As a black woman influencer in America, my inbox has been flooded with questions about racism in the last weeks. My heart is heavy from current events, but the people waking up, asking questions, and fighting for change gives my family and I hope.
I’ve made a list of the most commonly asked questions and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. In no way can I speak for black people everywhere, and I won’t try to. I’m a mother, I’m a wife, and I’m a friend. I’m a business owner, an entrepreneur, and a social media influencer, and these are my thoughts:
1. How can I explain racism to my child?
There is no perfect conversation to have, the important thing is that you have it. My kids have had 5 year old kids tell them they don’t like black people, so it’s never too early.
For younger kids it is important to tell them that are mean people in this world (they already know this), and some people are mean to people because of the color of their skin. I would also touch on your own personal views and that you believe that we should always look for ways to stick up for others when they’re being treated unfairly, and specifically that we make sure we always do that for people of color.
For us, faith always factors into the conversation. We talk about how racism as sin and something that breaks God’s heart. We talk about how it’s important to Him that we strive to live our lives with love and kindness.
It is so important to have these conversations. Black parents have to have a million conversations like this with our kids and it break our hearts. It’s hard to talk about anything that doesn’t make our kids feel great inside, but please do it, it’s so so important. Be direct, because they can make a bigger difference than you know.
2. Do you have any other advice for raising our children differently?
Having honest conversations about racism is a start, but intentionally diversifying your life is just as important.
You need to talk about all people being equal and about black people positively, but you also need to show it with your actions. I encourage you to be intentional in bringing diversity into your home, your life, and your routines, to show that what you are preaching is truly in your heart. Don’t just watch movies with all white casts, read books from white authors, follow white influencers on Instagram, or have people in your home that only look just like you.
It truly does start at home. When your lives are less white washed, you will raise children that do not have engrained beliefs about other races. When they see black people in their lives, positively shown on their TV’s, in the books they read, and with the toys they play it will change their perception to one of inclusion and equality.
3. What is wrong with saying I don’t see color or teaching my children not to?
First, your kids see color even if you think you are teaching them not to. We all see color and that is not a bad thing. God made us uniquely different and we should embrace that. That is how change will truly happen. We aren’t all the same and when we celebrate those differences, it changes stereotypes and perceptions.
Saying “I don’t see color” can be harmful because it is taking away from acknowledging the issues people of color have in this country are facing. We need to acknowledge it so that they can be dismantled. There are many prejudices that every single American has, it is systematic and the messages have been everywhere since birth. We need to recognize them and not be passive about them. This will make the difference.
We don’t get to say “I don’t see color”, because our color is the first thing noticed. Saying that is privileged.
4. Life feels really hard for me, how can I have privilege when it doesn’t feel that way?
White privilege is not saying that you don’t have a hard life, or that bad things haven’t happened to you. No one in the world can bypass that. It means that your skin color is not something that is making your life harder.
White privilege is from systematic racism. There are many systems that have been put in place to oppress people of color for decades, and many of them are not been dismantled.
Studies show a black person is most likely to be hired if they have a white sounding name on their resume. They show that black children are disciplined harder than their white peers for the same issues in school and that blacks have dramatically longer prison sentences for the same crimes that a white person would commit. They show that generational wealth does not exist in black communities for a variety of reasons and that “redlining” still happens to encourage segregation and to keep black people occupying lesser housing in lesser neighborhoods. The list goes on and on and none of it is okay.
Take some time to research percentages for black people in the following areas:
-The rate of unemployment.
-Likelihood of being pulled over.
-Black women dying in childbirth.
-The wealth gap.
There are systems in place that make it harder for black people to graduate college, get a good job, and buy a home.
5. I don’t understand the rioting & looting at all? Why is there so much violence?
So, the actual facts are that there are TONS of peaceful protests taking place consistently that include zero violence.
However, there are ones that include looting, etc.
I do not and won’t ever condone violence, but it is very important for people to understand it.
For years, black people have tried peaceful protests and it has caused no change. A few years ago, Colin Kapernick started a movement of peaceful protest. It which was ONLY to make a stand against the racism in our country. Instead, it was torn apart and made about the flag and being unpatriotic.
Now there are more riots because black people are exhausted, hurt and trying to get the attention of those not affected. They’re trying to get people to stand up and do something about injustice in America. The whole point is to get attention on the cause. It is important to remain focused on the cause that they’re fighting for not the actions of a few people.
