While coping with the weight of a global pandemic and the nationwide movement for racial justice, these three local influencers have found new ways to connect with their audiences, using their Instagram platforms to nurture, educate, uplift — and, most important for each of them, amplify the voices of fellow women of color.
Adria Moses (@adriamoses)
As the number of Michigan’s COVID-19 cases soared, yoga and mindfulness practitioner Adria Moses knew many people would need yoga to help them cope. Moses transitioned to Instagram Live, holding her first online class on March 17, and offered donation-based classes through June. Her well-received sessions included, among others, nighttime yoga to release neck and shoulder tension, meditations for grief and anxiety, and prenatal yoga. She’s now working on a new wellness space that she plans to launch on the membership platform Patreon.
In late May, Moses also resigned from her ambassadorship with Lululemon, disappointed by the company’s lack of response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. “If you’re a wellness brand — or you’re a brand that promotes social impact and social change — and your base is predominately white, and you’re trying to escape under the radar, those are the ones that I have a problem with,” Moses says.
In early June, she started a weekly newsletter, Radical Healing, which explores navigating through generational and racial trauma. And she says she eventually hopes to start an advocacy network for Black and brown women to help with navigating the health care system. “I’m hoping to continue to create content that creates impact, that creates action,” Moses says. “Because that is really the only point to me.”
Amber Lewis (@socialnthecity)
The City of Detroit’s digital and social media manager, Amber Lewis, uplifts her native city’s movers and shakers. From serving as a Detroit ambassador for the social networking app Bumble to curating music and DJing events as “The Playlist Princess” to connecting fellow Black women on social media through her networking community, Black Women Do Social, she seems to be doing it all.
In late March, when Lewis noticed many local creatives were losing financial opportunities because of the virus, she immediately created Issa IG Tour, a nightly Instagram Live event showcasing local DJs, event hosts, and musicians. The event plugged the Cash App accounts of those featured to help them collect donations. Lewis also did a four-hour wellness edition. Virtual attendees enjoyed music, meditation, yoga, and a DIY face mask tutorial with Lewis and other local talents.
“My audience is primarily Black women, and I’m always going to show up for Black women, because Black women always show up for me,” Lewis, 28, says. “Even if I’m feeling inspired, I can look to somebody that I follow for inspiration to just keep going, and also [to remember] it’s OK to stop and take a break. I think I did a lot of that during this time, and it was necessary, because the most important thing for me is freedom. The freedom that I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get until mid- to late 30s, I’ve been experiencing today.”
Evann Webb (@damselindetroitblog)
For Evann Webb, balancing her job as social media specialist for the online plant shop Bloomscape with her own projects for her lifestyle blog and podcast, Damsel in Detroit, all while allowing herself to just be during the pandemic is still a process. But she’s taking it day by day.
Her recent personal projects have expanded beyond her regular fashion and beauty content to community-focused campaigns. She’s wrapping up a four-part blog series with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority that started in April. It explores her own homebuying journey and shares resources and programs the MSHDA offers. She also did campaigns urging Michiganders to fill out the 2020 census and participated in Your Children’s Foundation and iHeartMedia’s #iCareMI campaign, which raised money for Michigan children and families affected by COVID-19.
Being vocal and transparent about her adjustment to a new normal while being a Black woman has been important for Webb, and it motivates her to keep showing up in the digital space: “Knowing that I have some type of influence, and just knowing that there are people actually paying attention to my content, or people that are inspired by it, really does motivate me.”