has been 68 days since George Floyd’s death, 141 days since the death of Breonna Taylor and 60 days since Blackout Tuesday.

So, you posted a black square; now what?

Did the black square you posted on Instagram make a real difference? If your answer is yes, then explain why it is that people of colour are still being killed and experiencing discrimination daily?

Since the seeds of slavery were planted in the Fourteenth Century, racism remains a prevalent issue. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) were used as a catalyst for the capitalist triangular trade and treated as commodities rather than humans with inalienable rights. This exploitation of people of colour is deeply ingrained in contemporary society, whether you want to believe it or not, from the white-washed curriculum, Black-fishing, and the profitable appropriation of Black culture, to only name a few.

Through the perspective and experiences of a person of colour, may you educate yourselves, question whether that black square on Instagram made a difference, and understand how you can do more than performative activism.

Sadly, as is often the case for BIPOC, I have frequently been subject to racism; it is now a normalised part of my life. I grew up in a predominantly white community, being one of the very few Black children in the school.

Throughout my school experience, I was subjected to being called the N-slur and unrelenting microaggressions. Although there are far too many to write, these incidents include, being referred to as a “Burnt sausage,” asked, “Why are your palms white when the rest of you is black?” and the most frequent one: “Which country do you come from?”

Something that has also been said to me and has stuck with me for some time is “You are pretty for a Black girl”. But what does it mean to be “Pretty for a Black girl?”

It is a profoundly backhanded compliment, implying that Black bi-racial women manage to be pretty despite our blackness. It indicates that having a lighter skin tone and mixed features allows my blackness to be more socially acceptable. This comment holds ignorance and upholds exclusive beauty standards that have historically disregarded and isolated Black women.

Growing up, I would often have my hair pulled and played with, without my permission, often feeling like an animal in a petting zoo. Also, I, like many other BIPOCs, have felt fetishized by people expressing their obsession with wanting to have mixed kids.