I am honoring Black History Month by educating myself, whether that be attending virtual talks sponsored by my university or simply reading shared posts on social media. There is always more to learn and new people to discover and that’s is one of the reasons Black History Month is so important. There are so many Black individuals that have provided substantial contributions to our society, past or present, that deserve credit and recognition for their hard work.
Personally, as my platform continues to grow, I really like and plan on sharing posts that I see highlighting different figures, historical events, or facts on my Instagram story. I think it is a great way to relay information and/or spread awareness whether it’s about movements, general information, or sharing work that I find inspiring. Throughout my experience as a creator, I have noticed my stories get significantly more views than my posts. Even if the story only contains a snippet of information highlighting a Black inventor, scientist, artist, leader, president, activist, author, or creator, that 10 seconds the story appears on that screen sheds light on that individual for their talent, bravery, commitment, leadership, and/or impact on our society and I think that is the absolute least I can do to show my support for them.
Being a Black creator has been nothing short of a journey of self-discovery. Whether I am creating videos or taking photos, I am allowed the opportunity to be me, express me, show me. There exists, in this world, so many social norms and influences from the environment you grew up in; creating content has allowed me to outgrow those. A lot of the time, the photos I share of myself are self-portraits. No one behind the camera, just me, a tripod, and an idea. I have the liberty to pose, reshoot, try different angles, or experiment with setting all by myself. No one saying, “that’s kind of weird” or “I’m cold, are we almost done?” or “Are you really going to post that?” What people see is the final product, the product how I want it to look, how I want myself portrayed, and I think that holds a lot of power in my identity as a Black creator.
Yes, I am currently a part of the General’s Leadership Academy at my university. As a captain on the Track and Field team, I find this program extremely useful as the focus of the entire program is on what makes an individual a good leader and, individually, how we can improve upon that. A some of what we do within the program directly deals with how to create an environment on your respective team that is not only comfortable but inviting to all people, no matter their sexual orientation, race, religion, socio-economic status, etc. because we, as leaders on our sports team, recognize that creating this environment within our teams is the most important aspect of athletics. Without this, there is no success.
I would like people to know it is ok to ask questions. The thought of asking questions tends to scare people. I, myself, am oftentimes scared to ask questions, but I have been slowly getting myself comfortable with doing so. Asking questions is so important. If you want to know how to better support your friend, ask them how. If you’re not sure what pronouns to use when talking to someone, ask them what they prefer. That friend would most likely be more than happy to explain how you can help them. I will never forget, this summer, while different protests and BLM marches were being held, I had two friends reach out to me separately. They both wanted to know how they can 1) become more educated about the movement and 2) how they can help me specifically. Receiving those texts almost brought me to tears. It told me that those friends truly see the situation and want to know more in order to provide support. They care. I’ve said it once already, but I will say it again: asking questions is so important.
As dumb as it sounds, to me, the biggest opportunity for creating change is identifying that change needs to be made. Start conversations. Listen. Learn. There is so much positive change that can come about in this world all because of one simple conversation. You will find others who share similar experiences as you and realize you are not alone.