The election of Donald Trump, a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobe, to the highest office in the land was about so much more than our country’s presidential choice. His contentious win revealed, for the world to see, the fault lines in America’s struggle to live up to the ideals on which it was founded—for all people, not just those who have traditionally held power. In the digital space, the election results, and the conversations being had about it, also made crystal clear for influencers of color and those in the LGBTQ, Muslim, and disabled communities just who our allies are and, more importantly, how we need to flex our collective muscle to affect change.
We have watched as organizations cashed in on our reach and influence to bring in revenue, all while remaining silent to our suffering. Their actions mirror America’s tradition of undervaluing the work and contribution of people in the margins—an undervaluing that is one of the hallmarks of systemic oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia and hate extended to anyone who does not fit into the tiny, exclusive box occupied by our country’s president-elect and the majority of his supporters. Indeed, the Social Media Marketing and Digital Influencer arenas are microcosms of our society’s larger problem.
Instead of disrupting the system to treat influencers of color with the same dignity and value of our white counterparts, these organizations have all-too-often embraced inequity and inequality, refusing to hold the digital community accountable for reckless communication, decisions and actions that negatively impact influencers in the margins. We, in turn, have felt the pressure to silence our voices in order to maintain the income we need to provide for our families. All-too-often, we have settled—for less pay, for inadequate representation, for slick talk by our digital counterparts—convincing ourselves to be grateful for even the most half-hearted attempts at inclusion.
In our own digital homes, we speak out against injustices toward our people and try our best to provide a safe space to our readers and followers. We fight with every written piece, with every social media post, with every Tweet, with every status update and video, to create a space of our own. We people of color have always done the work—often to the detriment of our families and ourselves.
We will no longer stand silent in the larger digital space. We stand united, willing to risk our livelihood if need be, to demand change. We demand the larger digital community join us in raising our voices on issues concerning the oppression of Black, Latinx, LGBTQ, disabled individuals, non-Christians and all other humans who are in the margins.
We stand together sober-minded. We stand together, settling no more. We stand together, demanding real, measurable changes. We stand together, asking that you pledge to join us in this work.
We demand that all conferences, summits, and organizations that cater to the digital community create safe spaces for those of us on the margins to be respected and heard. Those spaces should be supportive, inclusive, and reflective of those of us in the margins. Any conference, summit, etc., that does not support women in general and women of color specifically, will be publicly boycotted and deemed a part of the problem.
Supporting one another has always been a priority, but we are vowing today to spend our dollars in our communities first, in order to move the work forward and help each other reap the financial benefits we deserve. We expect our allies to pledge to support our work, as we do theirs.
Regardless of our niche or expertise, we vow to always speak of injustices when it rears its ugly head: racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism. We must name the beast before it can be slayed and, in order to do that, we will move out of our comfortable spaces knowing that we have each other’s backs.
We are our sister’s keeper. Supporting one another emotionally will be key as we move forward in this work of dismantling systemic racism and the wheels of oppression that have been turning for far too long.
Our work will not be done in silence. It will not be done in a silo. This work will be done out loud, in the digital spaces we have created, flowing freely from our online homes into the physical spaces we occupy.
We will do it together.
I will stand with influencers of color as they work to dismantle systemic racism and oppression through their mediums.
If I’m an influencer, I pledge to consider how the use of my platform by 3rd parties will impact my community first. I pledge to stand in solidarity with fellow influencers of color by reaffirming their voice. I pledge to participate in conferences that do their due diligence to present diverse speakers and sessions.
Kelly Wickham Hurst
Sili M. Recio