#BLM cookies

Dear friends,

In case you missed it, I spent the past week in my Instagram Stories highlighting nonprofits and social justice organizations committed to fighting racial and systemic inequality to uplift the Black Lives Matter movement. I featured four nonprofits, each committed to a different cause, and matched your donations for 24 hours for up to $100. I want to thank the folks who financially supported the different organizations, as well as all the folks who watched all the stories and learned something new. You guys are amazing, really and truly!

Here’s a quick summary of each organization, as well as how much we raised for each:

Campaign Zero$3,094.00

What They Do

Campaign Zero is nonprofit organization dedicated to reforming police with data-driven campaigns and policies aimed at reducing police violence. Since its launch in 2015, Campaign Zero has proposed 10 major policy solutions for police reform focusing on community oversight and representation, limiting the use of police force, investing in police bias testing, demilitarizing police, and more. You can learn more on the solutions page of their website. Most recently, Campaign Zero launched #8Can’tWait. This agenda highlights eight specific policies to curtail police violence, and tracks how they are implemented in major cities. Learn more in this Vox article.

“By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of violence in the United States.”

Campaign Zero
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✊🏿✊🏾Hey fam, many of you have been asking what more you can do and we’ve heard you. Today we launch a new campaign: #8CANTWAIT. Together these 8 use of force policies can reduce police violence by 72%. And your Mayor has the power to adopt them all right now. We need YOU to call and email your mayors, wherever you are, and tell them to adopt these 8 life-saving policies RIGHT NOW! We cannot standby any longer while the police kill people. Visit 8CANTWAIT.ORG and use our tools to find your Mayor’s contact info, and see if your city already has any of these policies in place. Help us spread the word and tag 10 people you want to see this policy! Together we CAN END police violence in America.✊🏿✊🏾

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Why You Should Support Them

In their words:

  • “More than one thousand people are killed by police every year in America.”

  • “Nearly 60% of the victims did not have a gun or were involved in activities that should not require police intervention.”

  • “We must end police killings so we can live and feel safe in this country.”

Not Convinced? Read These Articles.

The Loveland Foundation$1,361.58

What They Do

The Loveland Foundation was started by influencer Rachel Cargle to create a fund to provide free therapy sessions to black women and girls. In 2020, the foundation aimed to provide 1000 women with at least 4 to 8 therapy sessions—or, over 5000 hours of mental health care.

“Black women and girls deserve access to healing, and that healing will impact generations.”

– The Loveland Foundation

Why You Should Support Them

In their words:

  • “With therapy sessions in the United States costing anywhere from $60 to $250 (even with insurance), it is often difficult for black women and girls to access therapy when they need it.”

  • There are also other barriers of entry for black women seeking mental healthcare. There is a “prevalent and ingrained stigma surrounding mental health in many communities” and the stark reality that “the vast majority of therapists in this country are white.”

Not Convinced? Read These Articles.

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Our food system is built on stolen land and the exploitation of Black and Brown labor. Only about 1% of our nation’s farms are owned by Black Farmers. Black Farmers have lost over 12 million acres of farming land to USDA discrimination. POC are disproportionately likely to live in food deserts and are also disproportionately likely to suffer and die from diet related illnesses. There are organizations out there working and fighting to change this! In Portland, @mudbonegrown is one of only about 40 Black-Owned farms in the state, compared to the 37,000 farms owned by white farmers. They partner with the Black Food Sovereignty Coalition among many other food distribution nonprofits, as well as providing internship programs for farming-interested youth. They run off donations. . . . . Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network @saafon_grows is a nonprofit based in Atlanta, GA with farm members all over the Southeast. They are doing great work to help Black Farmers create land trusts, educate and inspire the next generation of Black Farmers, and create a more progressive food system. They run off donations. #saafon #blackfarmers #blackfarmersmatter #foodequity #foodjustice

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Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON)$780.00

What They Do

SAAFON provides resources for black farmers and black family-owned farms to develop organic and ecologically sustainable farming practices. By providing educational resources, SAAFON ensures the economic viability and prosperity of black farmers by helping acquire, preserve, and manage black-owned agricultural land.

