I was chatting with a friend a few days ago and she said “this is the wake up call I didn’t know I needed.” All I can say is, I agree. As a woman who prides herself on being a feminist, the last week has opened my eyes to how I’ve proudly touted that label in a way that was convenient for me, as a white woman. While my goal has, and always will be to create an inclusive space for all women, I’ve realized that I have a lot of work to do, and quite a lot to learn.
Black Lives Matter
First, I want to say unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. I have much to learn about my own unconscious biases and a responsibility to better understand not only how my privilege has shaped my life, but how I’ve played a role in upholding the racist systems built into every level of our society. In my personal life, I have a lot of work to do. In how I raise my daughter, in how I hold myself and the people around me accountable, and in how I show up for the Black community. I understand this is not something that will be fixed by reading a few books, donating some money, and watching a few documentaries.
So how do we move forward specifically on this blog and within this community? This is something I have thought about constantly for the last week. The introduction to my about page says: “a lifestyle, travel and wellness blog to encourage meaningful conversation, create confidence, and celebrate women.” If I’m being honest, I was not being inclusive. I could try to explain it away but there’s no excuse. Period. When I looked at our content, at the people who were showing up in my feed and in the links we share, it’s mostly women that look like me, brands that cater to women who look like me. I’ve learned a lot about the importance of looking at what a brand does, not just what they say (ahem Reformation-among others).
Moving forward I want to be clear that this blog is here to celebrate ALL women.
Caylin and I have discussed at length how we can do better to highlight more Black women and women of color in the content we create for this space. Our goal is to do this in a thoughtful and intentional way that is ongoing, fully acknowledging that we have had blind spots and we are working to change that.
Here is how we plan to move forward:
diversity in the brands we partner with and feature
As I mentioned in this post, I will be paying closer attention to my brand partners. Not only the influencers they partner with but their own internal talent and leadership. We will also be working to include and feature more Black-owned businesses and brands, particularly women-owned.
diversity in our featured experts
We often look to experts in their respective fields to provide insights and advice for content we create on this blog. We will be focused on ensuring we include more diverse experts, particularly Black women and women of color.
More diverse content in our weekly series Click. Read. Love.
This weekly series is some of our most popular content on the blog. Moving forward we’ll be paying attention to the links we include and making sure we are featuring content from a diverse group of women (this means authors, creators, influencers, photographers, writers, cooks, business owners, etc.). We also use Click. Read. Love to highlight issues we care about, and plan to use this as a tool moving forward to call attention to important social justice issues.
It’s no secret that networks and connections play a huge role in the opportunities we get. After 6 years in this industry and 4 years working in the corporate world I want to serve as a resource (thank you for the idea Grace). Caylin and I will each be offering 10 one hour phone calls in June and July for Black content creators (whether that’s photographer, blogger, small business owner etc.). We will serve as a resource to answer questions about social media, blogging, pitching to brands, PR, pitching yourself as an expert to media outlets, etc. We are also happy to provide connections to brands where we have them. If you are interested please send me an email jess(at)jessannkirby.com (we will have to do a lottery and randomly choose to be fair).
In addition, a personal friend who works in the Emerging Brand group at an Investment Bank has offered her time to get on calls with Black founders who have had trouble getting funding and/or are looking for advice or information. She spends most of her time in the following sectors: health & wellness – beauty, personal care, baby; home & auto – household product, cleaning, furnishing and traditional food & beverages. Please email me jess(at)jessannkirby.com if you’d like an introduction.
To all the white women reading this
We hope you’ll join us on this journey of education, self-reflection and showing up. This is a lifelong commitment, one we are ready to make. For us this has no expiration date, this is a new path forward. For the Black women, and women of color reading this, we hope you will feel included AND celebrated as a part of this community. We can’t change the past but we will change the future.
We always want to hear from you. If there’s a business or brand you want us to highlight, a creator, blogger, writer, author, educator you want us to know about or anything else you want to share please do so in the comments, send me an email or feel free to message me on Instagram. Thanks for being here. We appreciate you.