Gwyneth Paltrow, Kourtney Kardashian and Hillary Clinton are among a group of over 50 white women who handed their platforms to black influencers, activists, athletes and writers on Wednesday as part of the #ShareTheMicNow initiative aimed at amplifying the voices of black women.
The movement, announced on Tuesday, is a project co-created by Bozoma Saint John, Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Glennon Doyle and Stacey Bendet — all entrepreneurial women who work across different industries that rely heavily on digital spaces. Amid conversations surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice plaguing the country, they collectively decided to use those spaces to allow black women to tap into the power of the platforms that their white allies hold. In order to do so, each white woman involved in the project was paired with an influential black woman who would use the former’s Instagram account to share their own work, spread their message and educate followers who aren’t their own of their experiences as a black woman in America. Naturally, the conversations taking place are powerful and emotional.
“I know I’m talking to a whole bunch of white people that have never seen me before and are probably like, ‘Who is this black girl and what is she talking about?’” Julee Wilson, beauty director at Cosmopolitan, shared on Alice + Olivia founder Bendet’s page. “But that’s what this #ShareTheMicNow initiative was all about.”
Through sharing her work as a storyteller in the beauty and fashion industries, Wilson was able to convey both her triumphs and tribulations. While sharing the mic, she even said, “I do fantasize about what my life would be like if I wasn’t a black woman in the spaces that I’m in. I don’t know. Maybe my life wouldn’t be great.”
Other black women shared similar sentiments.
Stephanie Thomas, a disability fashion stylist and the founder of Cur8able, spoke to her unique struggles in the fashion space while taking over Selma Blair’s Instagram. “I’m a solopreneur,” Thomas said, referring to the lack of support and resources she had to build her company. “I’m not trying to convince you that I’m valuable. I just want equity. I want access.”
Nikki Ogunnaike, GQ deputy fashion director, spoke from Arianna Huffington’s page to talk about her evolution in media and how it might look different from that of a white woman. Her sister, fellow journalist Lola Ogunnaike, joined Nikki to provide additional experience to that perspective. “It has never been that easy,” Lola shared. “To have that trust in my talent, in my ability, and to have that support.”
Ashley Graham turned her account over to Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, who said her “passion for human rights and social justice was ignited at 12 years old, as a young Black girl growing up in Arizona — you know I saw some things!“ She said she’s “humbled to be alive to serve as a steward in this moment in history.”
Clinton shared her account with author, commentator, activist and SiriusXM radio host Zerlina Maxwell. Maxwell worked as field organizer for President Obama's campaign and then as director of progressive media on Clinton’s campaign, getting a law degree in between.
“At this moment in time it should be clear to everyone that our traditional leadership models are not working so well,” Maxwell wrote, “and the #blacklivesmatter movement has captivated the entire world in an effort to dismantle white supremacy and allow black people to finally be fully free.”
Paltrow gave her platform to another woman running a wellness brand, Latham Thomas. Thomas, who runs maternity brand Mama Glow, wrote, “Self-care is my ministry and I’ve used my platforms and influence to lead in a space that has been dominated by white leaders.”
Across the board, many of the women are sharing their experiences from the perspective of being a pioneer in their field, or being a woman pushing for change in a world that’s not as perceptive to the work of black women. With many of the pairings, such as Goop CEO Paltrow and maternal health and birth activist Thomas, fall within common fields, the communities they’re working for and the issues they’re fighting to bring attention to are different.
The collaborations resulting from #ShareTheMic are taking place all day and night on Wednesday with a multitude of conversations, feed posts and resources to be shared. Below are the names and accounts of the influential women participating.
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