Katherine Davey Over
In our new normal of distance, virtual reality and WiFi glitches, social media has taken on a new role. I came across a campaign which was set to kick off Black History Month as I scrolled through Instagram in one of my breaks (or in a moment of procrastination, you decide): #ShareTheMicUK [@sharethemicuk].
70 renowned white women, with a combined Instagram following of more than 175 million, passed on their accounts to women of colour for 24 hours on 1st October 2020, ‘magnifying Black women & their work to accelerate global change’.
By sharing their elevated platforms, successful white women took an active role in promoting and celebrating successful black women. With a new, diverse audience, these women were able to introduce themselves; publicise their careers; share their experiences and perspectives; educate a new following, and amplify their voices. Sharing a voice in this way unifies black and white women: an essential step towards inclusivity, mutual understanding and acceptance.
The harrowing murder of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked a sequence of protests around the world against racial inequality and police brutality, and the acute, growing necessity for white people to take an active role as advocates for equality and to take a stand against racial discrimination in order for change to be possible was widely discussed.
After a push for education, it seems that Black History Month has come at a crucial time this year. An initiative like #ShareTheMicUK set to start a month of eye-opening insight and celebration of black lives spanning the past, present and future seems a relevant, accessible way to engage a diverse following of people with a world of new perspectives, experiences and culture.
Those involved exemplify that collaboration, understanding and acceptance are the fundamental premises of cultivating change
Moreover, the #ShareTheMicUK campaign feels doubly important as, by uniting successful women from a variety of demographics and backgrounds, those involved exemplify that collaboration, understanding and acceptance are the fundamental premises of cultivating change.
Funmi Fetto, a British-born Nigerian writer and beauty journalist, took over Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Instagram account for #ShareTheMicUK. Fetto uploaded three posts over the course of the day: a selfie introducing herself, her career and her purpose to Huntington-Whiteley’s 11.7m followers; an IGTV video unpicking her perspective on the importance of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and education, and a recommendation of four books for those wishing to get to grips with the issue of race.
The need for continuous, developing change will only be achieved through persistent education and advocacy
In her IGTV video, Fetto alluded to the issue of performative politics in her acknowledgment of how the Black Lives Matter movement is not ‘a moment or a hashtag’. The black tiles that filled our Instagram feeds as symbols of solidarity have been considered problematic, as what they represent tends to be forgotten about. The need for continuous, developing change will only be achieved through persistent education and advocacy.
After identifying that she is most commonly asked, ‘What can I do?’ by white women who feel helpless in relation to BLM, her response, ‘There has to be a desire to learn and a desire to keep on learning’ seems a simple yet highly effective proposition to initiate the beginning of white people taking on an active role in the fight for racial equality.
With this in mind, get involved with the events the university are putting on for Black History Month.
Katherine Davey Over
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