Discover more from Sharon's Anti-Racism Newsletter
Meet Anti-Racism Activist Ashani Mfuko
And learn how she uses "edutainment" and dance to educate people about racism
Ashani Mfuko first came to my attention because she was posting dance videos on LinkedIn. These weren’t any ordinary dance videos, though. They were videos highlighting serious messages about racism and anti-racism. I’ve always thought it was a super-smart way to make people stop and look, and then to deliver the truths they needed to hear once they did. In the time I’ve known her, Ashani has continued to expand her anti-racism work, so I was delighted that she agreed to be interviewed here. Please meet Ashani.
Ashani, what made you become an anti-racism activist?
After the murder video of George Floyd surfaced, and all hell broke loose in the world, I felt an overwhelming responsibility to do something more than just share anti-racist quotes, information, resources, black squares, hashtags, and social media posts, around the anti-racism movement.
I wanted to do something more…something that I could tell my Black son, and my Black daughters, that mommy did to help make the world a more beautiful place for them, and for all of our children.
So I created Anti-Racism School Is In Session™, an educational training series, to educate, inform, and illuminate issues around systemic racism in America, as well as my 21 Days of Anti-Racism Challenge to help empower people to make anti-racism a lifestyle, 365 days of the year.
What anti-racist cause are you most passionate about, and why?
I'm most passionate about anti-racism education, empowering every day people to become bold, anti-racist leaders, as well as helping business owners and entrepreneurs build anti-racist brands and companies. I'm most passionate about anti-racism education, and helping people build anti-racist companies because education is transformative!
Additionally, companies and brands of all sizes, have the power to make a positive difference in the world, through their profits, and by creating anti-racist practices and workplace culture, that embraces and celebrates our unique differences, and lived experiences, while intentionally correcting and repairing the racial inequities that still exist today.
What form does your activism take?
My activism takes the form of educating through online videos, due to my background in dance and multimedia (primarily videos/tv). So I focus on creating "edutainment" videos. I create captivating video content that catches people's eyes, stops them in their scrolling tracks, and compels them to watch, be educated, and be entertained at the same time.
I've had many of my videos go viral on TikTok, and LinkedIn, and I've even had my videos featured on BuzzFeed. It was because of my anti-racism education videos on TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, that I was featured on Spectrum News, highlighting my Anti-Racism School Is In Session™ educational training series, back in June of 2020.
Prior to George Floyd's murder, I spent many years educating dance business owners, and dance professionals worldwide, on the power of branding and digital marketing, how to create captivating content online, and how to monetize their brands in multiple ways, in the online space. I did this through creating online courses, hosting webinars, group coaching programs and digital products, all of which included educating through videos.
Videos are my sweet spot, and the way that people connect with me the most, and the best way for me to get my message across to my online community, in a way that truly transforms their mind, their perspective, and their response to systemic racism.
Whether I'm hosting an anti-racism education webinar, doing a virtual speaking engagement, or simply doing a live Q&A for my Patreon community, I'm always using video as a tool to connect with others, and expose them to information, resources, history, and understanding that they may have never known about before, and I take that very seriously.
What response have you had?
The response to my online videos, my webinars/trainings, and my 21 Days of Anti-Racism Challenge has been overwhelmingly positive!! I did not expect that to be the case, but it has been! I really braced myself, as I started addressing some really hard topics, on the realities of systemic racism, in a very raw and uncut kind of way, knowing that racist people would be triggered by my videos.
Although I have definitely dealt with my fair share of online racism, harassment, and bullying, those types of responses are of no comparison to the amount of positive responses that I continue to receive on my videos every day. I always feel so encouraged when people tell me that my videos have opened their eyes to things they never noticed before, or how my videos helped them to finally speak up and speak out against racism with their racist family members, or colleagues. That makes it all worth it...to know that I am making a positive difference.
In terms of anti-racism content, which are your top three articles or social media posts?
This video has almost 330,000 views on TikTok, and hundreds of comments, and I never expected to receive a response like that from this video. But it's one of those perspectives that either immediately speaks to you in a way that you feel seen and heard, or it immediately turns you off because you strongly disagree. My posts almost never garner a lukewarm response from people, and I'm proud of that.
I like to hit people with the hard truths in a way that is easy digest and receive, even though it might sting a little, all while dancing, and expressing myself lol.
Making clear and succinct points like this, in a video that's less than 60 seconds long, is truly a skill! But I believe that when you're able to break down controversial view points, in a direct and concise way, it has a tremendous impact. It gives people something to ponder, long after they've watched the video, and I love that!
Share one anti-racism article written by someone else that really made an impact on you.
This article, The Erasure Of Black Women’s Contributions: From Past To Present, by Dr. Janice Gassam Asare, really struck a chord with me! I love and read all of her newsletter articles, but this one really hit home for me, as I have had white women take credit for my work many times in the past, without acknowledging me at all, and also not providing me with proper compensation for my work.
As a Professional Dancer, I am also always frustrated every time I see TikTok dances, created and choreographed by Black women, go viral, with white women becoming the center of attention for doing the dances, while the original Creators (Black women) do not get the proper credit, recognition, financial compensation, or media attention for it. But as Dr. Janice explains throughout her article, this behavior is nothing new. It's been happening throughout history, and is still prevalent today. But it needs to stop!
In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
My vision for the future of racism is that it's a dying breed, and that more non-Black people are becoming aware of the insidiousness of racism, and how they've internalized it, and they are doing the (difficult and sometimes painful) work to unlearn it. I think that with all of the online resources available to the younger generation, they are not going to automatically and blindly adopt the racist viewpoints, behaviors, and attitudes of their parents, and grandparents. I think the younger generation is more open to change, and they are going to make sure it happens. As far as I'm concerned, the future looks bright, and racism is losing momentum, even though it often appears otherwise. I'm hopeful.
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.