Edina resident Jasmine Brett Stringer is a keynote speaker, award-winning author, on-air TV personality and host of the podcast and lifestyle blog Carpe Diem with Jasmine. On Blackout Tuesday, Stringer had yet another idea to inspire positive change. Blackout Tuesday was an online response to racism and police brutality and took place on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 when social media users were encouraged to post a single photo of a black square alongside the hashtag #blackouttuesday. This collective action was supposed to prompt reflection on racism and its effects on society.
On that day, WCCO’s Jason DeRusha posted pictures on his Instagram account of Black and Brown people in order to elevate their voices and platforms and he included Stringer. She says, “I was grateful, but his audience already knows me.” That said, Stringer did get a significant increase in Instagram followers that day, so she knows there is potential in these types of campaigns to elevate the voices of people of color.
That same week, Stringer was chatting with a friend from South Carolina, a white woman who asked Stringer about her philosophy of starting where you are. According to Stringer, the woman said she was going to start quoting more Black women in her work and update her resource lists of books and podcasts to include more people of color. “Is that what you meant about starting where you are?” she asked Stringer who responded, “Yes! That’s exactly what I meant.”
Stringer then recalls having a good laugh on the phone with another white friend when the two noted how so many people had been suggesting they read [a popular self-help book by a white female author]. “All summer people kept saying that book is so good, and I thought, ‘I’m inspirational,’ I’m going to send messages asking how people are supporting Black and Brown women and ask them to support me,” Stringer says. That night on television, Stringer heard about Share the Mic Now, an online action where stars share their social media platforms with Black activists for a day. She says, “I went to sleep and woke up with a divine assignment-to do Share the Mic MN.”
Her premise is that our social media accounts are extremely curated with content from friends and family or aspirational and inspirational influencers who look like us. She notes that people talk about church on Sunday morning being one of the most segregated hours in the week, but “unless you have an abundance of diverse friends, you’re not seeing much from [diverse sources] sharing their stories and experiences online,” and she wanted to give Black and Brown women an opportunity to expand their reach.
At her core, Stringer believes in the power of social media, that it has a lasting effect. She also tells people to affect positive change by starting where they are, and, “we all have social media so you can start there.”
So, she started reaching out to her network and asking influential Minnesotans if they would share their online platforms with a person of color for a day. The mission of Share the Mic MN is to amplify the work, lives and stories of dynamic Brown/Black women residing in Minnesota by expanding the reach of their voices. She notes the project had to include the entire state, not just the metro area. She says, “Because of my connection to rural communities, I wanted to make sure I’m including diverse voices from around the state.”
Stringer assembled an advisory team and began pairing allies with partners. On June 24, Edina Magazine participated in the first Share the Mic MN event by turning over its Instagram platform to Twila Dang, a married mother of three and founder of Matriarch Digital Media, a company that creates on-demand content to educate and uplift women. Dang’s personal Instagram “story” posts were so popular, we were asked to save them on our Instagram “highlights” section so viewers can see or re-watch the content after its typical 24-hour lifecycle.
Since then, many more allies and partners have participated in Share the Mic MN, including Nicole Jennings, Gavin Kaysen and Heather Edelson of Edina. Stringer’s goal is to have 50 pairings by the end of the year. You can learn more and sign up to be a partner or ally at sharethemicmn.com.