Last year, protests against police brutality forced many who had previously been comfortable in their apathy towards racism to take a stand, even if they didn’t know exactly what they stood for. It led to a performative outpouring from whites on social media, many of whom were still educating themselves in the process.
Some of those gestures were genuine and helpful, specifically when white people gave money to black people. That was great. Others were led by the social media zeitgeist, leading to the unnecessary circulation of Shaun King quotes and vacuous trends like #BlackoutTuesday. The lasting signifier of this bygone era are the many, many social media bios that now feature “BLM.” It is the most common shorthand for being an antiracist, and as such it is abused.
Is BLM in bio meaningless? No, but it’s also not that meaningful. There is a certain disappointment I feel when I see it in a white person’s bio, because now I have to figure out what they are compensating for. I ask myself, are they speaking to the white people who are looking at their profile? Or do they want to signal to me that they are down? It is especially confusing when you apply those questions to the white people with BLM in their dating profiles in which case you have to wonder whether it is there to attract black people or the other white people with BLM in their profile.
But then I think about the people who threw BLM in their bio in good faith because it reflected their general beliefs and they thought it was the right thing to do. And perhaps they’ve wanted to change it up since then, maybe with a joke or their new job information, but they struggle with the possibility of getting called out for removing something that once felt so crucial to their participation in the struggle, that the absence of BLM is ALM.
But this is only an actual conundrum for celebrities or internet people who are under constant surveillance by their stans, that’s just the fame game. I think regular whites who are presumably living as justly as they can muster should have the opportunity to get rid of the BLM in their bio without judgement if they want.
That’s why I’m proposing an amnesty day for white people to reclaim their bios and maybe leave Black people out of it unless it comports with their actions and lives and it is something that is helpful to project. I simply want white people to think about whether having it in their bios is a throwaway or not. White liberals who want to put the heat on their racist neighbors should keep their BLMs, but the undercover Karens should not.
On Take BLM Out of Your Bio Amnesty Day, nobody will say anything if you remove your BLM; if they do, you can just show them this blog which should settle things nicely. I’ve decided this day should take place today, on December 8, because that's when we decided to publish this blog post.
Most actual allies can get by on the impact of their actions without needing to remind anyone about it at all. Without BLM in your bio, it’s possible nobody will notice you meet the minimum for treating others with dignity — but that’s okay, because BLM is not about you.