• Keonnie Janae

Performative Solidarity can kill you.



Photo by Life Matters

Just ask Ananias and Sapphira.


Let's start with the story: Acts 5:1-11


In the text, the community of the early church operates in one heart and mind. People made decisions to address societal need with tangible action and sacrifice. Some even received public recognition for it.


In this context, A+S moved to action in response, not in revelation.

In this context, A+S act with dual intent.

In this context, the impact of A+S's actions are disappointment and fear within their community.


Solidarity is defined as a consolidation of interests and responsibilities; fellowship; community. This is evidenced by clear, measurable consistent acts of togetherness. It requires commitment to be this kind of consistent. Christ committed to solidarity with us by choosing to live among us, for more than the 3 years of his ministry.

Performative solidarity is making a public show of community without wholly committing to it. As we are pulling from the narrative of A+S, I will operationally define it as actions of divided/deceitful intent that are a response to public pressure or acclaim with negative impacts in one's community.


A+S practice performative solidarity.


As the same people who posted and donated and took protest pictures as participants in a national reckoning on racism turn just weeks later to business as usual celebration of this nation, I am meditating on how to check people for what must have been a show. Then, I recommitted to not providing free labor to the descendants of enslavers.


How to Check Yourself


1. What is your motivation?

A+S sell their field as a response to Joseph's sale and public recognition. It is not due to a revelation of the new family created by Christ, the dignity of the poor or what it means to be a neighbor. What is your motivation- a response to attention others received; a capitulation to pressure from your social media feed or some new revelation of the misalignment in your life and God's heart for all people? There is difference between reaction and repentance.


2. What is your intent?

And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand- Jesus, Mark 3:25

A+S wanted to give and to keep, to be part of the community and an entity unto themselves. They could not be of the community's one heart and mind because their hearts and mind were divided. And that's assuming the best! It is possible A+S were deceitful. That they had not intention or desire to be a part of the community.

Is your intent to be wholly with and for black people?


Or is your intent to be with your black friend and still put your baby in flag themed outfits? To be for those killed by state violence and still vote for a racist bigot because abortion? Are you of one heart and mind? Are you completely joining in heart and mind with those seeking care, justice and repair for the marginalized? Or.... are you keeping some for yourself?


3. What will be your impact?

It is common knowledge how A+S performance of solidarity ends. They die. And in the wake of their death, their leaders are grieved and their community is scared. What does that money mean when it brought that kind of harm? If your actions result in fear and grief and mistrust, what will your donation mean, your Instagram post, your book reading? What is the impact of the totality of your actions?


One thing I have never heard said about A+S but I hear often nowadays in the midst of our social reckoning, undoing, new way of living: At least they gave! They did something! Give them credit. They could've done nothing. Why are people so hard on them? They're doing more than a lot of people. Give them time.


What would the impact in the early church community and the kingdom of God be if A+S did not act? What would the impact in the kingdom of God be if they instead wrestled with their divided hearts in the privacy of their living rooms? What would have been their leaders' response if they sought learning and giving without telling anyone?


There is no fruit in performative solidarity. There is no fruit in "unity" with those with one foot in Christian nationalism and another in social media focused on Black Lives Matter.


The kingdom of God survives performative solidarity, A+S did not.


So, are there acts of solidarity you need to pursue alone and at your house? Is there some wrestling and heart change you need to make private? Is your newfound involvement a result of a Holy Spirit revelation or social media shaming? Where do you need to quietly and wholeheartedly submit to leaders in this work? Is the totality of your life now going to be evidenced by a commitment of solidarity and was it just these three months?


Alexa, play "Humble" by Kendrick Lamar.

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