Hi everyone! I mentioned on my stories that I planned to hold off on my regular posts for the week (perhaps even longer), and use this time to amplify the #BlackLivesMatter movement, continue to educate myself and my audience on systemic racism & why it’s an issue that NEEDS to be addressed, and give the platform for our Black community to shine.
As much as I love that everyone is staying muted in solidarity, I asked myself how I can dig deeper and how we can continue to change what we are doing for our Black community. So instead of me sharing my own thoughts, I’ve decided to interview a few black creators, influencers and friends to tell us their story, and hopefully learn from their experience!
Alley Washington (aka @aesthetical_alley on IG) is a health and wellness blogger from Atlanta, Georgia. We got connected through Christina Galbato‘s Influencer Bootcamp Facebook group about a month ago for a secret project I’m working on, and immediately hit it off! She is a wife and mother to her handsome 8 month-old-son. By day, she is a teacher, working her way towards becoming a college professor.
It was definitely an honor working with her on this piece and learning even just a small portion about her story. I honestly started crying when I was reading her responses because what we probably can’t picture happening for us, is a REALITY for our Black community.
My Instagram and my blog are for women to become inspired to try things on their own as it pertains to health, wellness, natural beauty and an overall comfortable lifestyle, not based around the amount of money they have. I always want us to see that there are always healthier alternatives that not only help our bodies, but our psyches as well; being that treating yourself can be very therapeutic and nurturing to the soul.
To be honest, I started this journey when I saw so many other influencers, predominantly white women, showing their Starbucks drinks in one hand and a Louis Vuitton bag in the other, painting this superficial lifestyle that made it seem as though “if you do this, you can also have this”. And to me, that wasn’t everyone’s reality.
Being a Black woman, to me, means PRIDE and STRENGTH. It also means CALMNESS and WHOLENESS.
We embody so much beauty and love, and not just for our children and our men, but for each other. When Black women come together in solidarity, we’re like diamonds that cannot be cut nor broken.
Assata Shakur inspires me. Assata was convicted of a murder that she did not commit. While serving a life sentence, she followed a plan of escape while ultimately led to her freedom in Cuba. I read her book a few years ago by choice and a quote that she says in her book that is relevant to the world now is:
“The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives”.
I believe that anyone who reads her book will be inspired by her.
I can honestly say I’ve never been ashamed or embarrassed of being Black. Even though I’m sure there are some who are, looking at the news and seeing the looting, but not me. Even with all that we go through, it’s a blessing to be Black.
My son is 8 months, so I try not to think too far ahead of what I may fear for him when he becomes of age. So for right now, I’ll say that my fear for him is losing his father and me losing my husband. I’m typing these words now with tear-filled eyes because 3 days out of the week, my husband works overnight in a county that is known to be racist in Georgia. Those 3 nights, I don’t sleep and I hardly breathe and I have panic attacks from time to time. I keep my inhaler by me and don’t close my eyes until I hear that front door click. And that’s when I can breathe again. I am fearful of raising my son without his father. Our boys need our men. But my son will know who is; I’m already speaking those words of love and encouragement to him all day, every day.
One thing I wish to change about the influencer/social media industry is the superficiality. [For example,] when people are being murdered, when kids are being killed, when a small child is photographed with law enforcement aiming a gun at their little body; when all of this is happening and even when it’s not being broadcasted, no one cares about what someone else has. It’s all material. Let us educate people; if we have a small following or large, let’s educate people on who they are, who they would like to be and how they can better themselves.
I want non-black people to understand that while we all have blood running through our bodies, the reasons for which we bleed are not the same. One way [that allies can help] is to show the spotlight every so often on a Black person who is inspiring; take the time to see what they’re about, and let other people know about them, so when you speak on their behalf, it doesn’t seem artificial. Don’t always say our names once our lives have been taken.
Thank you so much Alley for taking part in this series. Moving forward, I hope to do this more often on my platform, not just because it’s relevant right now, but because it is necessary to give them the mic and the voice. It is the right thing to do.
For a list of ways to support #BlackLivesMatter, check out this page.
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