The internet seems to be forgetting that we are in the middle of an uprising, and people are actively ignoring that we are in the middle of a pandemic! Highlights: A conversation about accountability among Instagram influencers, revolution is not a one-time event, the politics of storytelling, Black bodies as Confederate monuments, the B in Black should always be uppercase, the modern world was built with Indigenous tools and knowledge, Vanessa Guillen, white women with guns, and COVID-19 parties are apparently a thing.
Content/Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault
Gem—a leftist, abolitionist, and social media influencer—deactivated their accounts this week after it resurfaced that they raped someone. Initially, this was made public about a year ago and Gem posted a public apology and highlighted a story discussing the rape and community accountability on Instagram—all of which was subsequently buried under many other posts. Further, tweets in which Gem made rape jokes resurfaced from when Gem was a teenager.
In this IG Live conversation, Jewel—also an abolitionist, organizer, survivor, and someone with whom Gem is in community—and Gem discuss how Gem’s more recent apology is not enough and attempt to figure out what accountability looks like without the intervention of police. The conversation is incredibly heavy and informative as a model of what transformative justice and accountability might look like going forward. Consistently, Jewel reiterates that accountability “isn’t pretty,” it is hard, she is not here to make Gem feel good, and she doesn’t feel good having this conversation with another Black person.
The conversation is also very disappointing in that Gem does not seem to take the situation seriously, and is dismissive of Jewel’s feedback and the requests she conveys from the anonymous survivor. On multiple occasions Gem appears to laugh or scoff when Jewel expresses doubt that Gem has indeed grown, and that it is triggering for her, the harmed person, and other survivors to see them when their posts go viral. This last point is particularly difficult as Gem had more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, which translates to money (Gem also had a Patreon). When asked why Gem didn’t promote or share that this conversation with Jewel was taking place, they had no real answer and seemed incredibly defensive. Further, while this conversation is framed around one harmed person, in the comments on the live chat many people indicated that there are more.
Apparently, some took issue with how Jewel handled the conversation, and questioned why she was even having it in the first place, to which she posted a follow-up video clarifying her position and how she got involved.
I, and many of my friends, followed Gem and they had gained considerable influence over the past year. I am sorry for promoting Gem on these lists in the past. Follow Jewel.