I wish we could say we didn’t see this coming. But we saw this coming.
I wish we could say, “This isn’t the America we know.” But THIS IS America.
I wish we could say all of this will go away after January 20th. But let’s remember, this ugliness will exist well after January 20th (just like it existed for hundreds of years before this), unless all of us actively show up every day in the ways that we can to change that.
Like many of you, I’m disappointed and disgusted by what happened at the nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021. But unfortunately, I’m not surprised by it. Trump has welcomed and fanned the flames of violence, racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism since day 1, and now, at the tail end of his record losses as the first president since 1932 to not only lose reelection but also the House and Senate, he vindictively incited a mob. Make no mistake, Trump vindictively incited this mob because he lost in a fair and lawful election. Let that sink in.
The past several days have been dark and difficult to digest — so my hope for you for the next few weeks, however you can, look for quiet and solace when you need it. Protect your spirit and your energy — making sure to step away from news scrolling (and social media scrolling) before it turns into a deep spiral. The weeks ahead won’t magically fix the situation we’re in, so much like any fight worth fighting, it’s for the long haul. A marathon if you will, not a sprint. And like any long race, we all would benefit from pacing ourselves as best we can. Go for a walk around the neighborhood with a friend, call a loved one, pick up a new book, watch a documentary. Be soft with yourself right now. Be soft with others.
And in efforts to celebrate victories when they come our way, I don’t want us to lose sight of what happened in Georgia last week either. Thanks to the amazing efforts of Stacey Abrams and other grassroots get-out-the-vote activists and organizers, we now have the first Black senator and the first Jewish senator in Georgia! Despite all the fear and uncertainty that’s floating around right now, I’m trying to focus on the determination and the perseverance we witnessed in Georgia’s Senate runoff race as my guiding light. Perhaps it can be a light for you, too. Again, let that sink in.
Lastly, I want to address what’s been floating around a lot in my Story timeline (and maybe yours as well?) — that being the debate over whether or not influencers have some sort of moral obligation to comment on and address major, current events, particularly racism in this country and the attempted insurrection by white supremacists we witnessed at a sitting President’s request. Let me back up and reiterate a few things that I’m positive most of you already know, but I think it bears repeating. I know I’m not the news — and I definitely wouldn’t want you to trust me as your sole news source. I know much of my day to day content focuses on more light-hearted topics — fashion, travel guides, documentaries, art, culture — but as I think I’ve set a precedent over the years, I also value and pride myself in my multidimensional interests. The older I get in this industry, the more I feel compelled to speak out on subjects and issues that both interest and trouble me, whether or not they impact me or my sphere directly. The truth is, we’re all incredibly multi-faceted people and to think influencers should feel relegated to “staying in their lane” is counterintuitive to why I think this space became such a creative haven and safe space for us all. Didn’t we go into this industry largely because we could define our own lanes?
By now, over the years, you’ve come to realize I don’t shy away from tackling substantive issues but I don’t do it because it’s easy. It’s far from easy to talk about uncomfortable subjects. No, I talk about these things because I do believe there’s power in influencing the conversation in the public arena, as it pertains to shaping and reshaping ideas, opinions and thoughts. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you, the public arena revolves around social media — and to have a platform, of any size, in this space comes with a degree of responsibility, one that I don’t think we should take for granted. If I can share intimate details of my life with you all, from breakups to struggles with self-image, I think we can also discuss important societal topics, even if we don’t necessarily see eye to eye on them. I would rather have a spirited, productive debate than a tone-deaf avoidance of the elephant in the room.
All that said, I know I won’t always have the right things to say, in which case, I’ll try to find and amplify others who do. And when it comes to other influencers, similarly, I’m not here to shame anyone into speaking out, because I realize there’s no one way to go about this. We all lead busy, complex lives and we all process traumatic events differently and at our own paces. But I do think it’s imperative for influencers to at least acknowledge the atrocity of events when they happen and condemn the actions where necessary. To avoid it, to dismiss it, to say “I only share positive things” or “I’m a distraction and an escape” is wildly irresponsible when you think about how high these stakes are, especially for Black and POC communities who don’t have the luxury of “escaping” their reality. As my friend Ailsa of Happy Go Curly so poignantly said last week, “We don’t sit with the things that make us uncomfortable. It’s too much for us.” My hope, dear readers and friends, if you’re still reading this, is that we can all sit with things that make us uncomfortable far more often. And think about them. And discuss then. And debate them. And understand them and hopefully, in the process, each other as well.
As I said earlier, please be soft with yourself this week. And with each other.