Right now, the US is facing a huge uprising, with Black Lives Matter demonstrators taking to the streets in all 50 states to protest police brutality and systematic racism after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer early last week.
While activists have been clashing with police, fires have been burning, and stores have been looted across several cities, though, many white influencers have instead been using the protests as a backdrop for selfies, sharing copy-and-pasted slogans for clout.
Kris Schatzel, an Instagram influencer and YouTuber, is one of those recently called out for staging a photo-op during a demonstration.
Following a viral video of Schatzel stepping into a crowd holding a “Black Lives Matter” placard for a post, the Russian influencer has received significant backlash on her Instagram (@rusabnb), as well as YouTube and TikTok, where her videos have been flooded with comments criticising her for using the protest as a backdrop. The Instagram is no longer public.
Before making the Instagram private, however, Schatzel shared a response to the criticism, writing: “I truly believe this level on (sic) intolerance and hateful comments are detrimental to the movement and what we are all trying to achieve for black and brown communities.”
“I hope we can all we can all focus on the true cause as to why we are all here.”
Obviously, most people aren’t attending the protests to virtue signal on social media. The killing of George Floyd, who died after 44-year-old police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, is emblematic of ongoing racism and brutality that needs to be addressed through direct action.
Activists have also been paying tribute to other Black victims of police violence, including Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, who was murdered by a white father and son in late February.
A Canadian woman who died while police were in her home, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, has also been remembered as protests have spread to Canada and worldwide.
Read more on how to be an ally here, and how to support Black Lives Matter if you can’t attend protests directly, here.