“[Our mission] is to create an alternative food system that places the well-being of black farmers and black communities at its center.”


Why You Should Support Them

In their words:

  • “We are a network of black farmers in the Southeastern United States who are committed to culturally relevant, ancestrally guided, and ecologically sustainable agricultural-based living.”

  • “Many of our farms have been in the same black family for over 100 years.”

  • “(SAAFON farms) are committed to using ecologically sustainable practices to manage land and (its natural systems) in order to grow food and raise livestock that is healthy for the people and planet.”

Not Convinced? Read These Articles.

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𝐕𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐚, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐝. Woke Vote drives power to the polls by building sustained civic engagement through empowering new community leaders. Our work, therefore, doesn’t stop after elections end. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Of the many injustices, gun violence, mass incarceration, voting rights disparities, immigration among many more, cultivating an active voting community among the historically disengaged is critical to the creed of our fragile democracy. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ If you have a passion to serve your community, are tired of other people coming into your community and want to organize your college, family or block with your own folks, 𝐠𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐞.𝐮𝐬/𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎 𝗪𝐨𝐤𝐞 𝐕𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐎𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐅𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰. We can’t change everything in one day, but everyday we can make change. #linkinbio

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Woke Vote$670.00

What They Do

Woke Vote mobilizes historically disengaged voters of color through social media outreach, impactful campus and faith-based outreach, social impact demonstrations, and more. You can read more about how Woke Vote successfully mobilized large African American voters to vote in Alabama’s 2017 special election, resulting in Democratic senator Doug Jones’ successful election.

Why You Should Support Them

In their words:

  • “Less than 2% of campaign revenues raised are investments in communities of color. This underinvestment has led to perpetually depressed turnout amongst voters of color.”

  • “(Low voter turnout leaves) vulnerable communities weaker and powerless on political decision making issues that shape living conditions.”

  • “Since our inception we have drastically increased the percentage rate of turnout (in some of our targets by more than 45% and in all of our targeted communities by at least 5%).”

Not Convinced? Read These Articles.

Additionally, voters of color typically face higher barriers of entry to vote, thanks to voter suppression tactics like gerrymandering, restrictive ID requirements, providing limited access to polls in impoverish areas, and more:

#blm cookies

And now, some reflections from the past week:

Speaking honestly, it was hard to navigate the last few days as a content creator (and also a general human, too, but today I’m speaking specifically about things from my point of view as a content creator because I feel like it’s what’s relevant to y’all).

As I silently tried to process the horror of what happened in Minneapolis, many immediately sprang into action and began posting images to honor George Floyd. The next few days, I saw my feed become flooded with the same two @ohhappydani and @stuffgracemade illustrations.

Then, many announced they were muting their accounts to cede their space to black activists, content creators, and influencers as part of #amplifymelanatedvoices. However, less than 24 hours later, those very same folks posted black squares for #TheShowMustBePaused movements. Late Monday night, after reading my talent agency’s announcement to participate in the blackout, I rushed to post my donor matching campaign for Campaign Zero before Tuesday midnight.

