There are few push notifications that elicit a reaction from me, but last week, when Screen Time popped up and said that I averaged eight hours and 38 minutes a day on my phone, I was slightly (...okay, extremely) appalled. And then I followed it up with a few moments of serious self-reflection.
This number might not seem entirely shocking as it appeared on the phone of someone whose nine-to-five job revolves around social media. But I usually hover somewhere in the five-and-a-half range, so the disparity felt substantial to me—and as I investigated where those additional three hours came from, I realized that the majority could be traced to the wave of new faces, lessons, and content I was digesting on social media.
Over the previous month, I was more intentional with my time. I spent significantly fewer hours creating, speaking, or mindlessly scrolling on Instagram than I did reading, saving, note-taking, listening, screenshotting, and regramming. I followed quite a few new accounts—educators and influencers and graphic designers and thought leaders—whose voices, captions, stories, and calls to action deeply moved and motivated me. My saved folder looks completely different today than it did in early May, and I'm embarrassed to admit that it wasn't nearly as educational, constructive, interesting, or colorful as it is now. These new perspectives have added a richness to a space that could regularly feel so frivolous and ephemeral, especially to someone who has an ongoing, internal battle about choosing said space as a career.
To be clear, this acknowledgment isn't for head pats. It's to give you context, and to let you know that, as a person who works in social media, I see it as my duty to source and amplify the incredible people doing meaningful and thought-provoking work across social platforms. I know that it's critical to stay engaged, even through the overwhelming and emotional realities of our current climate, so moving forward, I'll be using my social media experience to round up the most impactful content I've absorbed each month here, on the blog.
While I've deemed the following eight posts as the most influential to me, this is, of course, a fraction of what's out there. If you have the emotional energy, I'd love for you to share the most powerful post, video, graphic, or photo you've seen in the comments below so we can continue to elevate the individuals and communities who have been silenced for far too long. Here are eight of the most impactful things I saw on social media this month:
Most impactful quote: "Ask yourself: Why did you wait for a pleasant-looking white woman, who would coddle your feelings and use cute language, to come out with a book when Black intellectuals and Black professors and Black [anti-racist] educators and Black academics...have been writing about this forever?"
If you're looking for a blunt, brilliant, tell-it-like-it-is anti-racist educator to support, I implore you to follow Weeze immediately. I've become a hardcore devotee of hers over the past month: I'm currently taking her "Culture of Whyteness: The Basics" webinar, am a member of her community through Podia, and plan to enroll in her Dismantle program as soon as it opens up. Weeze's methods challenge me, encourage me to think critically, and inspire me to do and be better.
When I tuned in to this IG Live about how problematic Robin DiAngelo and her now New York Times' best-selling book White Fragility have been, the tension, discomfort, and immediate defensiveness I felt made me want to x out—so I knew I had to keep watching. A few weeks ago, when our team was eager to begin our education, we all jumped on the White Fragility bandwagon and dove in immediately (many have even finished it). But after listening to feedback and some additional research, we see that we were promoting a book written by a white woman and could have done better.
There are too many valid and eye-opening points to name throughout the hour-long session, but Weeze's consistent use of the phrase, "You can't be the poison and the antidote," helped me realize that while White Fragility might be an easier pill to swallow (because Robin is white and identifies with the readers), we should be learning, listening to, and supporting the Black academics in the space. Of course, everyone is entitled to make their own informed decision on the matter, but Robin is capitalizing on a more palatable form of anti-racism education, so if you feel you can handle it (you can!), I ask you to join us in selecting other titles to read that are written by Black authors, who are more qualified based on their position in society alone. How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad are all excellent options.
Most impactful quote: "If anyone has followed me for a while, you probably know that I have lots of food issues, lots of body image issues. And people who decide yesterday to become an ally, after they have done anti-Black things in the past, would be like me saying that I'm going to become a chef and telling everyone how to eat healthy, when I have no idea how to eat healthy, I've never eaten healthy my entire life. Revisionist history is damaging and terrible. Anytime white people don't want to look bad, they just rewrite the story so they look better. That's harmful."
You might have watched Danielle's powerful IGTV from the end of May (which has garnered millions of views), where she rightfully expressed frustration at white allies' (and white women's) lack of action over the past few years, especially in the fashion industry. Her follow-up is equally as compelling—she states that non-Black people pursuing allyship is pointless if you haven't addressed, acknowledged, and apologized for previous anti-Black and racist behavior. As she writes in the description, "there is no statute of limitations on racism," and it's insulting to the Black community to watch people suddenly and publicly claim to be an ally (and recommend anti-racist podcasts, movies, and books) when they've actively participated in or perpetuated anti-Blackness within their circles. She uses her own personal experiences (from the quote above) as an analogy to describe how damaging and harmful these actions can be, and acknowledges that the work is going to be tough—and that there's no rule book for being a good ally—but it's essential to do it anyway in order to grow and learn. It's quick (five minutes), but really packs a punch.
