It shouldn’t have taken another death to act as the catalyst for change. No one should have had to see the life be pressed out of George Floyd. We shouldn’t have needed the gut-wrenching 911 call from Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend. We shouldn’t have needed another death, another battle. But we did. People are speaking out and speaking up, learning how to become better allies, and promising to change the way we do business. Social platforms like Instagram have given rise to all voices, including black activists screaming that black lives matter. White people need to be there to listen.
If you’re white and you weren’t listening before, now is the time to be better. To listen and to amplify the voices of black activists and people with lived experience. It’s not enough to be not racist and to be silent. We must speak up and be loud. This is our fight.
When George Floyd called out for his mom, I heard. He summoned all mothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, and brothers. He called for us all. We were supposed to protect him, and we failed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile…. We can’t fail any more.
There is no such thing as other people’s children — they are all ours. We need to protect all children, all people, from police brutality, explicit racism, implicit bias. Systems of justice that are sources of the deepest injustices. We need to identify the racist behaviours in ourselves, our loved ones, our community. And we can’t be silent. We can’t be afraid of saying the wrong thing — us white folx are going to say the wrong thing. We need to be willing to be corrected by black activists, and to change, not get defensive. Listen to BIPOC voices and the voices of black activists, and amplify them. Support businesses run by people of colour. Put our bodies between black activists and police officers. Correct leaders in our companies. Have uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinners. Show up.
And let’s make sure that when this moment in history passes, we don’t fall silent again. That we don’t go back to white privilege and white comfort, apathy and complicity. To keep black activists and black voices in our minds and on the forefront, change your feed. Follow black activists and people of colour so that when the noise stops, the silence doesn’t deafen us. When all the #blacklivesmatter posts become spo ra di c, you still see POC speaking about their lived experiences. Normalize black people like we’ve normalized black culture. Listen to their stories and transform yourself into a good ally, always growing and always listening.
(Beautiful feature image collage by Massogona Sylla)
Rachel Cargle | @rachel.cargle
Rachel Cargle is a public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activism and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood. Her social media platforms boast a community of over 315k where Rachel guides conversations, encourages critical thinking and nurtures meaningful engagement with people all over the world.
Layla F. Saad | @laylafsaad
Layla F. Saad is a New York Times bestselling author, anti-racism educator, international speaker, and podcast host on the topics of race, identity, leadership, personal transformation and social change.
Tamika D. Mallory | @tamikadmallory
Tamika Danielle Mallory is an American activist. She was one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March, for which she and her three other co-chairs were recognized in the Time 100 that year. Mallory is a proponent of gun control, feminism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Jessica Wilson, MS. RD. | @jessicawilson.msrd
Jessica Wilson, MS. RD. drives progress and advancement by fostering curiosity, building capacity for change, and inviting constructive challenge. Jessica questions the status quo, and that which makes us comfortable when doing our work. She asks us all to think critically about how we have arrived at our conclusions and developed the frameworks from which we engage.
Blair Amadeus Imani | @blairimani
Blair Imani is a critically-acclaimed historian, outspoken advocate and activist, and dynamic public speaker. The author of two historical books: Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History (2018) and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream (2020), she centers women and girls, global Black communities, and the LGBTQ community. She serves as the official ambassador of Muslims for Progressive Values, one of the oldest progressive Muslim organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and she dedicates her platform to advocating for the rights of marginalized people around the world.
Alishia McCullough | @blackandembodied
Alishia McCullough is a social justice warrior, author, counselor, and promoter of fat liberation and racial healing. McCullough wrote the book Blossoming, which discusses mental health, self-love, healing, and societal expectations. Her Instagram is filled with informative, motivational, and touching quotes about the Black community.
Kendriana Washington | @kendriana.speaks
Kendriana Washington is a writer, artist, and organizer curating brazen conversations in art and digital media. Her 11-year career started while working in community education at the Dallas Museum of Art and in public relations for gallery events at the Dallas Design District. She also organized collaborative shows with local artists as a performance poet while she was a student at The University of Texas at Dallas. In her early twenties, she focused her organizing efforts on the Dallas Muslim community, where she taught grade school children, served as a care-taking volunteer, and hosted charity projects for low-income immigrant communities. In her mid-twenties, she centered community building with Black Lives Matter and various grassroots Black liberation movements in Dallas. She began studying intersectional pro-Black feminism and the Black arts movement, which stoked her interest in political art styles, including zine-making, storytelling, and self-portraiture through photography, collage, and mixed media. At that time, she also developed an interest in international art, prompting her to visit Mexico City for a month, where she self-studied Mexican art and culture.
Monique Melton | @moemotivate
Monique Melton is an anti-racism educator, published author, international speaker, and host of the Shine Brighter Together podcast. She is also the founder of Shine Brighter Together, which is a community dedicated to healthy relationships & diverse unity.
Ivirlei Brookes | @ivirlei
Ivirlei Brookes is an entrepreneur and business and mindset coach for creatives. She is obsessed with mindset transformation and passionate about using her voice to help goal driven women realize their fullest potential and move with intention. You might recognize her from her viral video “White Women who Truly Want to Help: Here’s how.”
Black Women Radicals | @blackwomenradicals
Black Women Radicals (BWR) is a Black feminist advocacy organization dedicated to uplifting and cultivating Black women’s radical political activism. Rooted in intersectional and transnational feminisms and Womanisms, we are committed to empowering Black radical women activists and centering their political and intellectual contributions to the field of Black Politics across time, space, and place in Africa and in the African Diaspora.
Art Hoe Collective | @arthoecollective
The online movement allows POC to portray themselves on their own terms, free from stereotypes and mediated preconceptions of their identities, and has been embraced by Dazed cover star Amandla Stenberg and teen polymath Willow Smith.