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The social justice movement on social media is just another movement that has become white washed and appropriated. It is another outlet that centers white narratives while making white people feel like the “good white person” or “ the woke white person”. A lot of their content and offerings have been co-opted and appropriated from the lived experiences of people in black and brown bodies, which they have used to make a profit and increase their social capital. Often the original black and brown creators are not given credit, and are pushed further into the margins of social justice work as white people continue to center themselves. • Look at your favorite white social media content creators, they most likely have thousands/millions of followers and endorsements. Meanwhile pages of black and brown people are being policed, reported, and targeted by trolls while their work is stolen and repackaged by these top names on social media. It is past time to re-center the voices and narratives of black and brown folx. It is time that black and brown folx are paid for our emotional labor and given due credit for our content. It’s time to pass the mic to people that actually need to be amplified, versus more privileged voices advancing themselves while oppressing others. We challenge you to participate in the “Amplifying Melanated Voices Challenge” this week, and silence the white narrative. #blackvoicesmatter #reclaimingourtime #centerourvoice #blacklivesmatter #blackvoicesmatter #blackhealingmatters #blacktherapist #nothingaboutuswithoutus #mutewhitenoise #antidiet #eatingdisordertherapist #centeringourvoices #qtpoctothefront #bodytrust #allfoodsaregoodfoods

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I woke up to a fury of messages asking why I had posted my fundraising stories, demanding to know why I wasn’t supporting the #BlackOutTuesday movement with a black square on my feed. In a panic, I foolishly caved to the pressure and posted without a second thought. Doing so, I was greeted by another wave of fury, with many lecturing me about their problematic and performative nature. Ultimately, I agreed (but not until after I had stepped back and done my own research on what Black Lives Matter leaders were saying and advising), and archived the post from my feed. 

Along the way, I noticed many other content creators experiencing the same fury and outrage on their various posts. The Instagram cycle was fierce and furious for all of us. A friend of mine likened everything to the school riot in Mean Girls, where everybody was just yelling at each other.  Like so many others, I learned a LOT this week:

It is important for people to see their favorite creators, brands, and companies take a stance and use their platforms to promote good.

I figured that, hey—if you needed a recommendation for a good cake recipe or a trustworthy brand of all-purpose flour, I was your gal. But for social justice issues like systemic racism, police reform, and more? I had my own personal feelings and thoughts about the issue, absolutely. But I was 100% sure that none of you wanted to hear them. This baking blog and Instagram account wasn’t the place, right?

How wrong I was.

Speaking plainly, I was genuinely surprised by how many people reached out to content creators like myself to post a stance on the events of the past week. Furthermore, this call to action wasn’t limited to content creators and influencers. Many people were demanding that their favorite brands and beauty, clothing, and lifestyle companies take a stance, especially those that had profited immensely from black culture and trends.

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dear @fashionnova, as a brand I signed a long term contract with, advertise and co-sign online, why are you silent during this tragic time in our country? where is your voice for us when when you benefit largely off black influencers? black fashion? black trends? black models? black bodies working in your establishments? where is your outrage over your millions of customers, men and women alike? where is your relief for families destroyed by police brutality and unchecked injustices? your team reached out to me to make sure I “got my posts up this week” or my contract would be voided. I’m very happy to post about this as a ‘fashionnovapartner’ – let us know, we’re waiting. thank you.

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Ultimately, I think this call to action for anybody with a platform to show their support is pretty amazing. What happened to George Floyd was wrong, plain and simple. How black men and women have been treated in this country needs to change RIGHT NOW, plain and simple. And the more people publicly and loudly say these things over and over, the more likely change will happen. Already, Derek Chauvin’s murder charge was upgraded. This is a BIG victory, given how rare it is for cops in the United States to be prosecuted of anything in the first place. In fact, all four officers involved are now facing charges. Minneapolis agreed to ban the use of chokeholds and neck restraints by the police, along with many other cities. The commissioner of my hometown is currently talking about defunding our local police.

Because like it or not, Instagram (and other social media networks) is one of the main ways we talk to each other now.

You may have read everything above and thought that it wasn’t relevant to you. “But I’m not a content creator, influencer, brand, or company.” Honestly, it doesn’t matter. I think about this interview between Cory Booker and Alyssa Milano a lot. In the interview, Alyssa states that “Everybody has a platform… It doesn’t matter if it’s the dinner table, or if you’re a senator, or an actress. We all have platforms and we have to use them to create positive change.”

