I wrote this post yesterday but chose to publish it today – Wednesday 3 June, 2020.

 

It’s no longer #BlackoutTuesday. I still care, but I’m still angry.


Today is Blackout Tuesday, a day-long “blackout” in response to George Floyd’s death last week. The initiative began within the music industry with the three major record labels promising “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community”.

 

Very quickly, the message worked its way across the world and into the mainstream, with corporations and influencers alike all sharing their intention to pause from posting.

 

I have been intently watching the news and reading up on what’s going on in an effort to educate myself. At the age of 32, I still feel like there’s so much in this world that I am shielded from and completely disconnected from. But that shouldn’t be the case.

 

This is my responsibility to do better: do it because I care; do it because it’s the only right thing to do, and not just do it because it’s ‘on trend’ and everyone else is doing it.

 

So, while all this is going on, why do I feel angry?  

 

I’m angry that it takes a high profile murder of an innocent black man to reignite the conversation in the mainstream media.

 

I’m angry that I feel helpless. I feel disconnected from a very apparent reality; a reality that often doesn’t feel like mine. This reality, however, is mine and one that needs to be discussed and changed.

 

I’m angry that I felt pressured to post. I had chosen to observe the day and not post across social media. I had also decided that I wanted to learn more, gather the facts and arm myself with information before sharing with my audience on social media. As I saw all the posts come in on my feed, I panicked. I panicked that my silence would speak louder than posting something that took me 3 minutes to do. I wanted time to read, I wanted time to understand and I wanted time to discuss.

 

I’m angry that we are still having this conversation. It’s 2020 and it feels like we’ve gone back in time.

 

I’m angry that this has to be something that we educate ourselves on. Why is this still happening?

 

I’m angry that I’m cynical about the intentions of other creators. This is not a one-day conversation. This is not another #Ad campaign. We need to be constantly discussing this and this needs to be the new normal. It cannot just be something that we post about when we feel pressured to do so because others are doing it. We all have a responsibility and not just for one #BlackoutTuesday. 

 

I’m angry that I felt like I had to post this article. I had so much going on in my head and I didn’t know what to do with it. I felt like the only thing at this very moment was to share how I felt. Perhaps I was wrong.

 

I’m angry that the elected officials in power do not represent the people.

 

I’m angry that so many people that protest have chosen not to vote.

 

I’m angry that this post will anger other people. Despite reading this over and over, I’m sure I’ve said something which makes other people feel uncomfortable or that makes me appear to be clueless, out-of-touch or disconnected. But I need to be part of the solution and not the problem. So if in angering you, I’ve made you think about your own actions and mentality, I can accept that.

 

I’m angry but I’m ready. I’m ready to continue this conversation, and I’m ready to be part of the solution.

As an individual, I am doing what I can to be present in this conversation, to listen and to decide how I can best make a positive impact.

As a business, I am evaluating how I can be more inclusive – from the content I share to the brands I work with. This will take time, but it’s happening.

  • DEED says:

    First at all you doing a great job, second I`m not white.
    Well I think that you can improve but keep in the same way, no change at all is necessay, I desagree wiht CJ I think in life must be a large menu of things, as you says you talking about your own experience and that is good, your share with passion what you do, is necessary be politically correct? yes but between your own boundries.
    Keeping what is natural in you, Could you add content? yes targeted different people? yes but you must do it? no, is a choice, is not mandatory, you do what make you comfortable, that make natural and that is what we like.
    You are doing a great job even for a non white guy ;).
    I can`t recommend any book :), but you no need that kind of advice. like Madonna says Express yourself!!!
    Cheers

  • CJ says:

    Hi Robin, I am one of your former viewers from YouTube, I recently unfollowed you because I had accepted the fact that your channel was not aimed at a black audience. Ironically, you empowered me to unfollow you. In on of your posts on here, dating back to 2016 you talked about the Power of the Unfollow Button, here is an excerpt from your post as a reminder, “Last week I had the realisation that I was following people that made me feel bad about myself – like my life was less exciting, less glamorous and ultimately less fulfilling. It was at this point that I said “goodbye” to their photoshopped personas and “hello” to a clearer mind. I hit the unfollow button.” This sentiment is exactly the reason why I unfollowed you. Instead of or after posting a blackout photo, please consider highlighting black artists, business people and tastemakers to use your platform to amplify black voices, in the beauty, grooming and fashion industry.

