‘I’m scared my boss might see my tweets, that’s why I can’t participate in Black Lives Matter’

Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
  • Following a long, devastating history of black Americans losing their lives in police custody, the recent death of George Floyd has incited a pained response across America.
  • The incident has sparked real-life and social media outrage at prejudice against the black community.
  • A W24 reader shares that she's fearful of participating due to possible victimisation which may result.

George Floyd died after being pinned down by a police officer with a knee on his neck for over eight minutes while crying, "I can't breathe."

We've seen more people taking public stances on racial injustice and police violence on social media platforms.

However, 28-year-old Nobuhle* is among many black people who are afraid to be vocal about racial prejudice. 

READ MORE: How to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement and books to read about injustice, inequality

Nobuhle shares her story:

The past few days have been emotionally and mentally draining. Having to process what is happening in the world and still meet a deadline set by a non-black manager who doesn't understand or acknowledge the strain has quite frankly been a lot for my mental health. 

I work for an advertising agency, and I usually work with different leading retail brands in South Africa. I know that I am a reflection of the company I work for and its brands, which means my social media content can't be controversial. Previously I never disputed this and fully understood where the company is coming from but now I am deeply conflicted. 

READ MORE: The Hate U Give is the #BlackLivesMatter movie you need + other books about injustice and inequality

Like many, I have been reposting content about racial injustice and the #blacklivesmatter movement.

I even uploaded a post with a lengthy caption about my experience of being a black woman in a predominantly non-black workspace. After an hour of posting it, I deleted the post as I felt like I was not adhering to the company's rules. 

I have seen how several influencers have been removed from PR lists and campaigns for being vocal about white privilege. 

Unfortunately, often speaking about race at work can quickly get you labelled as a trouble maker.

READ MORE: One-of-its-kind Rihanna dress being sold to support Black Lives Matter and other initiatives

Also, because our clients follow me on social media, I couldn't risk them seeing that post, and it perhaps affecting the company. I also couldn't risk losing my job, especially during these uncertain times. 

I prefer to share my personal experiences on social media platforms but feel gagged.

It is also not very reassuring to work for a company that borrows heavily from black culture and targets black consumers, yet all they did was post a black square, and captioning it #blackouttuesday.

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I feel betrayed to know that the company I work for has effectively decided to look away.

Worst of all, I live in fear of speaking out about my discomforts, addressing issues that affect me, and being vocal on my own social media timelines.

Sadly, acknowledging injustice can get you fired, and I can't afford to take the risk. I am forced to continue to feel unheard, prejudiced, and imprisoned by the colour of my skin to protect my career.

How is your social media activity affected by your job? Tell us here.

* Name changed to protect Nobuhle's real identity.

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