This post by @ghostdumps also resonated with me. I especially like her point about how, even if you’re struggling to put your feelings into words, the absolute least you can do is repost the messages to help, donate, protest, and converse:

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Hello. A lot is going on, and I felt the need to say something. Again I wish to reiterate, people aren’t obligated to post on their social media what they’re doing to help the cause – but i know a lot of people who hide behind their excuses because they are uncomfortable. You’re not a bad person for not sharing these things but now more than ever, if you are in a place of privilege, please reconsider using your voice and platform, however small it may be, to help. Spread donation and petition links. Educate. Have these uncomfortable conversations with the people around you. Teach yourself to erase the racism that is built deep inside of you, inside of everyone. Do not be ashamed. Black people are dying. And their lives matter. #BLM #justiceforgeorgefloyd I have tagged some great people on Instagram that have done a really good job at educating and showing us what’s going on. There’s no excuse! (EDIT: link in my bio with a full list of resources to educate yourself on how to be a white or non-black ally, and how to actively be non racist, among other helpful readings) // Title page illustrated by the lovely Emmy Hamilton of @cowpetter and @m0mzines.

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Personally, in the last few years, I vacillated between using Instagram as fun app to pass the time with, as well as a business tool to increase awareness about my work and earn income. Although both are still appropriate use cases, they are also positions of extreme privilege. It was only in the last few days that I really, truly understood Instagram’s power as an information sharing, educational, and activism tool. The best part? It’s available for literally all of us to use for free and for those purposes.

That being said, at the end of the day, actions are even MORE important. We need to hold ourselves—and each other!—accountable.

Although it was encouraging to see so many people, brands, creators, and companies show their support, we also ended up with a lot of hollow statements. It seemed as if many companies—some of whom had actively handicapped the Black Lives Matter movement in the past, like the NFL—were just going through the motions of support. So much so that their statements actually became a meme!

I myself was disappointed to see a kitchen tool company I’d worked with in the past year to announce that they were “founded on the principle of inclusivity.” I’m sorry, but what does that actually mean? You guys make kitchen spatulas! Don’t kid yourselves.

But according to this Atlantic article (which is the best article I’ve found on this subject and you should absolutely read), it is financially beneficial for brands to “be responsible to their customers and sensitive to the conditions of life in America.” However—and this next part is important—“What that means in practice, though, is less clear. Instead of taking concrete actions, many companies interpret consumers’ push for social responsibility as a strong desire for them to make vague statements about even vaguer values, such as “equality” and “community,” when something racist dominates the news.”

There are several phrases that describe this kind of “activism”: “Ally Theater” (as popularized by Black Girl Dangerous), “Optical Allyship” (credit to @mireillecharper), and more formally, “performative activism” and “virtue signaling.”

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Social media has been a bit overwhelming since I first put up this post so it has taken some time for me to post this. On Friday, I shared this content on Twitter after I felt the conversations online were like screaming into an echo chamber. I wanted to provide those who wanted to support and be an ally with practical tips to move forward and make a change in our society. I am still somewhat surprised and overwhelmed by the reception so please take patience with me at this time. — For a note on who I am to those who have followed me from Twitter, my name is Mireille. I’m an assistant editor and I do freelance writing, PR and sensitivity reading and other bits on the side. I am extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion, and everything I have shared is not new knowledge to me. From as far back as I can remember I’ve been campaigning, fighting for equality and supporting and working with black owned organisations. I have worked in the diversity and inclusion space for around four years and I have been equipped with knowledge, skills etc through that work as well as through wider, intensive reading and being raised by a Jamaican mother who has a degree in Women’s Studies. I felt as a mixed race person who was emotionally capable despite the current situation that I could use my learned experience, skills and compassion to offer this advice to allies and anyone else who was seeking advice but didn’t know where to turn. This is now on my stories as a highlight so please feel free to share from there or here. — A small reminder that this took emotional labour and POC, especially black people are not here to teach you everything. When I said ask how you can support, I meant on a personal level as a friend etc. I hope this toolkit provides you with the starter info you need but there are genuinely people more experienced than me who warrant your listening to – please go and follow @nowhitesaviors, @laylafsaad, @rachel.cargle, @ckyourprivilege, @iamrachelricketts, @thegreatunlearn, @renieddolodge, @ibramxk + a few more: @akalamusic, @katycatalyst + @roiannenedd who all have books or resources from many more years of experience. _

