We Are Who We Surround Ourselves with—Including on Social Media
What does following Black women and/or organizations founded by Black women on Instagram have to do with learning how to be a better ally to the Black community?
As it turns out, a lot.
The average Instagram user spends 53 minutes a day on the app. That's nearly seven hours a week, some of which, surely, can be redirected from mindless scrolling to active engagement.
Women (and others, but we’re talking about women right now), have been protesting—marching, chanting, holding signs—every single day since May 25th. There is a palpable urgency for Americans to critically examine our individual relationships with race and racism, as well as learn how to actively be antiracist.
For those of us who may for the first time be attempting to understand how even people who don't consider themselves racist can passively perpetuate racism, social media offers a sense of direction as we work to unlearn the inherently racist systems in the U.S. This self-education will inevitably require us to feel a bevy of unpleasant feelings. While unpleasantness is a part of life, our learning environment also plays an important role in our capacity to sit with discomfort and digest it.
The list below compiles just a few of the many social media mavens who work tirelessly to provide their followers with resources, knowledge, and/or insight into their daily lives. Some have garnered attention for their platforms as activists, others occupy a liminal space between a professional/personal presence and making calls to action. Some were born in the U.S., others moved here and now call it home, one is British.
By making room for their voices in our feeds, we make space for our minds to consider new angles and perspectives, an important first step for those of us committed to prioritizing creating a true United States.
The Great Unlearn (@thegreatunlearn)
Founder Rachel Cargle (@rachel.cargle) is a public academic, writer, and lecturer originally from Akron, Ohio and has been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Harper’s Bazaar.
The Great Unlearn is Rachel's creative approach to inviting people looking to un-learn “our whitewashed colonized understanding of the world,” according to a recent post. A self-priced, month-by-month course (starting at $5), Rachel’s organization includes downloads, live events, and resources such as guest speakers. Her formula? Knowledge + Empathy + Action.
From Privilege to Progress (@privtoprog)
From Privilege to Progress was born two years ago in Philadelphia when a video showing an instance of police unjustly arresting two Black men for entering a Starbucks and requesting to use the bathroom without purchasing anything went viral.
Co-founders Michelle Saahene (@michellesaahene) and Melissa DePino (@thewildsister) cofounded the account and the #ShowUp movement after meeting during the incident. Michelle actively spoke out and Melissa filmed and tweeted the video, which has since been viewed more than 13 million times. Together, the pair work together to desegregate the conversations around race, encouraging active antiracism education and incorporate active allyship into their day-to-day lives.
Michelle also recently connected with and had an extended conversation with former Bachelorette Hannah Brown about racism in America and Hannah’s anti-racist journey. Hannah, who hails from Alabama, freely admits this journey began recently.
Jessi Raulet (@ettavee)
Jessi is an artist, designer, and social media influencer originally from Indiana. In the early days of her career, she lived and worked in San Francisco as an art director in advertising, eventually moving to Paris for love. Her Instagram page EttaVee was born there, which features her signature colorful pieces.
Jessi now lives in Strasbourg, France and posts original art content that often features collaborations with other successful entrepreneurs, offers live painting classes, creative coaching, and is building a blog geared towards helping emerging artists build their business. Commissions for 2020 are currently closed but keep an eye out for 2021!
Official Millennial Black (@officialmillennialblack)
Writer Sophie Williams (@sophiewilliamsofficial) is an anti-racism advocate and activist. She is the British author of the upcoming book Millennial Black (available for pre-order here) and worked in advertising for many years before launching her own marketing agency.
On May 26th, @officialmillennialblack had under 1,000 followers. That day, speaking out about the murder of George Floyd, Sophie penned an article-post about anti-racism and allyship. The post went viral, and now, six weeks later, the account has nearly 160,000 followers. She posts articles regularly and is extremely interactive with her followers, encouraging self-education and active allyship.
Eunique Jones Gibson (@euniquejb)
Eunique is a wife, mother, and the founder and publisher of Because of Them We Can (BOTWC). Because of Them We Can (@becauseofthem) is a campaign and platform dedicated to commemorating Black excellence.
Eunique is also the creator of the card game #CultureTags and the BOTWC Box, a subscription service dedicated to the education of all children regarding the historic contributions of Black Americans to American society.
Bilphena Yahwon (@goldwomyn) is a Baltimore-based writer originally from Liberia, West Africa. The Womanist Reader is her online library featuring free texts from Black women writers, and Bilphena herself takes a womanist (one step further than a feminist) approach to her writing. She writes about the immigrant experience, blackness, and healing.
Founder Jaimee A. Swift (@JaimeeSwift) is a PhD candidate at Howard University researching Black Politics, International Relations, and Comparative Politics. Brand and Web Designer Keshia White (@keshiamwhite) owns Keshia M. White Designs, LLC and has been recognized by Adobe for her agency's expertise in brand strategy.
According to their bio: “Black Women Radicals is a Black feminist advocacy organization dedicated to uplifting Black women’s radical activism. We are here & always have been.”
Black Women Radicals has recently launched their website, featuring the blog “Voices in the Movement,” the Black Women Radicals Database (BWRD) chronicles prominent Black women from across the diaspora, and monthly events for Black women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people called Community Conversations.
Sophia Roe (@Sophia_roe)
Sophia lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a classically trained chef, wellness advocate, and influencer. She is a powerful storyteller and provides daily, actionable advice in addition to leading transformative workshops, classes, and retreats.
Nigerian-American sisters Lola and Nikki have both made names for themselves as journalists.
Lola earned her journalism degree from New York University and has made a career for herself in the features and entertainment industry, writing for publicantions such as the New York Times, Essence, and Marie Claire.
Nikki earned her degree from the University of Virginia and is currently the GQ Deputy Fashion Director.