'Guilt can only take you so far': Yomi Adegoke on performative activism and #BlackLivesMatter 2 years ago

'Guilt can only take you so far': Yomi Adegoke on performative activism and #BlackLivesMatter

"When are we going to go back to business as usual?"

Earlier this month, Yomi Adegoke wrote an article for British Vogue; an incredibly powerful piece that dealt with performative activism, weariness, and the news cycle of black death.


Detailing the exhaustion she felt learning about the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, Yomi expressed her frustrations at being presumed to not care about an event - just because you haven't posted about it.

"The requirement to perform our anger, our activism, our anguish online (and so immediately), creates a tiring dynamic that exacerbates already emotionally draining situations," she wrote.

"I refer to it as a “pics or it didn’t happen” approach to grief; if you don’t tweet about it, you don’t care about it."

Yomi's piece is one of the many that received an incredible amount of traction in the wake of Floyd's death and the global protests that followed.


Speaking on Her's Girls With Goals this week, Yomi says that she wrote the piece for herself, unsure of how "appropriate" it was to not immediately react to what was happening online.

"When things started to pick up around the conversation around police brutality, I felt - and a lot of the black people I've spoken to have felt - exhausted," she says. "It was like this really deep seated grief that hadn't really left.

"It felt overwhelming but not necessarily shocking, because this is something we see in the news cycle all the time and we as a community react to, and are pained by.


"The only way it seemed appropriate to process it was online, and by live tweeting this grief and prove it was upsetting to me. The initial response felt like a lot of people were being judged quite harshly for not having an immediate take, but I don't think you can 'hot-take' black death."

Yomi says that although the attention Floyd's death garnered is considerable (and at times overwhelming), she remains concerned that the need for change is being overshadowed by guilt.

"So much of it is fuelled by guilt rather than a genuine engagement with the issues," she says.

"And that's where the problem lies because guilt can only take you so far, which is why I think we have this cyclical approach to police brutality and to instances of racism.


"It can be quite stressful watching people scrambling to prove an understanding of something they haven't necessarily grasped. And that puts us in a position where we fear: when are we going to go back to business as usual?"

You can listen to our full interview with Yomi on Girls With Goals below. 

Read her article 'We Need To Rethink Our "Pics Or It Didn't Happen' Approach To Activism" in British Vogue here.