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Luckily, there were many folks actively calling out the most egregious of brands. People used social media to demand that brands “open your purse”, and provide receipts for their donations to social justice organizations. In the beauty industry, @heysharonc of @uomabeauty demanded that any beauty brand who had participated in #BlackOutTuesday “pull up or shut up”. Specifically, she challenged them to publicly release the number of black leaders in their executive and management roles:

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Dear Brands – Thank you for the public statements of support for the black community. Whereas we understand and appreciate the support, be conscious that to piggy back off a trending hashtag when you have been and continue to be a part of the problem is once again appropriating and exploiting the black community. So we ask all brands who have released a statement of support, to publicly release within the next 72hrs the number of black employees they have in their organisations at corporate level. We also need to know the number of black people you have in leadership roles. You all have statements and policies about being equal opportunity employers, so show us the proof! PULL UP or SHUT UP! #pulluporshutup @pullupforchange

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Personally, I thought that it was inspiring to see a lot of people hold brands accountable. I found it really encouraging that many were thinking critically about these brand statements, and refusing to just accept them at face value. Because right now is definitely NOT the time for hollow words—especially from brands and companies with the resources to financially support causes, increase inclusivity and representation amongst their ranks, incite and inspire change, and so on.

However, it is really, really easy to judge and make quick assumptions on Instagram and other social media networks.

A big part of why I hesitated to post something about George Floyd’s murder when it first happened was because I worried my post wasn’t enough. I was outraged, of course. But what was another cutesy illustration of an inspirational quote going to really do? Who were they actually for? I mentioned that right now was NOT the time for hollow words; I genuinely wanted to do something more than share the same illustrations I’d seen over and over. And frankly, I was scared of being a performative ally. I had watched, in horror, as other influencers used a looted store as a backdrop, while another borrowed a drill to pose for a shot showing her “helping” board up a storefront, only to jump into her luxury SUV only moments later:

So I spent the next few days offline brainstorming ideas, researching social justice organizations, and organizing the online donor matching campaigns I mentioned above for Campaign Zero, Loveland, SAAFON, and Woke Vote. But it was crazy to see how many people immediately assumed that my silence on Instagram meant indifference. Later, that same criticism was lobbed at me during #BlackOutTuesday—first for NOT posting a black square, and then later, for posting one.

And speaking of those black squares, I had many productive 1-1 conversations with you all about them. I ultimately ended up taking down my square because it was what several Black Lives Matter leaders recommended. It also contributed to drowning out the #blacklivesmatter hashtag (which many protestors and on-the-ground activists were using to get real-time information about the protests). I also learned that the black squares had morphed into something completely different than what its original creators had intended.

As a result, the squares caused a lot of outrage. I saw a lot of people describing them as the ultimate act of performative activism and empty virtue signaling. Many worried that they were dampening the momentum of the moment. What we needed now was noise to propel change forward, NOT silence.

