Illustration artwork by Danielle Coke of @ohhappydani — you can shop her prints here!
Like many of you I’m sure, I’ve spent this past weekend reflecting. A lot.
Last night in particular, as helicopters flew above our apartment for hours after the protests had dispersed in downtown Manhattan, I laid in bed feeling a lot of things. Helpless. Heartbroken. Disgusted. Angry. Sad. Confused. But one thing I didn’t feel? Surprised. I was heavy-heartedly not surprised. George Floyd’s name and horrific murder joins a long list of racial injustices carried out over not just the past several years. But hundreds of years. It just feels more blatant because we have the technology in our pockets to document it. And share it.
As the air whooshed heavy outside, I thought back to a younger version of myself throughout the years, in middle school, in high school, learning about slavery, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow laws and the long, arduous road that lead up to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. I suppose there was (and still is) a naiveté that existed in my heart since then that much of the heavy work had been lifted all those years ago. While I am part Native American, I realize I pass as white and was raised in a predominantly white community. My privilege was always subconsciously palpable to me but my optimist’s disposition didn’t want to recognize the existence or vastness of it. That is my failure. And that is something I know, deep down, especially now, I need to address, reflect on and actively change. To do better. To do more. To step up. It is simply not enough to be “not racist.” I know I need to roll up my sleeves to do the education, reflection, listening and acting to become more anti-racist.
There is so much work to be done still — George Floyd’s name happens to be the latest addition to a long list of grievances. And the pain won’t end with him, until we channel our individual efforts inwards and in our immediate spheres of influence — our families, our friends, our workplaces and yes, our audiences, no matter how hard or uncomfortable the conversations may be. Systemic racism requires heavy dismantling — and one of our biggest levers to enact change lies in our power to vote (which is why I like to remind you guys all the time to register!). After that, it’s how we influence change in ourselves and those immediately around us that creates ripples; from that momentum, a wave is created. Let’s create that wave together.
Here’s how I am committing to becoming more anti-racist. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and any actions you’re actively taking on to reflect, learn and change. And if there’s anything I can do better, please know I always welcome constructive criticism. I may not have the right words today or tomorrow, but please know, I’m searching for them all the time and taking this time to listen to my black friends who DO have the words, the stories and the experiences to share. I hope you all can do the same.
- Actively diversify the content I share here on my platforms: I realize, being in the business of content creation, content is my currency. Content spreads idea. Content can reflect and change minds. And I want to do better in representing all types of POC in my work — from who I partner with for style challenges, who joins me for sponsored and non-sponsored posts alike, whose voices I include in my weekly Friday Favorites round ups, what designers and brands I support and who I share inspiration-wise in my Stories. Where there is curation of voices, I want to make sure I’m doing my absolute best to include more POC, and — here’s the important distinction — not simply because they are POC, but because I find their work inspiring, engaging, thought-provoking and moving.
- Push my advertising partners to do better when it comes to representation: I am certainly guilty of not asking who else is joining a campaign only to realize when all posts are published online, how one-dimensional it looks and feels. I promise you, I will do my due diligence of asking my potential brand partners who else they’re working with, and if there aren’t enough POC represented, I will happily recommend someone else to take my place.
- Donate 10% of my take-home pay from campaigns for the next two months to Black Lives Matter causes: If you’ve been following my sponsored IG posts and Stories, you know I’ve been donating 10% of my take home pay for campaigns to various COVID-19 relief organizations for the months of April and May. I would now live to pivot and channel 10% to various Black Lives Matter causes for June and July. I will not tie engagement to these posts to dollar spend — so regardless of how a post performs, I will be committed to donating a certain amount each time. Like before, I’ll share information about each organization when donating as well as links so you can join in donating if you are able to do so.
- Share and discuss these topics with you and often: And lastly, I think there’s a common misconception in the influencer space that everyone expects us to “stay in a lane.” Over the years, I’ve felt more and more disillusioned with that sentiment and I’ve shared my thoughts on various political and social issues near and dear to my heart. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve felt the social pressure or perhaps the discomfort around speaking out consistently. And that is my failure. You’ve undoubtedly now seen the watershed moment happen over the weekend. Influencers and brands who often don’t take a stance on anything as controversial as racial injustice are now speaking out. I’m relieved to see it. But I want to make sure this is not an isolated social feed flooding of quotes and well-intentioned messages.
Of course, I can only speak for myself here, so that is exactly what I will do. I commit to reading at least one anti-racism book a month. I realize we don’t often talk about books here on This Time Tomorrow — I feel a good amount of my friends already do a good job at monthly book discussions. But I do think there’s a significant void in these types of books being discussed in my immediate influencer space and I would be happy to initiate it, if you guys might find it helpful? Please let me know in the comments below. I finished James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time over the weekend and would love to discuss if anyone is up for it? I’m now currently reading Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain.
I would also like to actively watch more documentaries pertaining to the racist roots in this country. Over the weekend, we watched Baldwin’s I Am Not Your Negro at the recommendation of a reader and I cannot recommend it enough. I would be happy to discuss these types of documentaries here on the blog, if you’d be interested?
Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts and the actions you’re taking on becoming more actively anti-racist. My ultimate goal, as always, is make this a space for constructive, healthy conversations and I’d love for you guys to join me.