Here were my social media numbers as of this past weekend:
Twitter: Was following 2 people, both white.
Instagram: Was following about 115 people, all but 9 white.
LinkedIn: Was following about 400 people, all but 46 white.
First, I sat with those numbers. What did they tell me about me? What did they tell me about the viewpoints I was exposed to each day?
Admitting that this wasn’t acceptable to me, I did hours of poking around (and it does take hours). Who could I follow to broaden my view of what I consumed each day on social media? I thought about things I’m into: faith and theology, swimming, law and public policy, cooking, basketball, and comedy.
Then I thought of voices I knew of and liked, but for whatever reason, didn’t follow. I added these voices. From there, I viewed the lists of newly followed people to see who they followed, and found others that interested me. At times, I was saddened about how few black voices I could think of in some areas, but kept at it.
My Twitter and Instagram follow lists are now half black voices and half non-black. My LinkedIn is going to take far more work since that is mostly about networks that I simply haven’t established. I was fairly horrified to find that my connections with black professionials on this platform were only in the high teens.
Are these newly adjusted numbers “right?” No, I’m sure not. There is no magic number here. This whole excertise may seem crass, even wrong, to be counting people by race (let’s be honest, on some of these platforms there didn’t need to be much counting at all). But if I want to broaden the diversity of the voices I interact with daily, the only way to do that is to take a (rather hard and convicting) look at the platforms I set up. I had to ask, what areas of my life (I’m looking at you, faith and theology) were almost completely devoid of any lived experience outside of my own?
Referring back to the Four L’s (listen, learn, lament, leverage), the work of diversity expert and unity champion LaTasha Morrison, here’s my plan. I’m going to use these three social media platforms to listen and learn. At the same time, for some time, I will walk through lament, in prayer and in dialogue with others. I’m kicking around ideas regarding leverage, but that will have to start later.
This isn’t rocket science and I didn’t think of it (and no one gets a trophy for doing something they should have done 10 years ago). But positive change is still positive change, and I’m grateful for this suggestion (I read it somewhere; I wish I could attribute it to the source).
There is no timetable here other than to start, to do, and to keep it going. A new person I follow reminded me on live Instagram today that the Montgomergy bus boycott took over a year. I have a feeling the Four L’s will take a lifetime.
Lucky for me, that’s exactly how much time I’ve got.