A Call for Awareness and Action | Influencers, Accountability, and Humanitarian Crises
Disclaimer: I want to start this blog post off with a disclaimer. I am not claiming to be an expert in terms of problems that humanity faces today. I also don't know these influnecers / content creators personally, so this is really just a compilation of an outside perpective looking in. I state this not to take value away from what I am truly saying, but to reassure you all that we are all human and should look at this with an open mind. My goal is to provide you perspective on this contraversial topic.
The Real Focus
With that being said, let's get into it. With the recent humantarian crisis that is occuring in Gaza and many other countries outside of the United States of America in the past few weeks, people have had opinions on who should be using their platforms and for what in order to either spread awareness or support different causes.
I for one, have been wanting to talk about Influencers and Palestine for a while now, mainly due to it's contraversey and the importance of accountability and responsibility. However, we must keep in mind what is really going on here. I feel like people can get so caught up in cancel culture and and holding influencers accountable that we forget why it's so important to hold them acccountable in the first place. The point of all of this is not to tear people down but to bring awareness to a humanitarian crisis where people are dying and losing family members, friends, and their homes. Anayka She does a great job of explaining this concept as well by empahsizing what is truly important. Our goal should not be to center influencers, but to center the Palestianians during a time of need. If we can also hold people accountable that's great, but our focus should be to help people in the best way we know how.
The 5 questions that come to mind:
Should influencers speak up about issues that we face today?
Should influencers stay silent?
Is the reason for mainstream influencer's silence the problem?
How can they even help the people in Gaza or anywhere else for that matter?
When is an appropiate time to start speaking on these important topics?
One content creator that came to mind when addressing current issues around the world is Monet Mcmichael a Youtuber and TikTok star, who is known for her GRWMs, lifestyle content, and makeup videos. I have been a huge fan of Monet for a while now because of how she keeps it real in her videos and keeps her audience engaged. However, there has been some negative backlash about her taking her time with uploading a TikTok video addressing what is happening in the world today. Monet is not the only influencer or celerbity personality that has faced backlash for the same reasons. Selena Gomez has also faced criticism about not talking enough about Palestine on her Instagram even though she is the 3rd most followed person on Instagram in the world and has spoke up about other important issues in the past.
I think what bothers people the most is that some audiences have given platforms to these celebrites and influencers, but they, for whatever reason, choose not to speak on matters that are relevant, important, and time sensitive to their audience. Especially, when they are still so quick to post sponsored content and daily first world problems, instead of amplifying the voices of people that need it the most right now.
Some influencers say they don't know what to say on the topic, or that they're not educated enough on the matter, or that it's too heavy of a topic, or that it won't fix anything, etc., but this does not sit well with most poeple and for good reason. Especially Gen Z, who can be quick with cancel culture and wants to take action.
I think what is important to understand in these situations is that ignorance is in fact bliss and spreading awareness can be just as, if not even more, important than staying silent. There are different types of silence as well. For example, staying silent because you have not taken the time to educate yourself is one thing, while staying silent in order to give more space for reporters and people on the ground in Gaza to share information is entirely different perspective.
My Take : Balancing Accountability and Understanding
To answer these questions, I believe that influencers should speak up about issues that we face today, especially when the topic is important to them and their audience. Influencers are people too and we need to be able to empathize with other people.
I don't believe silence is always an option, especially when so many people have already been killed. However, I do think silence holds space for other people who are highly educated on the matter to bring awareness.
It has also been brought up that when influencers don't make statements on problems around the world, it is in order to preserve brand partnerhsips. As a fashion content creator / influencer, we cannot get sidetracked by potential brand deals when real people need our help. The reason that poeple stay silent should not be due to fear or lack of education. We all have a role to play and ignoring that role can be detrimental.
That's the great thing about social media ... the networks that it has created! Influencers, just like anyone else on the internet, has the power to help others and undo the harm inflicted by others. We all have a choice.
I don't think it's ever too late to make a statment in order to bring awareness on your platform, no matter how big or small that platform may be. However, you have to consider the outside perspective. If you take too long to speak up, then this can be seen as performative or insincere. We are not here to check off boxes like a diversity statement in your college course syllabus. We are here to make a difference in whatever way you think is best.
Look At It Like This
When the Black Lives Matter Movement was at its peak, not speaking about innocent black people dying was considered to be just as outrageous and for a good reason. So it is imporant to show that same support to other groups of people that are suffering as well.
What I hope people are able to learn from this is that we are not free until we are all free and that choosing when to stand up for what is right is a luxury and a privilage.
Useful Resources to Help People in Gaza
boycott businesses like Starbucks that are in support of genocide without putting the blame on the consumer (you can make your holiday drinks at home and not shame others for buying food from these well established brands at the same time!)
use social media as a resource to stay educated and educate others too (I like to follow accounts on Instagram like so informed to keep myself up to date on what's happening and to repost the valuable resources in order to build awareness of different causes)
donate when and where you can to non profit organizations that are helping the cause (please, please, please, do research on who you donate to before donating)
another simple way to help is by using this TikTok filter where the earnings from creating the filter will be donated to help people in Gaza (you can click on the filter via the link to my video)
voting is also just SO important to make sure that the people who are making these important decisions have the best intentions at heart (vote early if you can & send emails or call your elected officials asking for a ceasefire)
I hope this helps to give you a new perspective on influencers and important issues around the world and inspires you to do what you can to help end the suffering of people in Gaza. Please share your take on this topic by commenting on this blog post and sharing your perspective.
Lots of love,