Unlike what many people believe, the Black Lives Matter movement did not start in the summer of 2020, following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. That was when it began to gain a lot of traction, though; Floyd was the tipping point that threw a lot of Black people and allies over the edge. We grieved, protested, and demanded change.
What we got, instead, was negative discourse, even more police brutality, and, among other things, performative activism. BLM became a trend — three little letters people placed into their bios across social media platforms to look good, an aesthetic, another way to fetishize what it means to be Black in the USA. Nothing that Black people do goes untouched by the White gaze; we’re constantly labeled ‘for your entertainment;’ everything we do is scrutinized and stolen. We can’t grieve in peace. We can’t protest in peace. We can’t even find a date in peace.
In June of 2020, many Tinder users reported that their accounts were being removed after they showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as encouraging others to sign BLM petitions and donate to BLM organizations. Apparently, the app could not be used for ‘promotional purposes’ — no matter that people were dying, right?
Now, when you sign up for Tinder, you can select Black Lives Matter as a passion that will show up on your profile, alongside things like ‘Travel,’ ‘Golf,’ and ‘Disney.’
Having ‘Activism’ and ‘Politics’ under the label Passions makes sense. Not everyone is an activist; not everyone actively partakes in political matters. However, specifically putting Black Lives Matter, and separating it from activism and politics, as if that isn’t exactly what it is . . . really makes me question what people think BLM means.
Plus, this is going to create so much unnecessary drama; what kind of person are you if you don’t have BLM listed as one of your passions? What if you do? What does it mean, really, to say “I am passionate about Black Lives Matter.” Okay? You should be. That’s like saying “I’m not racist,” or “I’m a feminist.” That should be a given, if you’re not a horrible person.
‘Feminism,’ ‘Mental Health Awareness,’ and ‘LGBTQ+ Rights’ are also listed as ‘Passions’ for Tinder profiles, which is another layer of problematic, but it is especially infuriating to see Black Lives Matter being nestled right between ‘Activism’ and ‘Politics’ as if it’s a separate thing, as if it needs another reason to be scrutinized under a magnifying glass. BLM is activism. BLM is political. There is a deep, dark history behind Black Lives Matter — arguably, Black people have the most grotesque and most persistently unchanged history of any other categorized group of people. BLM is more than a movement, and it’s more than a passion. These are people’s lives on the line — which makes having ‘Black Lives Matter,’ as well as ‘Feminism,’ ‘Mental Health Awareness,’ and ‘LGBTQ+ Rights,’ listed alongside things like ‘Fashion,’ ‘Karaoke,’ and ‘Vegan,’ extremely distasteful.
Maybe there is an upside to having Black Lives Matter as a standalone ‘passion;’ maybe this is a way to highlight BLM, a way to spread the movement and the message, a conversation-starter amongst people who want to date others who really, truly care about Black lives. That’s just not how I see it, though; I can’t see an upside to singling out BLM and juxtaposing it alongside activism and politics. Dare I say it; Tinder is segregating BLM from other movements.
BLM is controversial, as much as it shouldn’t be, and more and more people feel obligated to pretend to care about it because it’s the focal point of social justice right now, and consistently has been since the murder of George Floyd. Inviting people to place BLM in their biography is, quite frankly, dangerous for Black people. What happens when someone who fetishizes Black people is able to add BLM as an interest on their profile? What about when a White supremacist fakes BLM activism to potentially draw Black people in? The shared interest of ‘BLM’ between Black people and these fake activists bridges a gap that could keep Black people a little bit safer otherwise.
These are extreme and hypothetical examples, but they’re not far-fetched. This is the world we live in.
It’s impossible to tell who is being sincere in their care for Black Lives Matter, especially on a dating app, where the whole point is to meet complete strangers. This is dangerous for Black people, and further muddles the existing confusion around what BLM is, and what it means.
I’ll leave you with this: Black Lives Matter is a movement that started in 2013, following the death of 17-year-old Treyvon Martin. BLM captures a history that is hundreds of years old, one that persists today through police brutality, inequality, poverty, and so much more. Black Lives Matter is not an interest, an aesthetic, or a trend. It’s life. It’s the U.S., and the world. It’s political, it’s common sense, and it’s not going away any time soon.
Featured Image: Courtesy of TechCrunch