After hearing about George Floyd’s killing, I’ve been hurting. Feeling helpless. Unsure of exactly what to do. That is my least favorite feeling – feeling like I can’t do something the fix a problem. Or change the world. The toll that police brutality and systemic racism takes on Black people in America is heavy. There is anger, yes, but also sadness and confusion.
As a people, we are tired, so tired, of just hearing words of support. And I’m tired of being tired.
For me, that sense of exhaustion fueled a fire, a determination to get up and actually work to change our world. What happened next had an impact far beyond my wildest expectations. And it also serves as a powerful proof point about how effective social media can be when it’s used for something besides just sharing what you had for lunch or dinner.
Being the millennial I am, I posted an Instagram Story that asked my friends to Venmo me $1. Whatever I collected would be given to the Floyd family and the National Bail Out Fund. I would post the subsequent receipts as proof that the money went entirely there.
I hoped I would raise perhaps $500. But the idea took off like wildfire. Within 24 hours, we raised $10,000.
My little organic platform had traction. So I went harder on it, wondering how much I could raise. I ended up doing two separate rounds of fundraising and in a week, raised a total of $50,000. Besides the Floyd family, the money also went to groups fighting racial injustice and police brutality like National Bail Out and Until Freedom.
And the brand support my idea generated has been extraordinary. I work in production and sought internal corporate matches from my industry friends at Netflix, Spotify and others. Venmo was extremely helpful in helping me move money to where I needed it when I needed it.
And with that, my total of $50,000 raised is starting to become $150,000.
Since then, I have launched an online storytelling platform with the help of my genius mentor (and SeeHer Board Advisor) Jennifer Rudolph Walsh called Know My Story, where Black and Brown people can celebrate their experiences instead of just sharing their suffering. Our mission is to share real stories of strength, resilience, and melanin. To #knowmystory is to change the world together. I believe Donating is only one way to uplift my community but sharing stories and celebrating joy is another act of revolution in itself. And my fundraising idea? It’s becoming a movement of its own.
Know My Story and I launched a third round with the support of Until Freedom, to raise funds for Gathering for Justice, a non-profit which will support more long-term solutions to the problem of racial inequities that permeate the justice system. We launched on a Friday and by Monday morning had raised $10,000. I’m also working with influencers such as Tyler Cameron, who is generously using his platform to amplify the fundraiser and have hard but important conversations about race in America. His actions to amplify black voices is exactly what successful allyship looks like.
It’s incredible how much social media can do when it is used to really work for change. People want to be more active, to engage with change, and social media is the number one platform for understanding different perspectives, to get the real story, and to organize around purpose and a mission.
We are moving away from social networks as conduits for the trivial exchange of likes. Now we want to know what others care about, to share opinions and really turn words into action.
Now, one voice can make a difference.