Brittany Packnett Cunningham | @mspackyetti
Brittany Packnett Cunningham is a leader at the intersection of culture and justice. Cited by President Barack Obama as a leader whose “voice is going to be making a difference for years to come,” Brittany is an unapologetic educator, organizer, and writer. Her popular 2019 TED Talk on Confidence has garnered nearly 3 million views worldwide. Brittany is the author of the forthcoming book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, with One World.
Color Of Change | @colorofchange
Color Of Change helps you do something real about injustice. We design campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward. Until justice is real.
Raquel Willis | @raquel_willis
Raquel Willis is a Black queer transgender activist, writer and speaker dedicated to inspiring and elevating marginalized individuals, particularly transgender women of color. She is the former executive editor of Out magazine and a former national organizer for Transgender Law Center (TLC). She’s also a part of Echoing Ida, a national Black women and nonbinary writers’ collective.
Ashlee Marie Preston | @ashleemariepreston
Ashlee Marie Preston is an American media personality, journalist and activist, the first trans woman to become editor-in-chief of a national publication, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and the first openly trans person to run for state office in California. Originally from Kentucky, she moved to Los Angeles and began transitioning at age 19. She first rose to public attention after publicly confronting Caitlyn Jenner over her support for the Trump administration. She contributed her writing to a number of publications, and has been recognized for her activism by various media organizations and companies.
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson | @ayanaeliza
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, strategist, and Brooklyn native. She is founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities. You’ll find her at the nexus of science, policy, and communication, passionately advocating for coastal communities, and building solutions for ocean justice and our climate crisis.
Idg Peoples Movement | @indigenouspeoplesmovement
The Indigenous Peoples Movement is a collective of various indigenous peoples from all over the world, from all nations, uniting in the stand against issues that directly affect our lands, peoples, and respective cultures. This is a place where we can stand together, speak our truths and collaborate.
Myisha T. Hill | @myishathill
Myisha is a Mental Health Activist, Speaker, Author, and Life Synergist™, who loves to support heart-centered women entrepreneurs striving to ditch overwhelm, rewrite a new story in life and run an amazing business. You can be an amazing woman. business owner, raise awesome children and thrive in life and business.
Ibram X. Kendi | @ibramxk
Ibram X. Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices. He is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the Founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC. A professor of history and international relations, Kendi is a contributor at The Atlantic and CBS News. He is the author of THE BLACK CAMPUS MOVEMENT, which won the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize, and STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF RACIST IDEAS IN AMERICA, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016. At 34 years old, Kendi was the youngest ever winner of the NBA for Nonfiction. He grew up dreaming about playing in the NBA (National Basketball Association), and ironically he ended up joining the other NBA.
Liz Kleinrock | @teachandtransform
Liz Kleinrock is an anti-bias anti-racist educator-in-progress and consultant based in Los Angeles, California. A transracial adoptee, Liz was born in South Korea and grew up in Washington, DC. She attended Sidwell Friends School from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where she graduated with a BA in International Area Studies and Children’s Studies.
Robyn Maynard | @policingblack
Robyn Maynard is the author of Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present (Fernwood 2017). The book is a CBC national bestseller, currently in its third printing, designated as one of the “best 100 books of 2017” by the Hill Times, listed in The Walrus‘s “best books of 2018”, shortlisted for an Atlantic Book Award, the Concordia University First Book Prize and the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction, and the winner of the 2017 Annual Errol Morris Book Prize. This work received a starred review in Publishers Weekly as well as glowing coverage in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, Now Toronto, Maclean’s, and the Ottawa Citizen. In fall 2018 the book was published in French with Mémoire d’encrier, titled NoirEs sous surveillance. Esclavage, répression et violence d’État au Canada. Translated by Catherine Ego, it recently won the 2019 Prix de libraries in the category of “essais”.
Dr. Shay-Akil McLean, PhD | @hood_biologist
Dr. Shay-Akil McLean is a PhD student in Integrative Biology studying STS, philosophy of science, bioethics, evolutionary genetics and how intersectional inequality impacts human biology. For his Masters work, he conducted research on how systemic social and economic inequality influences the dental health of poor African Americans in Buffalo, NY. His interests lie in studying how social and economic inequalities influence health and contributes to the perpetuation of health inequalities. Through the analysis of gene expression data, human osteological remains, medical/dental records, and historical demographic methods, he aims to bring attention to how the relationships that marginalized populations have to power structures contributes to dictating who gets sick, when, where, why, and how?
Munroe Bergdorf | @munroebergdorf
Munroe Bergdorf is an English model and activist. She has walked several catwalks for brands including Gypsy Sport at both London and NYC Fashion Weeks. Bergdorf was the first transgender model in the UK for L’Oréal, but was dropped within weeks after a racial row. In February 2018, she was appointed as an LGBT adviser to the Labour Party, but resigned the following month citing tabloid pressure. Bergdorf won ‘Changemaker of the Year’ at the 2018 Cosmopolitan Awards, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2019 by the University of Brighton. She joined UN Women UK as an advocate in 2019, supporting its #DrawALine campaign, aiming to put a stop to female genital mutilation (FGM).
Changing Your Feed
We’ve all felt a dissonance when we scroll through Instagram. That dissonance happens when the content we’re seeing doesn’t align with our values. Our inner and most genuine selves. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a makeup tutorial or a marketing course, but when someone is pushing that at you in the midst of a huge social justice movement, it seems tone deaf. This is a hard time to stay grounded, stay present, but we have to.
When news of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the Black Lives Matter movement begins to fade, let’s make sure we keep our values in our hearts and speak truths. Follow people that move you, black activists and anti-racist allies. Learn from them, amplify them. Let’s not get caught on our heels.