Social Justice Guides Are All Over Instagram

Though these guides are digital, they borrow from the analog art of zine making.

“Zines, you know, it’s a democratic way to share information,” said Barbara Calderón, 32, an intersectional artist and librarian and a founder of Colectiva Cósmica, an art collective that hosts art workshops, publishes zines and organizes within creative communities. “The zine has always been about providing access.”

Though heralded for their scrappy, D.I.Y. spirit, these guides take time and work to make. Members of the S.N.C.C. read through a 12-book set of the Alabama Code of Laws to inform their work. @southasians4blacklives, which is run by volunteers, developed 12 hours of curriculum and programming that would have been conducted in person.

“We have to recognize that this is a real form of education and a real form of labor that’s happening, especially from Black folks, especially from trans folks, who are sharing very critical knowledge with us,” Bharoocha said. “Followers aren’t going to pay their rent, and they’re not going to compensate people. We have to find better ways to compensate for that kind of labor in monetary ways especially, however we can.”

Although Instagram has helped people connect during this period of isolation and unrest, many creators are skeptical of its ability to help build a more equitable society. Rather, they see it as a stopgap for educating people and encouraging civic engagement.

“I think we all have to be really aware that learning doesn’t end on Instagram. It’s literally the beginning of the beginning,” Newman said. “But I do think it’s always important to think about how you can take the spaces that we have on Instagram and turn them into communities off of that platform.”

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