A Black Square Just Won’t Cut It

I uploaded a black square to my Instagram last night, captioned it #blacklivesmatter, and felt really great for two whole seconds.

But as the likes started flowing in, I got this sick feeling in my stomach….  what on earth is a black square going to do? Will it achieve anything besides my own validation? Besides proving to people that I care?

I deleted the post.

How useless I am, berated the voice in my head, and she’s not wrong.

There is no escaping the anger, violence, disappointment, and pure injustice felt in the United States. Cities are burning with the kind of rage that leaves lasting damage. My TikTok feed (yes, I am 24 years old and on TikTok) once filled with Harry Potter reenactments and quirky dance routines, is now a never-ending stream of teargas, fists, fires, and fears.

And here I am, sitting on my bed in my PJs halfway across the world, uploading and deleting a picture of a black square.

Just last month, when Israel was still under lockdown and coronavirus cases were on the up and up, the best thing I could do was remain in my PJs on my bed. Back then, inaction was the best kind of action in the fight against the invisible enemy invading our homes.

But now, inaction seems like the worst possible solution. Now, just the reminder of that video brings up bitter bile.  We collectively witnessed a man being killed slowly and deliberately. We collectively held our breaths as the murder porn played before our eyes. We collectively observed a police officer chocking an unarmed human being to death.

I am a white, Jewish, South African. I was born with a golden spoon up my mouth and a glass overflowing with opportunity in my hand. The Apartheid ended two years before I came into the world, but the conversations of racism, privilege, and intolerance that have been sparked over this week have lodged a bubble in my throat that is not going away. I think of my darling Jojo, our housekeeper who lived in our backyard and made me breakfast every morning growing up, I think of how many times I crossed a street or stepped my foot a little harder on the gas if I saw someone I deemed suspicious due to the color of their skin, I think about the fact that before I came to Israel, I did not have one black friend.

It’s true, I grew up in a place seeping with remnants of the Apartheid era, and saturated with racist undertones. I have been so close to it all my life, yet so bloody far.

To be judged, trialed, and sentenced at a glance because of the color of my skin is something I will never experience. And that is why I cannot sit here, in my pjs, uploading and deleting an Instagram post. Injustice must be met with action.

As of now, a black square just won’t cut it. Neither will a blog post.

About the Author
Twenty-two years old, Yaffa made Aliyah just over three years ago. After taking part in the Mechina program at Hebrew U she is now in her final year of a B.A. in Philosophy and Literature in Bar Ilan, working part-time as a content writer and is still going through the long process of integrating into Israeli society. (And loving most of the journey)
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