    I recently went through your videos and out of the 617 videos you uploaded to YouTube, you have only 2 videos featuring people of color: “| Expert’s Opinion; Best Dressed Men Online | Style Stories ft. Sangiev | Men’s Fashion” & “It killed my hair” | Lewis Hamilton: Hair & Grooming. In 2019, you posted a video of the 5 Men’s Hairstyles To Try In 2019 and not one of those styles featured a black hairstyle. And in 2020 you posted a similar video inspired by only white men, Featuring Brad Pitt, Timothee Chalamet, Jared Leto, Jake Gyllenhaal and James Dean.

    I have commented on your videos in the past, I commented on Men’s Haircut For Thick, Asian Hair | 2020 Hairstyle Tutorial and commented on Men’s Medium Length Haircut For Fine Hair | 2020 Hairstyle, however, you ignored my comment to the first video, so reposted the same message on the following video and you did finally respond, but 2 months passed and 21 videos later and STILL nothing for your black audience.

    I hope you do take action as you have promised and if you want a little light reading I would suggest the following books:

    How to Be an Antiracist/Ibram X. Kendi/2019
    White Fragility/Robin J. Diangelo/June 26, 2018
    Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race/Beverley Daniel Tatum/2017
    White Rage/Carol Anderson/2017
    Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race/Renni Eddo-Lodge/2017
    Between the World and Me/Ta-Nehisi Coates/2015
    The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness/Michelle Alexander/2010
    The World That Made New Orleans/Ned Sublette/2008
    Black Feminist Thought/Patricia Hill Collins/2000
    Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower/Brittney Cooper/2018
    Heavy: An American Memoir/Kiese Laymon/2018
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings/Maya Angelou/1969
    Just Mercy/Bryan Stevenson/2014
    Me and White Supremacy/Layla F. Saad/2020
    Raising our Hands/Jenna Arnold/2020
    Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More/Janet Mock/2014
    Sister Outsider/Audrey Lord/1984
    So You Want to Talk About Race/Ijeoma Oluo/2018
    The Bluest Eye/Toni Morrison/1970
    The Fire Next Time/James Baldwin/1962
    The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century/Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige, and Danny Glover/2011
    The Warmth of Other Suns/Isabel Wilkerson/2010
    This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color/Roasrio Morales/1984
    Women, Race, and Class/Angela Davis/1981
    Are Prisons Obsolete?/Angela Davis/2003
    Black Marxism: The Making of Black Radical Tradition/Cedric Robinson/1983
    Wretched of the Earth/Frantz Fanon/1961
    Black Skin, White Masks/Frantz Fanon/1952
    Common Ground/J. Anthony Lukas/1985
    Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race/Debby Irving/2014

    • Robin James says:

      Hi CJ, 

      Firstly, thanks so much for reading my post and for commenting. I really appreciate your time and your feedback. 

      It’s really interesting and eye-opening to read that you unfollowed me because you didn’t feel that my content was aimed at a black audience. I  really had to think about this and understand why this was. Hopefully what I have written here will help to explain my situation: 

      When I started blogging (2012) and YouTube (2013), my posts were public diary entries. The posts would share my own personal experience of products and experiences. At most, I had 10 people watching a video in a day. 

      As a white man in his [then] 20s, I was talking about hair and skin products that worked for my Caucasian skin and straight, fine, flyaway hair. It was a journey of experimentation and sharing these online. Fast forward to now and I have built an audience and a platform (YouTube and ManForHimself.com) as a result of my expertise. This expertise has not come from formal training or studying, but it has been as a direct result of sharing my own personal experience. 

      Now, the world of blogging and vlogging has changed but when it began, we followed people that spoke about things we – personally – were interested in. As such, I built up an audience of men that looked like me. My audience is predominantly men (93% male) aged 25-34 in the US and the UK. These men were coming to me because they – visually – saw part of themselves in me. They knew that the products I used and enjoyed should work for them. And if not, they knew that I could direct them to the right place. 

      In the 7 years that I have been on YouTube, I have never once tested or reviewed products for dry skin; acne or dandruff. Not because I didn’t want to, but because – as one man – I had no experience of it.