Most impactful quote: "When those actions become a lifestyle, when you 'put your life on the line to take a risk,' (Dr. Bettina Love) you know you are becoming a co-conspirator."
Weeze and Trudi Lebron have an hour-long podcast episode dedicated to defining the terms ally, accomplice, and co-conspirator, but as an extremely visual learner, I found that this graphic from Britt Hawthorne and Jess Bird (which was inspired by the Pyramid of White Supremacy) solidified the concepts. Britt's clear differentiation between the three and the subsequent actions taken by each helped me untangle the words I'd seen thrown around a lot, but rarely explained. She provides tactical ways in which each shows up for marginalized communities (though there are obviously many more), and carves an achievable path for anyone who, like me, is committed to climbing the pyramid. The goal is co-conspirator, and I'm constantly and deliberately working to accept that I will need to sacrifice many of my own privileges to get there—but I've been comfortable simply remaining an ally for far too long.
Most impactful quote: "I want the viewer to see how much empty space is left in these lives, stories that will never be told, space that can never be filled. This emptiness represents holes in their families and our community, who will be forever stuck with the question, 'Who were they becoming?'"
Adrian Brandon, a Black artist who began his "Stolen" series in 2019, uses markers, pencil, and time as his mediums. He draws portraits of individuals who have lost their lives at the hands of the police, and spends a minute adding color for every year they lived. While they're all heartbreaking (and rage-inducing), Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown are especially tough to take in. His art really struck a chord with me, captures how fragile Black lives are in America, and manages to express so much loss within the confines of a single piece of paper.
Most impactful quote: "Language is super important. Remember, if you're a white person, or non-Black person, you have to remain teachable. It's very important for you to be vigilant and monitor your aggression or your defensiveness."
Sophia can do it all. She wants you to take care of your well-being! She creates delicious recipes (one of which Leslie highlighted on Tuesday)! She provides honest and useful tactics to begin conquering white supremacy! On this IGTV in particular, she reminds viewers about how much our language around anti-racism matters, and how crucial it will be be during tough-to-navigate conversations with family or friends. Since so many of us are listening to podcasts, watching movies, and reading books where these new-to-us words appear frequently, she recommends buying a notebook specifically for this new vocabulary, which I did. I've found it to be so helpful to define terms when I don't really know their definitions or origins, and after I write them down, I've been doing some further investigation (per her request). I know this education and familiarity with anti-racist language will be key to building confidence around these topics, and allow me to be a better co-conspirator.
Most impactful quote: "I will also say there's a need to be perfect. And I want to remind you that you are not perfect. That your allyship will not be perfect. Some of you are brand new to being an ally...so how could you expect that in two weeks, you know how to fully and thoroughly know how to support Black people? You don't."
All of Brandon's IGTVs have been enlightening, from his Good Ally vs. Effective Ally lesson, to his spot-on decoding of white peoples' current "identity crisis." But there are so. many. nuggets. of information and advice in this video that I've watched it nearly half a dozen times. He addresses the defensive tones and responses he's noticed from supposed "allies," and reminds viewers of the appropriate reaction to any honest or harsh feedback from Black folks. (Hint: It's to listen to, receive, and validate it). We need to be less concerned about our egos and how we're showing up (perfection isn't possible!), and instead focus on the matter at hand: the safety of Black lives. He's gentler than white people (like me) deserve, but his messages are effective and always resonate.
Most impactful quote: "That's the conversation I want white people to start having with their white family members: What's wrong with us? ...What are we so afraid of inside of ourselves that we constructed an entire world of disconnection and violence to protect us from ever having to look at ourselves? That's the work of whiteness right now, not sitting around having conversations about what Black people are doing with the shambles that you have left our community in."
While the world was cheering on Hayley (the teen who went viral for posting a TikTok of herself defending the BLM movement to her parents), Sonya was unpacking the problematic and alarming direction their argument took. The fact that white people can even debate the worth of Black peoples' lives is a glaring example of white supremacy, and we should instead be using our efforts to scrutinize the white privilege that allows us to entertain that conversation. I realized that this is the one time white people should be centering ourselves when discussing race, because we are the root of the problem. Sonya's address helped me reframe my perspective and prepared me for any future conversations I'll have in DMs or IRL.
Most impactful quote: "The laws in our country matter. They have a direct impact on our day-to-day lives and how something as simple as casting a vote, our most basic democratic right, is executed."
History with Hannah officially taught me more in seven minutes I learned during an entire semester of AP US Government. I didn't know anything about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, had little knowledge about the countless methods of voter suppression (and that the simple concept of registering to vote is, in and of itself, an act of voter suppression...but you should still take a moment to register now), or even why the census is actually incredibly important before I finished watching Hannah break it down for me. Watch, learn, and did I mention you should register to vote?