The advancement of black people in America has often involved allies — from Quaker abolitionists in the 1700s to white members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to non-black protesters for Black Lives Matter.
But a curious phenomenon is developing — the social media ally; advocates who are parlaying their love of black folks into large social media followings, speaking opportunities and even merchandise.
Jacob Mason, founder of SwirlMingle.com, has created a brand out of loving black women and has more than 54,000 Instagram followers.
Sam White, a Spring ’14 initiate of the black Kappa fraternity at Villanova University, achieved social media stardom when a video of him doing the fraternity’s shimmy went viral.
And we recently profiled Russell Schiller, who did a photo series dedicated to black women’s beauty at Howard University, the HBCU where he attends. He used the coverage of his photo series to promote his photography business, which now has an Instagram following of 18,000.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with publicly supporting black women in particular and black people in general, but it is a bit disconcerting that doing this affords non-blacks lucrative platforms that black folks doing similar things don’t have access to.
It also speaks to a deep schism within black culture. We claim to know that we are lit, magic and that we slay — which we DO — but we are deeply shocked when others see that in us and publicly proclaim it, to the point that we will elevate them out of our gratitude.
What do you think ladies? Is there anything wrong with creating a brand out of advocating for black women?