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It felt off when I woke up to see so many black squares. After reading more, I saw that it’s this whole social media movement that misses the whole point of the power & purpose of social media especially during this crisis. No, we don’t need to be silent for a day. No, we certainly don’t need to flood the Black lives Matter hashtags w/ black squares, which are then erasing & making it harder for us to find important news & info about this revolution. But just like I wrote yesterday about white tears centering whiteness & being performative, this too is another antic that is performative. What exactly is it going to do for Black lives to post a black square on social media? Nothing helpful for Black lives. But it will surely send off some virtue signaling for the white folks who are doing this. Instead amplify the voices of Black womxn…now is not the time, more than ever, to be silent. Reading @feministajones book about the power of social media & how it aids in the civil rights movement of our time has really helped me better understand the effectiveness of social media in our fight for justice. If it weren’t for social media, most of us wouldn’t even know George Floyd’s name. And it’s powerful hashtags like #sayhername by @kimberlecrenshaw that bring crucial awareness to the Black womxn who have been murdered by the hands of white supremacy, but often we rarely hear about it. Social media is a powerful tool of activism when it’s done well, but when not it can cause more harm than good. The black squares w/ hashtag Black Lives Matter are erasing the necessary & vital messages of this movement. This is not helpful. This does not help us stand in solidarity w/ Black lives, this is interfering w/ the fight & leaving Black lives in continued danger. If you must participate in the black squares then do so without the Black Lives Matter Hashtag. But instead, consider asking yourself this question, particularly if u hold white privilege.. What can I do TODAY to stand in solidarity w/ Black lives in a tangible way? (Hint: make calls, send money, send resources, protest (with a mask and without instigating), etc. Silence is violence even when it’s trendy

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While I agreed with a lot of the criticisms (it was ultimately why I took my square down, after all), I thought that—and this is likely going to be an unpopular opinion, but bear with me—the black squares weren’t completely valueless. One of the reasons why the protests have been so successful is because of the large numbers of people showing up. The numbers are signaling to politicians and law makers that a LOT of people are outraged and support change. The black squares on social media had the same power. Because what about the “all lives matter” people for whom the statement “Black Lives Matter” is “controversial” and “problematic”? I think it must have been truly eye-opening for these folks to see so many friends, acquaintances, as well as their favorite celebrities, musicians, influencers, and more show their solidarity for the movement with a black square.

I’d like to think that all those black squares led to some good conversations and inward thinking. I mean, even on my silly baking account, the black square inspired many productive dialogues about allyship and racism that wouldn’t have happened had I not posted a square at all. I also saw a lot of influential and thoughtful allies (like Cardi B!) keep the black squares in their feed. And what does it mean if a person who is already doing the work—by protesting, sharing important resources, fundraising, and whatever else—posts one, too? I still don’t know, but I definitely had a lot of thoughtful exchanges with many of you about it.

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In the end, I agreed most with this Vulture roundtable, in which one of their writers explained that the black squares “were effective as a collective public display of pointing the finger at a problem.” I also saw another comment that stuck with me: “Maybe it didn’t live up to the hyper-purist ideological standards of some. What I saw was an acknowledgment from people, most of whom had nothing to gain by posting, that they have been affected by George Floyd and thousands of other incidents and that they feel solidarity with the cause. That is a victory.” A good friend of mine told me that she thought the black squares were “messy and imperfect”, but “a sign that more people were finding ways to say and understand that black lives matter.”

All of which led me to realize that social media, despite its power, is still a really, really one-dimensional lens into the world. At the end of the day, social media strips most its content of its context. You rarely see the thought, work, motivations, or actions that went into the post. It is far too easy to judge and make quick assumptions about what you see AND what you don’t see. This post by @steven was a great reminder and summary of that:

So please—be kind! True allyship is an ongoing process that requires a lot of calibrating and course-correcting as you learn and process new information. We are all trying our best, and we are all working towards the same goal. But yes, there’s still a lot of hard work left to do. Thank you for being here to learn and grow alongside of me.

More Resources

Finally, here’s a round-up all the articles I learned from this week. Many are already linked throughout the blog post, but there are a few articles (marked with an *) that I wasn’t able to incorporate in a natural way. While I recommend reading all of them, there’s a lot! I recommend prioritizing the ones in bold font.

General Resources

On #BlackOutTuesday

On Brands and Social Justice

On Performative Activism, Virtue Signaling, and More