It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two months since the death of George Floyd, and the start of the Black Lives Matter protests seen around the world. There was also a huge movement to amplify melanated voices the first week of June, and we’ve all been able to have incredibly insightful conversations around systemic racism and social justice in the following months.
I was pretty hopeful back in June. A lot of non-Black people seemed committed to educating themselves and actively becoming anti-racist. A lot of non-Black influencers seemed to be using their platforms for change. Encouraging their audiences to read anti-racist literature. To shop at Black-owned businesses. Donate to social justice causes. They called for more diversity in the influencer industry. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I was floored that this many people seemed to care about this cause.
Well, fast forward to August. I’m going to be completely honest: it feels like we’ve reverted back to pre-George Floyd times a bit.
How to be a Black Influencer Ally
First things first: I know we weren’t going to talk about Black Lives Matter forever, and I’m not expecting for influencers to post about social justice and systemic racism on a daily basis. We’re going through a pandemic, and we’re all a little shaken up this year. I get it! A lot is going on.
Do you want to know why I’m a bit disappointed? Despite the fact that hundreds (if not thousands) of non-Black influencers posted a black square to their feeds and shared their favorite Black bloggers back in June, it really doesn’t seem like most of these non-Black influencers are making an effort to be inclusive on a long-term basis.
I was tagged in about a few hundred posts and articles back in June. People including me on lists such as “Best Black Travel Bloggers” or “Best Black Style Bloggers,” and I was even mentioned in a few articles on major news outlets as well. For that, I’m forever thankful. However, even though I was tagged by 100+ influencers and news outlets in June, some of those same non-Black influencers who made those roundups in June? Yeah, they did not include any Black bloggers or Black-owned businesses in the collaborations or features they put together in July and August.
One blogger that I follow proceeded to do a week-long IG Story collaboration with other bloggers the week after #AmplifyMelanatedVoices that didn’t include a single blogger of color. All those Nordstrom giveaways and try-on collaborations for the NSale? Black bloggers, for the most part, haven’t been asked to be a part of those either by their non-Black peers. I had some other Black bloggers message me saying that a few bigger bloggers unfollowed them after tagging them in a Black blogger roundup in June. Imagine someone saying that they liked your content, only to unfollow weeks later. It’s pretty dehumanizing to Black influencers that they were trending for a few weeks and ignored shortly after.
Now, there are some bloggers out there who genuinely care about the BLM movement and have backed it with their actions over the past few months. It is evident that they are working to become more inclusive, and to use their platforms for good. Jenn, Jess, Grace and Nicole all come to mind. Kudos to everyone who’s putting in the work!
However, the point of the post isn’t to call anyone out. It’s to get you to think about your allyship. Are you truly committed to being actively anti-racist? Do you still have the same feelings that you did back in June? Did you just get caught up and lose sight of the common goal? Here are a few ways you can get back on track.
The Ally Influencer’s Action Plan:
- Follow more influencers of color. Having a variety of voices in your feed is important. If you only follow people who look like you, that is a major problem! Why not take the time to follow some influencers of color over the next few weeks.
- Collaborate with like-minded, diverse influencers. You can partner with other influencers who don’t look like you—just saying! Take my friends Dana and Greta, for example. I’ve teamed up with them for some collabs in the past, and we look nothing alike (but deep down, I feel like we’re all sisters from another mister!) However, we do have similar audiences and interests, so that’s what makes a collaboration between us work super well.
- Support more minority-owned businesses. I’ll be the first to admit that as a style blogger, it’s easy to get caught up with what retailers I can earn a commission with by using affiliate links. There are a lot of small businesses that I can’t link with LikeToKnow.It, and admittedly, sometimes I would avoid those shopping at those retailers in the past.
Guys: that is not okay. One thing that this pandemic made me realize is that small businesses need your support now more than ever. Who cares if you can get a $4 commission off of a dress or not? I made an effort to shop at more Black-owned brands this summer, and I’m obsessed with some of the pieces I got and the customer service I received. You can expect to see far more minority-owned and female-owned small businesses featured here going forward!
- Hold brands accountable. Want to foster more diversity and inclusion in the influencer space? Before signing on to a brand partnership, ask the brand what the other influencers are going to be a part of the campaign. If you notice their list of influencers isn’t inclusive, recommend some influencers of color they should reach out to. Additionally, if you have to decline a project but know of another influencer of color that would be an excellent fit for it, send their name over to the brand as well!
- Use your platform for good. The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t over. It’s just getting started. Keep sharing petitions, anti-racist resources, and calling out social injustice.
Do you need to do this every day? No. However, if you see something, say something! And please: encourage your followers to vote this November!
How are you an ally to the Black influencer community? Let me know in a comment below!
Photo by Tom McGovern