Things got kicked off on Twitter when comedian Elijah Daniel tweeted about one of Apa's most recent movies The Hate U Give. The movie, which dropped in 2018, follows Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) who faces criticism from her community after witnessing the shooting of her black, unarmed friend by police. Apa plays Chris, Starr's boyfriend.
Daniel tweeted, “i love that movie but i do have a question, completely unrelated to the beef i formerly had with him, if KJ was the co-star of that movie why is he so silent? he has such a massive young audience and got paid to be in a movie about police brutality and … posted a black square?,”
Apa was quick to respond. He wrote back, “I don’t need to post about my opinions and beliefs in order for them to be real to me. I support black lives – but I don’t feel it’s necessary to prove to people I do by posting my attendance at these protests.”
The 22-year-old didn't post anymore on the topic. The 'black square' Daniel is referring to is the #BlackoutTuesday square that went viral last week. In the movement, people posted a completely black square to their social media accounts in a show of solidarity and to signify they we're 'muting' themselves to listen.
The challenge has since been criticised for being an example of preformative activism—meaning people were using it to publicly look like they were supporting Black Lives Matter, without donating, sharing, protesting or educating others.
And while it is true that activism doesn't need to be publicised in order for it to be valid, many of Apa's fans (including 18.2 million on Instagram and 2.1 million on Twitter) weren't exactly satisfied with his answer.
In the comment section of his Blackout Tuesday post, the sentiment was more or less the same.
"Where’s a donation link? a petition link? i’m sorry but you can do more with your platform," wrote one user. Another wrote, "you think that posting a blank screen is enough? nah man try harder".
One simply wrote, "Is that it?"
Fans on Twitter also pointed out comparisons between Apa and his Riverdale castmates, several of which have been super vocal about their support of Black Lives Matter, including Cole Sprouse who was recently arrested at a protest, and Vanessa Morgan, who called out unjust treatment of black characters on the show.
Apa hasn't responded further.
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