Happy Wednesday! When I rebranded in September, I promised to share more about who I am. So, here we are.
Photo by Allie Provost:
Let’s talk about race. Hear me out, please. I have been trying to publish this blog post for YEARS. YEARS. I teach African American Literature, so I am adept at talking about race and navigating incredibly tough and potentially incendiary conversations. But, talking about race in the classroom is different because I have the benefit of establishing a rapport with my students and gaining their trust as we navigate difficult discussions together, face-to-face. I hope that I have gained your trust in this digital space by posting about, endorsing, and sharing things that I own, keep, and love. When I create a blog or IG post, I imagine that I am sharing what I love with friends (and the haters who lurk……shrugs, I pray for y’all daily………..but I digress).
So, here is the deal. I started my blog because I wanted to share my love for one of my favorite brands, J. Crew. In September, I changed my social media handles to reflect who I am as a person beyond the clothing that I wear. I am blackity black. I LOVE being black. I walk around jamming to James Brown’s “say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” all the time! And, in the words of Zora Neale Hurston, my favorite black woman writer, “But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all but about it.Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more of less. No, I do not weep at the world–I am too busy
sharpening my oyster knife.” I LOVEEEEE this quote. And, I agree with everything Hurston says here.
But, waking up to images featuring all white women enjoying sponsored press trips together has reminded me that we need to have tough discussions about race and representation. Representation matters. I encourage white women social media influencers to take a hard look at their Instagram/Facebook/Twitter feeds. Ask yourself what message you’re sending if everyone in your feed looks like you. And, to be clear, I am not talking about ascribing to the tokenism that we often see in college recruitment guides that feature students of color who most likely never attended that institution or whose pictures still grace the cover of brochures decades after they’ve graduated. What I am talking about is being an ally. When you receive an invitation for these press trips (or when you’re asked to participate in a brand collaboration that features other bloggers), ask the brand who will be included in the campaign or press trip. If the brand does not include the names of influencers of color (I mean there are lots of us who create great content), do something. Speak up and demand that influencers of color be included. Speak our names. That’s the real work of allyship. And, let’s be honest. Talking about race requires being incredibly vulnerable. It requires acknowledging that white privilege exists (I encourage you to read THIS article about white privilege by Peggy McIntosh).
Ultimately, let’s do the work and help create a digital influencing space that reflects the diversity of our world.
Finally, if you want visual evidence, check out Alicia Tenise’s Twitter posts about the lack of diversity I’ve been describing.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!