Instagram user accused of capitalizing on Ijeoma Oluo’s anti-racist book | Books

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The white woman behind an Instagram account with nearly three million followers apologized for the “harm” she caused to bestselling black author Ijeoma Oluo.

Oluo’s review of breed in America, So You Want to Talk About Race, was released in 2018 and hit the bestseller charts following the murder of George Floyd last summer. Jessica Natale’s Instagram account of the same name @soyouwanttotalkabout was launched in February 2020, covering topics such as voting rights, gun reform and the sentencing of Derek Chauvin, presenting information in a series of slideshows in tones deaf. In April of that year, Natale landed a book deal with Little, Brown and revealed her previously concealed identity.

Oluo had said Natale’s decision to name her Instagram account @soyouwanttotalkabout was “duplicity and shady”, describing her as a “white woman who capitalizes on the work of other people of color and other marginalized populations.”

The covers side by side: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (2018) and So, Let’s Talk about It: A Tool Kit for Unlearning by Jessica Natale (October 2021). Composite: Basic Books / Voracious

Oluo said in an Instagram story that she first saw Natale’s account last year. “Last summer, in the midst of this global uprising for black lives, the popularity of my work… soared. And so in the middle of it all, as I face the trauma of being a black person in America… I get these messages from people saying… is that you? she said. “I tell myself that’s exactly one word less than the title of my book which is currently selling in stores around the world, and it talks about race and other issues. So I reached over to the page and I was like, it’s really similar to the title of my book, I’d like to know who’s behind that account.

Oluo, who has 521,000 followers on Instagram, said his question about the identity of the person who manages the account was “completely ignored,” but a small warning was added to let readers know that Oluo was not there. not affiliated. “I knew from their response that it was immediately a white person, because otherwise you wouldn’t ignore this question of who is behind this account,” Oluo said. “It’s really heartbreaking to hear from hundreds of people who didn’t know this wasn’t my page.”

Natale has now renamed her Instagram page So Informed, “out of respect for Ijeoma Oluo”. She also apologized “for the harm” she caused the author and said that the publication of her book had been suspended.

“I recognize that once again people of color have had to carry the burden of education, and I regret that my actions have increased that burden,” she wrote on Instagram. “This page is about truth and dialogue. This conversation will be ongoing. Thank you all for holding me accountable. “

Oluo also criticized the way Natale and other accounts like his share information. “I am not interested in the meme-ification of anti-racist and social justice work. I’m not interested in making this complex 400-plus-year-old system easy for whites to digest. I’m not trying to give you an easy way to feel like you’ve done something just by reading a post, “she said on Instagram.” I hope from now on those 2.8 millions of people who come for easy, fast, and fun information to help them feel informed will actually be connected to people who do a real job. “

This isn’t the first time that a white social media influencer has been accused of taking credit for a black author’s ideas and format. Last year, in a now-deleted Instagram post, influencer Chidera Eggerue, who goes by the nickname Slumflower, said that her colleague Florence Given’s self-help book, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, was “essentially a merger” of Eggerue. own What a time to be alone and how to overcome a boy.

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