"The response is just as emotionally draining as the action itself"IZZY THOMAS

What struck me the most about the media lynching of Megan Markle and the murder of Sarah Everard is that we’re never dealing with just the event. In our media saturated age, we’re forced to experience everything in double: the action and the reaction, the news and the response. I’m now beginning to realise that the response is just as emotionally draining as the action itself.

When another social justice movement bursts into the foreground, my fingers are scrolling to find the right infographic, signing petitions and attempting to unsee the responses of racist gas-lighters / “not-all-men”-ers / Tory trolls. The pressure to engage looms over me, especially because I’m 1) Black, 2) a woman, 3) a Black woman, and 4) a HSPS-er, which is a socio-political identity in its own right. The seemingly infinite hours of lectures and essay reading probably prompt my hate for the reductionism of Instagram pages titled “slacktivist” and “stuffyoushouldcareabout”, which amalgamate information about diverse strands of activism and incidents of injustice. Movements from Black Lives Matter to climate change should be worth more than just “stuff” that, once known to the white liberal conscience, are honoured with a few Instagram stories - stories that only last 24 hours. However, I get the rationale behind following these pages as they provide accessible knowledge about activism, which can be exhausting to keep up with.

“I realised on my walk that I can never really log off”

After Sarah Everard’s murder, I felt drained being confronted with the reality of violence against women. I also felt drained trying to be ‘woke’, so I deleted social media for a while and went on a walk. Of course, patriarchy and racism still rage on outside of my screen. An ingrained and rightly placed fear of men still forced me to keep my distance from them. I still tried to look tough but not too tough because, you know, I’m Black and I don’t want to seem like a danger. Maybe I should lower my hood. I wondered for a bit if that was the reason why a white lady kept swivelling to grimace at me the other day. No, I’m overthinking it. Then I remembered another old white lady who speed walked away from me back home, mumbling “Oh dear. Oh dear”. What could a 5′ 1” Year 9 girl do to warrant such a response? I realised that I was wearing the same long black jacket and same raised hood. The fact of my Blackness soon dawned on me.

So many posts circulating at the time of Sarah Everard’s death mentioned that women often have to make themselves look threatening in order to stay safe at night. Whilst true, it seemed sort of disparate to the conflicting ways I perform race and gender daily by having to straddle being invulnerable to men and a threat to white people. I’m deeply aware of my limited ability to be read as innocent in the first place, given that it belongs to the domain of white femininity. Black women are not afforded innocence.

“News of social injustice for marginalized people is never really news at all, simply the rehashing of the past”

The collective response to news often pulls me into a reflection of my own life. Perhaps that’s why it’s so exhausting. Something I don’t normally think about, I now have to think about. In this sense, news of social injustice for marginalized people is never really news at all, simply the rehashing of the past. Thus, opening Instagram often feels like I’m being bombarded with information I already know. Why am I being told that the UK is racist and that women suffer disproportionate violence? I already know! Yet my annoyance that the mainstream media has suddenly woken up is always accompanied with an impulse to speak up too.

I do sometimes wonder if I’m a part of this problem of exhaustion by contributing to the clamour of our generation’s social media activism. I never stop going on about the various ‘isms’, continually drawing from the bottomless bag of “As-a-Black-Woman™” experiences and making everything political.


Mountain View

A search to rediscover my voice as an activist

See-sawing between engaging or not engaging with social media activism, I realised on my walk that I can never really “log off”. Patriarchy and racism are out there in the real world. It simply waits for me to step outside with my hood up or walk alone into a winding, desolate path to be followed by a man who only leaves when I reach home. I have to say something, anything, because to disengage is a privilege. Activism is never not an option, even when I’m exhausted. This may sound somewhat pessimistic. Journaling and bubble baths will never make being targeted by oppressive systems, and having to fight against them, any less draining. However, there is a reason why I log back on at the end of the day and that’s because the clamour for social justice reminds me that people care about social justice. Petitions and spreading awareness work, even if only to a limited degree. The outcomes of social media activism are worth any feeling of tiredness.

For that reason, I don’t think I’m hanging up my social justice warrior mantle anytime soon. I recently said to a friend that the amount of reposting and petition-linking I do at this point warrants reparations. I joke about how wokeness amounts to the exploitation of Black intellectual labour but at the same time, I realise that it is labour and being exhausted is a permanent condition for most Black women. So, although we can never truly disengage, I encourage you to take a break every now and then. And if you really don’t want to feel drained when navigating online spaces, I’d recommend staying far away from the Daily Mail comment section.