Let’s Talk Finsta: Using Your Voice as Power

Last week, as a part of the MLK Celebration, I attended a convocation on “Shaping the Dream: Inclusive Excellence and the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” with Dr. Damon Williams. Not to be cliche but because Dr. Williams was engaged with the audience, it really inspired me to further my advocacy and ability to utilize everyday outlets as a means of expression.

In one part of the lecture, he spoke about “finstas” and used that as a segway to understand the importance of the recent incident in Alabama in which a former student was expelled from the University of Alabama following her racist remarks on her finsta. If you are unsure about what a finsta is, essentially it is a “fake insta” where people post things that they would not on their real Instagram profile, or “rinsta”. The concept of finsta is variable depending on what someone chooses to do with it. For example. some people may post pictures that they could not on their rinsta, or some people use it as a way to communicate their thoughts/feelings through captions.

The AU student used the “n-word” multiple times throughout the video she posted on her Insta and the astonishing thing about the incident is that she posted it on MLK Day, which she points out in the video. “I’m from New Jersey so I can say n---as much as I want,” the former student says in her video as she is called out by another person in the video, who implies that the video should not be posted. Referring back to the lecture, Dr. Williams highlighted that although she was expelled, it would have been a viable moment for the University to educate the woman.

Some of us may or may not have finstas, but the idea of a finsta is that it is focused on who you can talk to and who you want to listen to you. While the age of digital media rises and digital literacy becomes an important aspect of our lives, I think it is important to understand its impact in regards to innovation becoming the catalyst for change. Although I am aware that it is common knowledge to not post things that are problematic, I think it is important to start discussions like these through some kind of platform; as opposed to being only “lip service” in the words of Dr. Williams, one must be able to connect the ideas and beliefs they have. If you feel as if your ability to make some kind of change is through the use of a finsta or blogging or even a small discussion with your peers, then nonetheless it would create a ripple effect.

Through the lecture, I was inspired to openly discuss the restoration of justice and education through the use of social media accounts. Props to those that advocate and speak their mind on their rinsta’s. I know the Instagram game is real (trust me even I struggle), and maintaining an aesthetic is relatively the new trend now, but shape the dream and strive for excellence within your platform of choice.