      Now, what does this have to do about me and not representing a black audience? Well, the truth is that I – perhaps naively – never really thought about it. I was talking about me. As one man. I am not a corporation; I am not a large business; I do not have a huge team (me, a writer, editor when I can and a manager for commercial work); and I do not have a publicist or a PR advisor. So, when conversations like this come up, I find them difficult and I try to do the right thing. In this case, it goes back to why I started my channel – to share my experience. The article I have written here details my own personal experience and my own intentions; really,  as a man that started in a bedroom and has gone on to build a business. 

      I have huge respect for anyone that speaks out and holds others accountable. It is so important. That said, I am also very much about facts. 
      You mentioned that of the 617 videos that I uploaded, I only have 2 people of colour. It would appear that you only went looking at thumbnails and have missed content. 

      In the last year, as I have continued to grow my channel and business, I have made a concerted effort to be more representative. If you would like to see more videos, may I suggest: 

      London | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/2MVwLftdzZU 
      London | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/iix4iRvm_mY 
      London | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/a3wodQIoLyY 
      London | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/aSca2fxN9Mw 
      London | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/XZ36v-ISgz4 
      LFWM | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/YUaTQCWqR8o 
      Amsterdam | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/w7dbDjR-LO0 
      Lewis Hamilton’s Hair Transplant  – https://youtu.be/8opZzDDq8mE
      Glasgow | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/4NQPDnvjmqU 
      Brooklyn, NY | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/AMACSiUvKu0
      NYC | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/NHelpoP2R10 
      Haircut and Style – https://youtu.be/NrrG_NmyHVM 
      Paris | Street Styled – https://youtu.be/yHpuumLmqVg 

      Many of these men have featured in my Street Styled series. I have loved creating this series because it’s moved the focus off me and allowed me to showcase diversity. It’s not been about one hair or skin type, but about men and their individual style. At its very heart, this series is about championing diversity. Guys with amazing style! 

      Also, as I develop ManForHimself.com and launch the Hairstyle Directory, I have again removed my face from this section (one pic of me out of 50) and looked to bring in more diverse models. Sure, there are only three haircuts and styles, but this is three so far! It won’t stop here. https://manforhimself.com/hairstyle/mens-afro-hairstyles/ 

      I hate that I felt the need to defend myself in such a way, but if I’m prepared to be held accountable for my content and actions, I am also prepared to show you what I have been doing. 

      As I mentioned in my article, this is just the start. There is so much more to do but I have begun and I am here for the long haul. 

      Thanks again for your time. 

      Robin 

  • KJ says:

    Thanks, Robin! I’m your 63 year old (African American) biggest fan, over on YouTube and Instagram. I think it’s wonderful that you are supporting us, in this way. I’m a Detroit 1967 Riot survivor. I was ten and home alone, for three days, because my mother wasn’t allowed to drive from her job, in the suburbs, back into Detroit.

    I hear you. I see you. I feel your support!

    • Robin James says:

      Thank you. I really appreciate this. And thank you for sharing your story.

      Loads to be done but it’s begun.

  • Christopher says:

    Hi Robin. I found this post interesting as I felt the same. I had to remind myself and I remind you too that, you are a good person with good intentions. Having a brand with a specific subject matter is tricky to find the balance for your business and viewers.
    From what can read, I like you have a conscious.
    You are totally right in saying that we need to be discussing these topics to the point of eradicating the problem itself.
    When starting my business I wanted to integrate a philosophy and ethos that would benefit our planet and Humanity as a whole.
    I am confident this is the way forward. I feel like every business and person should on some level support Humanity on moving forward together.
    I’m glad that you decide to post this today. It’s now “not on trend” and because of that you are more relevant to me and to Humanity as it’s not a “one day” topic.
    I understand it will take time but I’m glad you have decided to use your business and presence to your bit. Be prepared to lose some of your following. However, you will gain much more in the end. Be your beautiful authentic self and take time to relax. All will be well.
    Thank you for this post.
    Christopher

    • Robin James says:

      Thank you, Christopher. I really appreciate your time in reading this and for sharing your own experience.
      All in it together.

    • Christopher says:

      No problem Robin. Apologies for the poor grammar lol… I’m not the best at multi tasking.
      Have a good day.
      Christopher