I’ve spent the last few days deep in thought. I’ve signed petitions, donated, educated myself. I’ve recognized my own privileges as a white passing middle class American living in Manhattan; I’ve had long, tough conversations with friends and family members about that privilege; I’ve used my voice louder than I ever have on social media, not only condemning racism against Black Americans but also navigating how to become an ally.
Something I’ve struggled with a lot is the idea that I can’t suddenly turn into a full-time activist overnight. I was so angry, I wanted to do everything I could at once to change the world. But with all that anger and confusion, I wasn’t getting anywhere productive. I had to take a step back and look at where and how I can enact real change.
Now, I’m turning my attention to how I can do better at home, within my own social circles, and within my industry.
It’s known that the travel blogging and influencer industries lack representation from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) creators—so I’m here to talk about how I plan to better support these creators through my own work.
As a full-time travel blogger and content creator, I feel a specific responsibility to use my platform to promote positive change within the influencer and travel industries. I’m incredibly passionate about my career, but like every industry, this one also has its flaws.
This is how I’m pushing to change it for the better. (For more resources on how to support the Black Lives Matter movement, please visit this page.)
Checking my feed
One of the first places I looked at was my feed.
I’m a well-traveled individual, someone who thrives on experiencing and learning from different cultures. In fact, often when people ask me what my favorite part of traveling the world was, my answer is “seeing how people live on the other side of the world.”
Yet when I looked at my Instagram feed, I saw that the majority of people I followed looked a lot like me.
I began asking myself why that was. Why do I only follow other white female travelers? How can I write about experiencing the world, when the very first platform I go to for inspiration is filled with voices strikingly similar to mine?
Welcoming the views of BIPOC creators is a crucial step to better understanding the travel and social media influencer industries—and becoming a better travel blogger myself.
What changes can I implement on my blog?
Next, I started thinking about how I can do better on this very site.
A lot of what I do as a travel blogger is create destination guides and tips for places I’ve traveled to, in hopes of inspiring you to plan your own trip there.
I’ve decided to audit the existing travel guides on my site: Am I recommending Black- and minority-owned restaurants, shops, tours or travel companies in these guides?
From here on out, I’m making a conscious effort to include these businesses in my guides—in turn, inspiring you to visit them yourselves.
But in order for me to recommend more Black and minority-owned businesses, I first need to visit them.
I’ll be actively seeking out these businesses when creating itineraries for my future trips.
Another way I can make space for BIPOC voices is to carefully look at who I’m allowing to guest post on my blog. Although this isn’t something I have done yet, I do see myself allowing collaborative and guest posts on my site eventually.
I’ll be sure to include a diverse range of voices in these future posts—which, quite frankly, is something I believe every travel site should be doing anyway!
How boring is it to hear from the same voices about the same kind of travel experience over and over again? Wouldn’t it be SO much more interesting to hear personal travel stories from different people of different backgrounds—and learning about how their unique experiences with travel differ from your own?
What can I do as an influencer?
On the influencer side of things, I’m going to start paying much more attention to the brands I’m partnering with.
Here are a few ways I’ll be responding to future brand collaborations:
First step, look at the brand’s feed. Is it diverse? Does it represent people from all races and backgrounds? Are there BIPOC creators featured on it?
Next step is to do a little research behind the brand: How has it responded to the Black Lives Matter movement? Where does the brand stand on specific social and world issues that matter to me? Who has (or hasn’t) the brand worked with in the past?
If the collaboration is part of a larger campaign with several influencers involved, I think it’s important to get an idea of who is participating. Is the influencer pool diverse, or will all the sponsored posts feature people who look exactly like me?
I can put this into action by asking the brand, “Would you mind sharing what other creators are being considered or hired for this campaign? I’m really excited about this opportunity, however, before jumping onboard, I’d like to ensure the project’s representation aligns with my personal branding/messaging.”
The same goes for events: Who is the brand or company inviting? Is there anyone I can recommend to make the attendee list more inclusive?
If brands see that influencers are continuously demanding fair representation before participating in campaigns, I believe they’ll begin paying attention, too.
These are the small steps I’m taking to make this blog, my Instagram and my business a more inclusive, uplifting space for everyone. Even if these seem like minimal steps, they help build the foundation for real change. I’d like to think that each of us have the ability and power to work toward that goal.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the above: Please leave a comment if you have any questions or additional ideas on how I can better the industry as a blogger and influencer.
Let’s continue exploring (and changing) the world together.
To learn about more ways you can support the movement and BIPOC creators, head over to: Anti-Racism Resources & What You Can Do To Help.