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02.05.2020

How Instagram Influencers Impact My Racial Equity Work

By Lindsay Hastings, Annual Giving Manager

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After a few years of racial equity work, I have been annoyed at my slow growth in becoming anti-racist. Last year, I decided to set a goal that was rooted in action: Be cognizant and intentional about the media I consume.

Like most people, I choose who to follow or like on Instagram, what I binge on Netflix and which friends I turn to for book and podcast recommendations. In the past year, I have been more intentional about who I ask and what I consume.

Instagram has been a place where I have been the most intentional. There are so many accounts out there teaching, explaining, guiding, encouraging and demanding white folks to do better. I love it, and I very much appreciate their points of views.

At first, I did a lot of nodding along. I agreed with them, clapped for them and then kept on in my Instagram scroll. But lately, I have been challenging myself to push it further. I keep asking myself if I am doing anything different based on this information I am absorbing. Other white people are asking me and now I’m asking myself: “What is the action? What is the next step?”

So here are some of my action steps in Instagram:

  1. Follow, like and comment: These folks are dedicating a lot of their time, energy and emotional labor. Often times, these accounts have been created as a means to build audiences for speaking engagements, workshops and other professional goals. I needed to do my part and show them I am engaging with their content and promoting their brand, knowledge and voice.
  2. Give my resources, too: Social media is weird. I can look at stories and posts, take what I want, and never really form a relationship with the person I am following. There are some pretty easy ways that I have changed this dynamic. A few accounts have Patreon or share their Venmo. I can spare a few dollars or become a monthly supporter. I don’t want to take and not give. This work requires partnership.
  3. Use what I learn: I interact with my boss, co-workers and friends, and at some point they offer advice, suggestions or literally teach me how to do something. In those interactions, I typically will do some aspect of what I have learned. Why as a white person does that feel so difficult with racial equity work? So now, when I learn something on Instagram, I have been taking a moment to think about what I learned. And then a moment to think about what I will do with what I learned. And then (the most important part) actually DO IT.
  4. Follow the fun accounts: I am white, and I have a lot of white friends. My Instagram feed is a mishmash of content: friends I actually know, famous animals, a lot of house-decorating and then accounts related to news/learning. I was seeking out and following accounts to teach me about racial equity and anti-racist work, but I wasn’t following many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) accounts merely because they are cool, interesting, fun and engaging. That was a tough realization. So, I started following accounts to expand my community, even if it starts in my Instagram community. I need to have people who do not look like me, think like me or navigate life like me to be in my community. And I learned, I have to intentionally seek that out.

So, I hope white people reading this will mix up what you are consuming. Be more intentional about the spaces you navigate towards and what you are taking from them.  Challenge yourself to take small steps on the road to hopefully giant leaps in your anti-racist work. Both are incredibly important.

Here are a few Instagram accounts I follow who are shaping a better community for us all:

@advancementproject
@britthawthorne
@do_the_stankyleg
@powerfulblackstories
@rachel.cargle (She is leading a great daily challenge for white folks to #DoTheWork during Black History Month!)
@the.root
@traceeellisross

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About the Author

As Annual Giving Manager at Treehouse, Lindsay Hastings focuses on expanding philanthropic support for youth in foster care with members of the Treehouse donor community.


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