Forget the Black Square: Finally Commit to Anti-Racism

August Jay


August 13, 2020

Tuesday, June 2nd, Instagram users “blacked out” by the millions. This populace, comprised of primarily white and non-black people of color (POC), posted black squares to their feeds coupled by “#BlackOutTuesday” with the intention to demonstrate solidarity with Black Americans. The impact, however, did not meet their intentions — combatting racism isn’t so seamless. How can practicing anti-racism be as simple as posting a black square when several of the people who did post one have not spoken up about anti-blackness in all the time I’ve spent knowing or following them? The honest answer: it isn’t; it’s a commitment lived up to through lifelong practice. Anti-racism cannot be rewarded through likes and shares or a pat on the back. A commitment to anti-racism demonstrates the willingness to sacrifice your job, college admissions status, housing, relationships, comfortability, and, ultimately, positionality to then make space for folks who have not been afforded the same privileges.

At Promly, we believe in the power of connectedness and that communion can only take place when Black people have a seat at the table, their voices amplified. The black square fad demonstrated that more powerful and demanding action steps exist and need to be listened to and pursued. Promly’s app will serve as a platform for school-aged individuals to build safe connections through an engaging user-experience designed by peers of the same age. In order to prioritize the safety and well-being of our community, the Promly Team compiled a list of ways white and non-Black POC members can learn how to recognize their privilege, understand the importance of listening and being corrected, be a proactive bystander, and “use [their] empathy to be actively anti-racist” (Angela Arutura). It is our mission to both empower and challenge one another to take part in a solution that creates lasting social change. Black Lives Matter holds as our company truth and our navigation while we continue to grow and invest in creating connections between young people.

How to use your empathy to be actively anti-racist:

  1. Shut up and listen. Listen to what someone chooses to share with you. Avoid reading between the lines and playing comparisons. Actually hear what they’re saying and validate their experience.
  2. Listen to Black women. Black women have been laying down their lives for all of us to have access to our rights and live comfortably. Listen to their wisdom, protect their rights, and love their beings just as they have for us.
  3. A word from the wise, @makirollOFC — Many Black people are grieving due to recent events and ongoing trauma. Avoid messages like “You are so strong,” and “Are you okay?” Instead, “What do you need?” Make yourself a safe space.
  4. Black folks don’t owe non-black POC and white people a quick response. Give your Black friends and colleagues as much time and space as they need.
  5. Read, watch, consume material created by people of color. The majority of award-winning films, and films made in general, are directed by white, straight cismen. The lens is in their perspective, in their biases. Shift your gaze. Question how social standards and your biases are similar and different. This tip comes from author Charles Orgborn III’s “7 Ways Racism has Affected Me (and 7 Solutions”.
  6. Oppression, like everything else in life, is intersectional. One person’s story will never suffice as the story because each experience is as different as it is valid. Back to two earlier steps, continue to listen and make yourself a safe space. This tip also comes from the previous author mentioned, Orgborn’s “You’re Gay and Black, Two Things That Can Get You Killed.”
  7. All Black Lives Matter. Protect every Black person — trans, queer, femme, incarcerated, dark-skinned, fat-bodied, disabled, undocumented, etcetera.

Here is a list of places you can amplify, donate to, or sign petitions for change:


Donate to any of these organizations and petitions to show support and help advance the agenda for equal representation and justice.


Sign any of these petitions to show support for change and accountability in our judicial system.

Call and Respond

Educate Yourself

Dedicate time to learn more deeply about institutionalized racism in the United States, and how to safely take action against it.

Make Mental Health Care Accessible

  • Ethel’s Club – A Black-owned and -operated social club that offers access to Black therapists and a multitude of creative events for People of Color.
  • Crisis Text Line – A different approach to crisis intervention, Crisis Text Line offers you help when you text 741-741. You’ll be able to chat with someone who is willing to listen and provide you with additional resources.
  • Shine Text –  A Black-owned self-care app through which you can sign up to receive cheerful texts and tips every day.
  • Therapy for Black Girls – A Black-owned directory to help you find Black therapists in your area.
  • BEAM Community – A Black emotional and mental health collective committed to the health and healing of Black communities.
  • Self-Care Tips for Black People Who Are Struggling With This Very Painful Week – A resource on VICE with tips that may provide a bit of relief.

Protesting Tips

Lastly, let’s celebrate solidarity and beauty when we see it:

Image Credits: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/837106649470186614/

The views, opinions, and stories expressed in Promly Garden articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of Promlyapp.com. We aim to give Gen Z a voice and welcome articles and opinions from Gen Z contributors who want their voice to be heard. Please send any articles, poetry, or artwork you’d like to see published on the Promly Garden to heypromly@promly.org.

With immense gratitude, the Promly Team.

August Jay

August Jay (they/he) joined the Promly Team shortly after the global pandemic emerged in the US. They care about creating socially-conscious material in relationship to a behaviorist’s lens. August will graduate from the Columbia School of Social Work in May 2022, and hopes to continue serving queer and trans people throughout their therapy practice.