Social Justice

Lessons Learned from #amplifymelanatedvoices

Lessons Learned from #amplifymelanatedvoices

(Note: I use the term “people of color” throughout this post to refer to anyone who is non-white: Black, Indigenous, Latinx, etc. While the majority of the content I consumed last week was from Black voices and centered on issues Black people face, I was also listening to and sharing the voices of other people of color.)

Last week I participated in #amplifymelanatedvoices on Instagram, which means:

  • I pressed pause on all of my own content on social media and here on the website.
  • I reposted content from melanated voices on social media. (You can view much of this content under the “BLM” highlight located in my Instagram bio.)
  • I muted white people that I follow and tried to exclusively consume content from non-white folks.

This experience was incredibly educational and eye opening. Here is what I learned:

1. I need to follow more people of color.

Once I started trying to mute all of the white people I follow, I quickly realized just how many people that is. I ended up not actually muting everyone simply because that would have taken hours! Instead, I muted the loudest/most frequent white voices in my feed and simply avoided everyone else by scrolling past their posts and not clicking on their stories.

The number of people left was….too small. I knew going into this that the majority of people I follow are white, but I didn’t realize just how few people of color I follow. This was eye opening!

2. I found some amazing new people of color to follow!

Once I realized the gap in my feed, I tried to start filling it with the voices of people of color. Here are just a few. Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list of people to follow, just some new ones to me last week:

@rachel.cargle – Rachel Cargle is a teacher and storyteller with lots of great content related to anti-racism. I’m honestly a little embarrassed to admit I wasn’t already following her!

@monachalabi – Mona Chalabi is an artist who creates amazing infographics.

@15percentpledge – 15 Percent Pledge is an organization dedicated to asking brands to pledge 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. This statistic is significant because Black people make up 15% of the population in the United States.

@wastefreemarie –  Marie Beecham is an advocate for people and the planet and has lots of great information, inspiration, and actionable steps related to racial and environmental justice.

@dominiquedrakeford – Dominique Drakeford is a sustainability advocate who seeks to bring melanin to the forefront of sustainable fashion, beauty, and well being.

@entrylevelactivist – This account seeks make activism more relatable and less overwhelming. I’m actually not sure if this account is run by a person of color or a white person, but they have a lot of good anti-racism content.

3. I felt more engaged.

Only listening to people of color during a week when there was so much public discourse surrounding anti-racism gave me a lot of education as well as clarity about action steps I needed to take. My Instagram feed left me feeling inspired, outraged, heartbroken, in awe–so many emotions. All of the content was engaging. Only focusing on the voices that matter the most right now let me dive deeper into anti-racism work and really engage on a level I hadn’t before reached.

4. I learned so much.

I learned so much about anti-racism as well as the history/context of racism in the United States from the melanated voices I was following. There is no way to dig into all of it in a single blog post, nor do I think myself qualified to teach others about these topics. But just a few things I learned more about last week:

  • Indigenous leadership in sustainability
  • Paying Black people for their labor in educating white folks
  • The creation of the police force in the United States
  • Defunding the police
  • Black Wall Street
  • Specific incidents of police brutality/murder that I hadn’t previously heard about
  • Toxic white women tears
  • Specific talking points I can use when I am discussing issues of racism/anti-racism
  • Moving beyond a focus on racism to a focus on Black excellence
  • A greater understanding of the deep emotional pain and trauma Black folks have been and are experiencing in the U.S.

….and so much more! And this was all in one week!

5. I had less engagement on my social media posts.

I was reposting content from people of color on Instagram and Facebook last week. Those posts got way less engagement than I typically receive on my own content. Frankly, that pisses me the hell off. These were extremely well done original artwork and graphic pieces by Black creators, and they deserved way more likes than my amateur photos. It pained me to realize that a photo of a freaking LAUNDRY POD gets 7 times more likes on Instagram than posts about what we can do to fight systemic racism in the wake of thousands of murders of Black people.

6. I am leaving some white people muted.

I found that I really liked having certain accounts muted last week and have left them that way. I’m not quite ready to unfollow entirely, so I like the mute option to test the waters.

7. I am committed to continuing to amplify melanated voices.

People of color have so much wisdom, creativity, knowledge, and talent to offer, yet are sometimes ignored or overlooked in white-dominated spaces. Last week only served to drive that point further home and helped me see how many amazing voices are already out there sharing important messages. I am making it a priority to continue to share content from people of color on social media in order to amplify their voices and messages.

If anyone has thoughts on any of this or wants to share their own experience with #amplifymelanatedvoices, please do so in the comments!

xoxo Laura

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