By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
mgreen@afro.com

For centuries, African Americans were taught to squelch their voices, and even after the end of chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the election of the first Black President of the United States, their opinions and values tend to still be stifled.  However, Instagram, the photography and video based social media network owned by Facebook, that has more than one billion monthly and 500 million daily users, is encouraging Black people to use the platform to share their stories.

At the close of Black History Month, Instagram (or IG as the hip folks say) hosted a special “#ShareBlackStories: Instagram Masterclass” to teach Black users to take advantage of the platform at the Facebook office in Washington, D.C.

Instagram hosted the “#ShareBlackStories: Instagram Masterclass,” at the Facebook office in Washington, D.C. on Feb 27. (Courtesy Photo)

“We value the diversity on our platform, so being able to share stories that have been historically suppressed is really important to us,” said workshop host, Ashley Tucker, the Policy Program associate manager of the Diversity Program for Instagram.

“Part of our overall campaign for Instagram is called ‘Share Black Stories,’ and it’s really encouraging the Black community to express themselves and share more of their stories on Instagram,” Tucker said.

Instagram took to cities with large African-American populations, including Chicago, Atlanta and finally D.C. in order to bring the community together and teach attendees more about the platform, its policies and creative tools for further expression on the social network.

Ashley Tucker taught “#ShareBlackStories: Instagram Masterclass,” at the Facebook office in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 27. (Courtesy Photo)

“So we went through our privacy tools, our security tools and then did a little ‘best practices,’ interactive session on IGTV and Insta Stories,” she said.

While Instagram influencers get all the social media clout, the master-class taught by Tucker was an opportunity for any user to learn more about the platform.

“We really wanted it to be for your everyday user.  Folks who may not easily have access to us, so it wasn’t like an influencer only event.  I think we might have had one- maybe two. But this is for that local community organizer, your everyday user- people who are just looking to learn more about the platform and share their stories.  So it wasn’t like a highly exclusive event.”

Though the platform has some users, whose photography, videos and perfectly curated content could be featured in any magazine, television show and film, Tucker emphasized that quality stories can be told simply and with very little equipment.

“ really trying to lessen the fear and the thought that you need to have a built out studio in order to create some really good long-form content,” Tucker said.  “You can buy some wallpaper, throw it up and boom you have a studio. You can buy some inexpensive things on an Amazon or a WalMart, and there you go, you have a clean spot to create content.”

Tucker explained that sharing on Instagram is about being true to oneself.

“I think folks have a pressure to have highly produced videos and this pressure to be perfect on our platform, but we’re really leaning into being your authentic self– just showing up and sharing yourself in the way that you want to and feel natural.  That’s what’s really going to captivate an audience rather than trying to be perceived a certain way.” 

 

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor