“It’s not always about race,” my friend said. And my teachers, and my siblings, and, quite honestly, everyone else. It is so easy for so many to hear my concerns around this and deem it as a cop out, but as I continue to navigate scaling my business and having honest, empathetic conversations, I am finding that the two cannot co-exist, or at least rarely do for someone who is Black or a member of any marginalized community.
I won’t say that every instance boils down to race, because I have no way to prove this and know that it is untrue (to some extent, or at least in the context of this conversation). However, what I can say, is that conversations I aim to have that eloquently discuss any topic continuously resulted in the shadow-banning of my online accounts, whether that be Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok.
And I think once I mention these platforms, my argument is already dismissed. I am seen as just, “another young adult aiming to become an influencer.” To some extent, sure, but aren’t we all? We live in the age of media, and our businesses and efforts will fail without it. And as someone who aims to be a social justice advocate and uplift the voices and experiences of others, it is important to create a safe space where people can truly be heard.
It didn’t take long for my efforts to soon be halted and for my ability to advertise and promote to be taken away. Even after completing everything that was asked of me to appeal this, I remained silenced. I initially assumed that this was the result of me discussing “divisive” topics, also known as accurate history and modern circumstances.
For some reason, in my mind this was slightly more justifiable. I mean any person of color knows that we are often silenced to some degree or another when attempting to challenge systems of power. Still, I was determined, and continued to show up, however I could. As my business began to evolve, I decided it was time to start another page… and it was then, I realized it doesn’t seem to be about my words, but about my existence.
On this page, I began speaking more about mental health, in a way that promoted self-empowerment, the development of coping skills, and body neutrality in hopes of making support more accessible. Although it is my goal to make levels of support more accessible in marginalized communities, most of what I discuss is something many thin, white women do daily and are often praised for. It is safe to say that I have yet to have that reaction (not that I want it).
Instead, images of my face are often blurred because of “graphic content,” my posts are often flagged, or entirely removed, and it is nearly impossible to tell my story or share my experiences and education around disordered eating and body image. And maybe it’s not my race… but maybe it is. And maybe, if someone who is a straight-sized, light-skinned Black, Jewish woman who still holds a great deal of privilege is problematic for sharing similar stories that thin, middle class white women are praised for, then are we willingly standing by well millions of others are silenced? How much brilliance are we missing out on because the world has deemed another’s existence unworthy of attention?
I understand how this may sound dramatic, but why is it that extremists preaching hatred and volatile messages are afforded a larger platform than woman of color who just want to spread their knowledge, whether it be around cooking, investing, self-love, and more. Why do we not see the drama, or problem, in this? I know there is still an aim to erase an entire population or demographic of people. What I wonder now, is, is it successful? I still feel like I exist in a world where the only accurate self-reflection of success I see are the ones I actively seek out… and rarely find. And let’s just acknowledge that I am so much more likely to find this in comparison to those who are darker than me.
So, maybe it’s not about race, but maybe it is. Regardless of how it’s viewed, the void of diversity, honesty, empathy, and equity is weighing heavy on so many individuals. It is time we stop prioritizing familiarity and begin stepping beyond our comforts. If not, we will never evolve. And I fear that this is the goal.