Hello! How’s your week? Thank you to everyone who is sharing their favorite holiday books for kids in the comments on this Instagram post. So many great suggestions.
I’m so excited to share my chat with Clare Brown, a TikTok star and Instagram gem known for her anti-racism videos. “It’s about starting the conversation of how our speech upholds white supremacy,” Clare told me. So much more below. You can follow her on Instagram at @clarabelletoks.
Lastly, I’m in the process of compiling my 2021 SMT Royal Year in Review. I would love to know what you consider the major moments of this year. Oprah, CLEARLY. Lilibet’s birth, obviously. Kate’s James Bond dress, naturally. What else? Hit “Join the Discussion” below or drop me a note: email@example.com.
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Clare Brown's viral short-form videos began with a simple question: “What if white people got micro-aggressed? What would that sound like?” She turned on her camera and started riffing, from the point of view of a Black woman doing the micro-aggressing. With these brilliant bits, talking to and about “European Americans,” she became a viral TikTok star. Her character is punchy and dismissive, referring to a plaid shirt as a “European tribal print” while taking aim at things like bland food and country music.
In one video, Clare's character expresses amused disbelief at the idea that a salesclerk might follow someone around a store. “You should film it next time so I can see, 'cause I had no idea stuff like that happened,” she says to a fictional white woman named Margin. “It’s kind of rude, though, you won’t go to the store just because of someone being curious.” She ends the video with a smug smile: “I personally think we should just all be kind, ya know?”
Although Clare's work and community is primarily on TikTok (where she has 15.8 *million* likes), she recently launched a second Instagram account where she posts the videos, too: @clarabelletoks. (Hooray! Follow her!) She's a mother of two with a full-time day job, and manages to make these videos in between meetings. As a self-proclaimed theatre kid and former fashion blogger, Clare says the videos give her an outlet for her creativity.
The idea for her the micro-aggression series came out of a troubling response she saw around the time of George Floyd’s death. “There were so many Black creators speaking their truths. People were like, ‘Oh, that’s so sad’ or ‘I feel so bad for you’ and then they just moved on,” Clare told me. “As a Black woman, this is what I experience. It’s so easy to listen and dismiss.” All too often, she added, the racism discussed is overt and obvious, the kind portrayed in movies or on television. “And then in the end, that doesn’t happen anymore and it’s all solved,” she said. “Really, racism is much more insidious.”
On TikTok, people take to the comments to continue the stories Clare starts in her videos or share their own experiences. “I think for lots of people of color who watch my videos it can be very therapeutic,” Clare said. “So many of those things happen to us and we don’t have a name for them or we think maybe it’s just us or we’re being too sensitive.”
In the 45-second videos, Clare doesn’t curse or lecture; most of the time she has an amused look or even a huge, strained smile. “The approach of centering whiteness is what makes people say, ‘Oh, this is what it feels like,’” Clare said. (And yes, it’s indicative of how problematic white people are that we need something centering us to drive the point home.) Humor is a means to an end for Clare. “I try to make it funny so people don’t feel like they’re being yelled at,” she said. “I think they are laughing through their discomfort.”
But mostly: Watch Clare's videos and then take a note from her followers, who have told her they share her videos with micro-aggressing family and friends. “They’ll just sort of casually send them my videos. Like, ‘This is so funny, what do you think?’” she said. It prompts a conversation about how they might feel and a chance to talk about how to reframe.
Maybe try it out this holiday season? Just a thought.
And follow Clare! Her anti-racism work is at @clarabelletoks.
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Five Things To Check Out This Week
READ + LISTEN + DONATE / President Joe Biden urged Congress to take action on gun control today, nine years after 20 students and six adults were murdered by a gunman at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn. The horrific anniversary comes on the heels of another school shooting in suburban Detroit earlier this month; the NYT’s Daily has an illuminating episode on the charges brought against the gunman’s parents. If you are able, please consider making a donation to or amplifying the message of Moms Demand Action. (Washington Post, The Daily, Moms Demand Action)
LISTEN / “Life is not just short — it’s precious.” Actor, director and entrepreneur Meagan Good offered up so much (needed!) life advice in her conversation with Hillary Kerr. (Second Life Podcast)
WATCH + READ / Slight spoiler from And Just Like That... BUT. Never have I ever blinked so rapidly in disbelief at a moment in television. COME ON. Why would they do that? This piece asks the question "Should Carrie have called 911?" Which, um, yes. (Vulture)
OOF / The invisible cost of motherhood, “Being Santa” edition. (@HappyasaMother Instagram)
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I’ll see you back in your inboxes on Friday with some royal news.
Remember to send me your 2021 SMT Royal Year in Review suggestions! Hit “Join the Discussion” below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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