This week, heck this entire year so far, has been nothing short of eye-opening. I guess that’s why it’s called 2020 (see quote below.) In a matter of 6 months, it managed to become THE year that triggered the entire world – from devastating natural disaster (Australian wildfires – remember those?) to two deadly pandemics (COVID-19 & Racism).) To be frank, it woke us the F* up from our slumber of entitlement & privilege that’s been LONG overdue – like 400+ years overdue.
I’m a different person today than I was 3 months ago, a week ago, a day ago, 2 hours ago – and I couldn’t be more grateful for the continuous opportunity to educate myself to be a better person throughout it all. Although I prided myself as being an ally all these years, diversified my friend group in this beautiful space, and felt like I spoke my heart in times of discomfort, I’ll admit what I felt was enough was clearly not even close to enough. In fact, I could’ve done SO MUCH MORE with this platform, both on & offline. It took ANOTHER murder of a Black man by a White cop to shake me & many others awake to recognize what’s BEEN HAPPENING, and for that I’m so ashamed.
But what matters now is what I’m going to do to reflect personal & professional change going forward, how I’m going to ACT in response to what I believe in. I recognize my privilege and understand that I will never understand, but I promise to continue to stand in support now & indefinitely. There are no words to explain how truly sorry I am that it came to this moment in time in order for the Black community to be completely and respectfully heard.
While there are a lot of influencers in my position recognizing their privilege and doing the work, some better than others I’ll admit, I too want to express my determination to continue sharing my support following this week of muting myself to listen & learn. 7 days isn’t enough to reflect dramatic change, but every day from here on is a day closer to changing the world. So here’s what I’ve done in the past week as I stayed on mute & here’s what I promise to continue doing as we go forward in this fight:
No matter how many books, articles, podcasts, documentaries, or the alike I throw myself into, none of them will ever help me to fully understand what it’s like to be a Black in America. But I’ll continue to source them as often and frequently as I can to better recognize the serious flaws of our country and the importance of what we must continue to do to achieve much-needed change.
One book I strongly recommend is White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. It was published in 2018 so its fairly recent in terms of being up-to-date before 2020; nonetheless, a must-read for those of us needing a serious wake-up call. You should also watch Just Mercy and 13th on Netflix – raw, gut-wrenching and heart-breaking but necessary to share.
DONATE & SIGN PETITIONS
In the past week, I’ve donated to several organizations, including the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, & Fair Fight, and to the GoFundMe’s supporting George Floyd’s funeral expenses and the families of Ahmaud Arbery & Breonna Taylor. In addition, I signed petitions to support justice in their names as well.
Going forward, I will also be donating portions of my affiliate sales to support change. Although I haven’t been making much money these days due to the first Pandemic, I’ll still ensure something gets donated each month and gradually work up towards a healthy, monthly contribution.
Now’s the time to have those difficult conversations with friends & family, especially those much older and having grown up in different times. Hate is a learned behavior and the best way to prevent it begins at home through discussion. I’ll admit I shied away from having these uncomfortable conversations when someone said something or if I saw it posted on social media; but no more. I’m calling people out as I see such behavior, with constructive intention, because I believe if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
I’ve also noticed a lot of people chose to unfollow me in the past week. Whether it’s because they don’t agree with what I support, how I’ve chosen to reflect my support, or if they need a mental break from another influencer sharing resource after resource – whatever the reason, it’s ok. At the end of the day, it’s shown me who’s truly part of the tribe I’ve worked so hard to build these past 7 years. These are the people that get me, support me, and align with me – these are the people I’m focusing my attention on.
SUPPORT BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES
I’ve shopped from several Black-owned businesses over the years, but I’ve since expanded this list to include some seriously amazing brands I’m so happy I came across during this past week alone. Here are some of my most recent discoveries thanks to some awesome friends who put several round-ups together:
- Riot Swim – effortlessly luxe swimwear pieces
- ByChari – handmade & customized minimalist jewelry
- Fe Noel – beautiful robes, swimsuits, and ready-to-wear pieces that will literally make your life a happier place
- Petit Kouraj – gorgeous, summer-approved woven bags handmade in Haiti
- Briogeo – 100% cruelty-free haircare products with natural ingredients
- The Lip Bar – vegan, cruelty-free lip colors that are beautiful on every complexion
- Klur.Co – eco-inclusive, clean, sustainable skincare
- Oui The People – efficacious, thoughtful, and damned good products that help you feel amazing in your own skin
- Domain – gorgeous collection of ceramics, throw pillows, dish towels, and display-worthy dishwashing supplies + cute “sundries” that make perfect gifts
- McBride Sisters – sister-owned wine label corking bottles in California & New Zealand (thanks Erica for introducing me!)
- Jungalow – home decor with a bold, bold, eclectic style inspired by nature & sourced around the world (side note: I’ve been following Justina Blakeney for years but I’m so happy to be rediscovering her amazing home decor pieces!)
- The 125 Collection – candles categorized by quote, instead of a name, to make finding the right vibe easier
– – Happy to include more to this list! Please share them in the comments below.
INCREASE AWARENESS BEHIND A BRAND’S DIVERSITY
When it comes to my job as influencer, I failed to recognize the problem behind the lack of diversity involving several brands I previously worked with or shopped from. This week brought true intentions to light and sadly, I’ve realized there are several brands I used to admire that I won’t be working with in the future or shopping from any longer; because they don’t align with my beliefs or intentions when it comes to supporting diversity in the influencer space as best they should. On the flip side, a lot of brands did recognize their mistakes, admitted to them, and pledged to do better – with time, we’ll know the validity of that but still, it’s a step in the right direction. Going forward, I’ll hold myself responsible for making sure a brand I choose to work with on a campaign reflects diversity in its influencer pool; I should have been more aware and more diligent about that from the start, which I recognize now and ashamed for not having done so sooner.
As my great friend Ashli said to me in a convo we had this past week, “You can’t feel bad about what you didn’t know before. But if your eyes open and you decide to close them again for convenience, that’s the problem. And you’re not doing that.” We can’t punish ourselves for not understanding the severity behind the movement until now because our privilege has shielded it from us. Privilege isn’t something we choose ourselves, but something that is chosen for us at birth. We can, however, put our privilege aside by taking what we’ve learned & listened to and forming our supportive words into action by holding ourselves accountable and responsible going forward. This isn’t an overnight fix but something we can gradually help to resolve day-by-day, hour-by-hour. I promise to continue doing my part not just now while it’s fresh, but ongoing and throughout my career going forward. It’s time to put in the work and I have faith that as a result of our efforts, 2020 will lead us with the light, that’s so boldly shining into our eyes, towards a better world, with less darkness, less hatred, and MORE strength in our community.
Photo Sources: @fredandfar, @sir_twitch_alot, @spiritdaughter