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This mic is on: Black women in Colorado take over Instagram accounts of white allies

The #ShareTheMicCO swapping of social accounts was spurred by national effort to give black women a louder voice

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After seeing the impact of the #ShareTheMicNow Instagram campaign, where black women took over the accounts of white celebrities last week, Ida Pennymon’s brain began churning. This could happen in Colorado, she realized. 

She began tapping her network and reached out to Bozoma Saint John, an old family friend who was behind the national campaign. Saint John, who spent some of her childhood in Colorado Springs, gave her blessing for Pennymon to duplicate the effort in Colorado. Within 48 hours, Pennymon and dozens of others were on a video conference and in less than a week, 16 black women from the Front Range have taken over Instagram accounts of their white allies to amplify black voices. That’s happening today at #ShareTheMicCO.

“I know a lot of great women in Colorado, I know women who know other women in Colorado and felt we can do something just like that to amplify the voices of black women in Colorado,” said Pennymon, director of global events at Cherwell Software in Colorado Springs.

The celebrity grassroots effort on June 10 paired up Saint John with celebrity Kourtney Kardashian;  Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood and Sen. Elizabeth Warren; and Austin Channing Brown, author of bestseller “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,” with Brene Brown the author of bestselling books on leadership

In just a few days, the #ShareTheMicCO effort was created and organized to amplify the voices of black women in Colorado by partnering with white female allies who have thousands of Instagram followers. (Provided by Olivia Omega)

In Colorado, Pennymon took over the account of Denver travel and style guru Stephanie Rosa; Rep. Leslie Herod swapped with Erin Busbee, stylist and founder of Busbee Style in Telluride; while Lizelle van Vuuren, founder of Women Who Startup, handed her Instagram keys to Kendra Anderson, owner of Bar Helix in Denver’s RiNo district.

“It’s good to see action,” said van Vuuren, who hosted Anderson on an Instagram livestream on Wednesday and learned that Bar Helix was reopening as Cabana X. “Where there’s action, there’s momentum. Where there’s momentum, there’s progress.”

The informal effort only has a hashtag (#ShareTheMicCO) to help interested Instagram users follow along. Each pair of participants managed their own activity throughout the day. Pennymon’s set to take hold of Rosa’s account around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a key time based on Rosa’s own data and analytics of when followers are paying attention.

In just a few days, the #ShareTheMicCO effort was created and organized to amplify the voices of black women in Colorado by partnering with white female allies who have thousands of Instagram followers. (Provided by Olivia Omega)

“For me, my message is about how you can become aware of where your level of engagement is with the current movement. I think a lot of people see the memes, they see the information and then that’s it. It kind of leaves their mind,” Pennymon said. “I think most of Stephanie’s followers are white women. I just want to encourage them and ask them ‘Which level do you fall into? Are you interested in graduating to the next level and doing more and becoming more aware of your power and how you can use it to make a difference.’”

While the Instagram swap is only for a day, fellow Colorado organizer Olivia Omega (who’s taking over Denver gift-store owner Erika Righter’s HopeTank account) said the goal is to continue with a keep-sharing-the-mic message. She’s already been bombarded with requests from more women wanting to participate. Organizers will gather Friday to talk about how the event went and possibly plan another future trade. 

“Many times when we’re asked to participate or speak or be involved in things we’re told how to do it or what to talk about or how to show up,” she said. “Our hope is that black women are encouraged to show up and have the strength and the energy to show up more authentically. And that white allies are more aware of the platform and the power they have and that they can leverage that however they choose.”

The Who’s Who in #ShareTheMicCO

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