Social Me-dia

A personal perspective on how social media works for me.

I had a healthy debate about social media the other day. My conversation partner – someone who has a distaste for grinning selfies and show offs. Myself – a fan of the more meaningful side of Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and their bedfellows.

How do you use social media?

Mindless scrolling to switch off at the end of the day? A way to keep connected to friends and family? To keep up to date with the news? For tuition on how to care for your hair type? (that’s definitely me!)

It’s a part of life that’s not going anywhere, let’s face it, so here’s how I recommend you use it if you, like me, are on a journey of anti-racism.

These are the elements that make social media about so much more than selfies and show offs.

  • Diversity – it’s the easiest way to see all walks of life on a regular basis. A beautiful and varied community is at your finger tips.
  • Representation – it’s also a simple way to find people like you if you’re part of a minority group and don’t often find others like yourself in every day life. If you ever feel that you don’t belong, you can find a place on social media and follow people like you doing great things, overcoming challenges, and just being in the world.
  • Guidance – finding bookstagram was like winning the lottery for me! A great example of social media providing guidance and recommendations, in my case, books!
  • Keeping current – I rarely read traditional newspapers, I’m too aware of their biases. Do you? Or do you, like me, find out the basics of what’s happening in the world through social media, and go deeper into the stories that you choose to investigate further?
  • And keeping in touch – if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know how important my network is to me. Social media is a great way to stay connected, to show my support for them, and to feel their support too.

So how do you use social media as an anti-racist tool? Here are my top tips.

  • Follow a range of people – of all ethnicities, backgrounds, points of view (yes, that includes those you strongly disagree with!)
  • Learn others’ stories – understand their experiences and take yourself out of your circle.
  • Be active in your support – engage with those who are trying to make a difference. Answer their polls. Comment on their questions. Share their posts.
  • Exercise your critical thinking muscles – challenge what you see, explore alternative points of view, don’t just take it as read.
  • Keep talking – use what you learn to inform conversations. Provide evidence against prejudiced points of view, back up your arguments with the expertise you find online, strike up a conversation about something interesting you’ve read.

In many ways, social media is a way to build the five key anti-racist skills I explained in one of my previous posts, The Big Five. It helps to develop empathy and self awareness; critical thinking; communication skills; self-education and allyship.

Of course, my favourite, is that it gets people talking. But what’s new there?

Meghan, the Media and the Mania

I see #MeghanMarkle is still trending on Twitter, two weeks after her visit to Britain for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. What a frenzy it caused having a mixed-race woman step back onto British soil after choosing to leave us and our media behind.

I remember the emotional weight of learning Meghan’s story last year. You may remember I touched on it in my post Accepta-black, where I reflected on who is deemed acceptable in British society. It seems the fairer your skin, the closer to received pronunciation your accent, and the less fuss you cause, the closer to “ok” you get as a person who’s not white.

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What’s Your 2022 Word?

The start of ’22 has seen lots of self declarations of people’s “word of the year”. One of the most inspiring I’ve seen is in the beautiful book by Paula Sutton, Hill House Vintage. (I bought this book for my Mum for Xmas and read the whole thing myself on Boxing Day.) Her word is “Yes” – and it meant a lot me.

By making “Yes” her word, Paula has committed to following any opportunity that comes her way.

Not overthinking things. And not planning things too far ahead. Just going for it.

It got me thinking about what I want out of 2022. And I think my word is going to be “growth”. Here are the reasons why.

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Self Care Survival

This time of year often gets busy. It can get tricky too – emotions surface about the last year, overwhelm about to do lists and social events rears its ugly head, there might be disappointment about the things you thought you’d accomplish but didn’t…the list goes on.

It’s no wonder there are a lot of articles out there about self care. It’s Important. And it’s not something many of us are any good at.

I’ve been thinking about self care for people who work in Diversity and Inclusion. It’s a tough gig. And it’s crucial we look after ourselves if we’re going to keep treading this long, long path towards equality.

Each time a person of colour delivers, or takes part in, training about Diversity and Inclusion, it’s involuntary therapy. They find themselves having to face into the injustices of life, the trauma they’ve experienced, their families’ history, their children’s futures. Every time they read a news report about racism, they have to accept that we’re a million miles away from racial justice. They’re forced to reconcile with the fact that the work their putting their heart and soul into may only be making the tiniest of differences, if any. Each instance of gaslighting they witness, trolling they experience, or lack of interest is is like a slap in the face.

Yeah, it’s a tough gig. But we keep going.

So today’s post is a quick reminder of some of the fundamentals of self care – the ones I’ve valued the most along my personal journey towards antiracism.

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Covid Questions

Wow! I haven’t wrottien since 26th August. That’s the longest I’ve gone without talking to you guys since I started Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! just over a year ago.

Covid hit me quite hard at the start of September. While I was lucky, I didn’t have horendous symptoms, it did knock me for six, and it’s only in the last week or so that the fog has lifted and my energy levels have come back up to speed.

It’s weird, and scary, having covid. After spending 18 months reading about it, trying to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you have it. Your loved ones are at risk. You can’t leave the house for ten days. You’re fears have come true!

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Are more people doing it?

Are they? You know? Doing the thing? The thing I’ve been trying to encourage? Talk about race?

I realise now that when I set out on this blog of mine, I set an objective that I couldn’t measure. Rookie error!

I know I’ve talked a lot. And I’ve talked with lots of people too. I’ve chatted with friends, made new contacts and friends for life, shared some inspirational people’s voices. But what’s happening out there beyond my circle? Are more people talking about race? That’s the big question.

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One year on

Who doesn’t get nostalgic on a birthday?

One year on from publishing Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! I indulged in half an hour of nostalgia. I looked back through all of my posts, and thought about what I’ve learnt personally, what others have helped me understand, and what I’ve put out there into my circle of influence.

Today’s post is a summary of some of the most pertinent points that some of the wonderful people I’ve spoken with have shared with me.

To introduce this anniversary post, I’ll start with some quotations from my first posts….they remind me of why I’m here, chatting to you.

The whole world is on a journey right now. At least, the whole world has an opportunity to be.

Discussion is the most important thing we can commit to if we’re going to learn together as a society.

It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. But it is important.

More of us are making a difference .

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The I and the System

It’s been a big week (again) in the world of anti-racism here in the UK. After the England male football team’s last minute defeat in the Euro final, three Black players received a torrent of racist abuse.

In actual fact, these players receive racist abuse every day, but this week it’s been particularly high profile.

There’s been an outpouring of support with many, many individuals declaring their admiration for the three men. The events have fueled discussions in the media, in the Houses of Parliament and in the streets. It’s inspired a new Facebook profile icon for people to visibly demonstrate their support.

All this is positive, I guess. It proves to the non-believers that racism in the UK is genuinely a thing. It also shows how many people are not racist, and are willing to speak out against racism.

In all honesty though, people being called racially abusive names is abhorent, but it’s the least of our problems. It’s systemic racism that really needs to be addressed. It’s the fact that the framework of the UK contains unacceptable imbalances in the experiences of ethnic minorities versus those who are White.

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