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EP 02: As an anti-racist, what do I need to know about virtue signaling and how can I avoid it?

Nov 12, 2020

In this session, we answer the question: What is virtue signaling, why is it harmful, and what can I do to avoid it?

Join us at the Inclusion 1st Project as we explore inclusion via the questions and discourse created by allyship in the Anti-racist Movement.



  • What virtue signaling is and whether you are participating in it. 
  • How to take intentional actions when you are speaking or posting about a sensitive subject.





Session Topic: As an anti-racist, what do I need to know about virtue signaling and how can I avoid it?

Can you help us understand what virtue signaling is and how white people can avoid it?

This was an interesting one for you, and I care because neither one of us were really familiar with that term virtue signaling. I looked up a definition because I didn't want to murder it, and I did want to be helpful. So the definition that made the most sense to me was virtue signaling is the sharing of one's viewpoint on a social or political issue, often over social media in order to garner praise or acknowledgment of one's righteousness from others who share that point of view or to rebuke those who do not share that point of view.

So in layman's terms, what I came to understand about virtue signaling is it's ultimately like making empty promises or sentiments that just make you look good rather than actually taking action.

So if this was your question or this is of interest to you to talk about what is virtue signaling when it comes to racism? I would just say check your heart. Right? Like if you are sharing things over social media because you truly want people to be influenced in a positive direction, this means you don't have to worry about what other people will perceive that to be. You know, where you're coming from and you're truly trying to make change happen through a platform that we have where we can share, but if you are making empty promises or if you're just kind of putting something out there to make yourself look good when it comes to this racist topic. This topic that's so front of mind right now. Then, you know, check yourself, don't share something if it doesn't feel genuine and authentic to your journey, but if it does feel genuine, authentic and you've researched it or you've learned something and you hope to share that, to change someone else's viewpoint or to help someone's journey, then great. Don't worry about where you're going. Share away. That's my response. 

What do you think about virtue signaling, Carrie?

Yeah, I think that only, you know, if your virtue signaling or not that we're talking about this earlier. And I was like, oh, I just shared a really, really cute and powerful gif animation on Facebook with all these different couples kissing same-sex couples, different races like just all kinds of different things just in honor of the ruling for gay rights recently. So actually just this week. But I'm like, I didn't do it for virtue signaling. I did it because, like, this is something I believe in. And I thought that it was an awesome way to just continue supporting the cause of my own self-expression.

But if you're doing it, like I said, just for the sake of doing something, especially that kind of desperate, like I need to do something, what can I do to share this? Like, well, is there something more meaningful that you could do? How can you explore what you can do and what might be more authentic and even more impactful? Even if that's in your small circle? That's OK. You don't have to run for office. It doesn't have to be this grandiose gesture. But it does need to be Antec and it does need to be impactful for you and for the people around you that that you're working within and that you're expressing these different ideas and sentiments towards.

You reminded me of something, actually, Carrie.

So a perfect example in my life when it comes and reminds you, Carrie and I did not know what was before her, but a good example was I remember the day that everyone, I think they call it blackout Tuesday, where everyone started posting black squares on social media. And I wasn't even on social media. So those days I wasn't aware that it was happening. But the woman who runs my social media for my business, she was like, do you want to participate in this? And I was really glad she asked because it gave me pause, like, do it right.

I had time to stop and ask myself, is that something I want to participate in? Does it make sense to me? Is that a meaningful action? And my biggest question was, what does that mean? But what's our follow up to sharing that imagery, that black poor image? OK, but then what? And because I didn't have a good enough answer at that point, because Shelby and I were like, well, we're not exactly sure what that means for my business. We did not go that route because I didn't want it to be empty like, oh, I'm just doing this for the sake of doing this. So that was a really good example.

Even not knowing virtue signaling is not to give yourself some pause, ask the questions of why you're participating in something or saying something, and sharing with curiosity and then make your determination based on what your answers are to yourself. Exactly.






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