Institutional Racism and Performative Activism: How They Hurt BIPOC Communities

In society, there are many ways BIPOC communities get negatively affected because of their race. Some being institutional racism and performative activism.


Institutional racism, also known as structural and systemic racism is a type of discriminatory behavior

involving the race of an individual. It is linked to laws in society or organizations. For better understanding, when compared to individual racism which is defined as racism that occurs because of an individual's assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors, institutional racism can negatively affect a person’s lifestyle more strongly. This is because it is done by bigger positions like schools, hospitals, companies and is most likely linked to the law which shows that it is intentional. This type of racism encourages and is the cause of wealth gaps, racial discrimination in employment, housing discrimination which is when one is pushed to move because of their skin color, the difference of behavior in drug arrests because of race, and more.


Performative activism is a controversial type of activism when discussed in society about its effects on BIPOC communities. However, there are many proofs that show that performative activism isn’t the most effective and genuine way to approach a serious topic such as racism which therefore shows that we, as a society should begin to avoid it. Performative activism can mostly be seen on social media. For example, we can use the #blackouttuesday movement that was created in June 2020. This may seem like a great and heartfelt action at first. But when researched, it’s understood that it wasn’t as smart or effective. This is because posting black photos on social media was just silencing black people, even more, when they were talking about their own experiences and ways to overcome racism. After some time, this movement was also done to just keep up with the “trend”. Which is what performative activism is about. It is performed to show that a person isn’t racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic, etc. rather than actually working to come up with a genuine solution that will help society become more diverse and equal. However, performative activism can also be done unintentionally or unwittingly which is caused by being uninformed.


Institutional racism and performative activism both negatively affect BIPOC communities. BIPOC

communities get affected by institutional racism because it is being done in many parts of their lives such as their education, employment, health, income, housing, and when they are in a juridical situation. For example, markets can be more expensive in an area where BIPOC communities are densely located. This is an even bigger problem since they also get lower incomes and are less likely to get employed compared to white men. Institutional racism encourages BIPOC people to financially struggle. Another example can be the discrimination black women face in health care. Going to the hospital as a black woman, one will be taken less seriously and focused on than a white person. This results in them being wrongfully diagnosed or treated. It is a harmful action that not only risks one’s health but also causes even more financial struggles as they are unfairly paying for their misleading diagnosis and treatment. Secondly, performative activism, as said before, does not fully benefit BIPOC communities. It does not encourage people to make a difference such as donating, contacting their government or companies about racism, helping BIPOC people by uplifting their voices, working to come up with a solution, joining protests, and regularly. Starting an organization, a fundraiser, a blog, etc. Therefore, not only it can be offensive and disrespectful but it is ineffective to make a change.


“There is something in the water” is a great documentary that shows how BIPOC communities get environmentally affected by institutional racism in Canada. It can be found on Netflix.


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