The only way change can happen is if those who benefit from racism, say NO it will not continue anymore.
6. What are some good books to learn about racism for both adults and kids?
I encourage you to google books on diversity, racism, systematic racism, and teaching your kids about it because, there are MANY out there, but here are some to get you started.
“Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria” -Beverly Tatum
“The New Jim Crow”- Michelle Alexander
“White Fragility” – Robin Diangalo
“So you want to talk about race” – Ijeoma Oluo
“Lies my teacher told me: Everything your american history textbook got wrong- James Loewen
“Hair Love”- Vashti Harrison
“The Youngest Marcher” by Vanessa Newton
“Resist” by Veronica Chambers
“All American Boys” – Jason Reynolds
“Were different, were the same”- Bobbi Kates
“Little Legends”- Vashti Harrison
7. How have you experienced racism in blogging? You seem to be very successful.
I have been successful in this business, but I have worked my behind off. After chatting with white creators, it seems I have to work twice as hard to be seen or chosen for jobs. Here are some ways I experience this as an influencer/blogger:
Brands typically run ads with our family on Facebook and other social media channels. It is great, but almost every time there will be MANY racists comments underneath our ad towards our family, my boys or my husband. Something that white influencers do not deal with at all.
Many influencers grow in various ways, but mostly from shouting each others accounts out, and doing giveaways where people have to follow everyone included to enter. Those in the business who have 200K+ followers all seem to share people who only look like them. There are no people of color. I have asked before to be included and was told by an individual that my account wasn’t like theirs and they try to share like accounts. However, I will never be blonde with blue eyes nor do I want to be so, inclusion is a MAJOR issue in this space.
There are major pay gaps. Most black influencers will not get paid anywhere near the same rates as their counterparts.
The whole space is very segregated and brands do not equally select us for campaigns. I’ve been on many trips that I was clearly the only one for every 10-20 white bloggers. Most campaigns have hashtags so you can see who else is working on it. I will find that with the 20 women hired, I am the only one of color. Job opportunities are less than for white influencers due to the amount of “spots” available for people of color (and that is if a brand is “diversifying” at all).
It’s been a challenge, but God has still helped me grow this business, even if a lot slower than my colleagues.
8. I’ve felt like people of color haven’t been positive towards me in various situations, and I’ve dealt with reverse racism but many people tell me that’s not a thing. Can you explain?
You have most likely experienced prejudice, but reverse racism is not a thing by definition.
Racism and Prejudice aren’t the same thing.
Racism is a system in which a racial majority is able to enforce its power and privilege over another race through political, economic and institutional means. The important difference is that racism is prejudice + power. The two work together to create the system of inequality.
There has never been a national set of laws or systems put in place to systematically oppress white people or push them to a status that is less than. So, that is why reverse racism isn’t possible, but prejudice is.
9. What can I do to help create change in our country?
– Change truly does start at home. Have the conversations with your kids and intentionally bring diversity into your life.
– Have those hard conversations with your friends and family members. Don’t be passive, but make a stand that racism is wrong.
– Social media is a powerful tool. Post news stories, meaningful memes, and educational articles. It has the ability to open up the eyes of others and makes a change.
– Educate yourself and those around you by reading books and watching documentaries on racism. It will open your eyes as well as come up in conversations with those around you.
– Sign petitions to stand against injustice. There are constant petitions around people who are experiencing racial injustice.
– Stop searching for a loophole to feel better about a horrific story and educate yourself on bias and double standards, then stand firmly for justice.
– There are tons of organizations you can donate to in your state and nationally to fight against injustice on every level in America. Those dollars matter.
10. What do you most want white people to know?
Your voice makes a difference.
When you decide to no longer be silent or passive or panic over having the right words to say, things will change. When those who are benefiting from racism, choose to speak out against it, transformation will happen. Sadly, it won’t by black people talking about it. That has happened for decades. It takes those who are not affected to say “NO MORE.”
You can’t let this be a fad. You have to keep fighting for inclusion in every area of your life. It can change, and you have the power to do it. You can let life continue on as it has for decades, or you can help break the chains of racism in this country.
Whether you want privilege or not, this country has constructed a system to give it to you. You can use that privilege to change things for my beautiful, smart, amazing black boys and a million others.