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'A responsibility to speak out': YouTube star Eva Gutowski on what influencers and brands can do to support Black Lives Matter

Eva Gutowski
  • In response to George Floyd's death after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, many social-media influencers have spoken out online demanding change. 
  • Popular YouTube star Eva Gutowski is urging her fellow creators to use their platforms to build a conversation and take a stance.
  • "I'm in the position that I am because I am good at public speaking, so it would be the biggest injustice to not use the one thing that I am good at, which is talking to people, and not help educate people," she told Business Insider. 
  • Gutowski shared her thoughts on how influencers can use their platforms responsibly and why creators want to support brands that speak out.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As protests in response to George Floyd's death erupted this week, many social-media influencers have spoken out online demanding change.
Eva Gutowski, a popular influencer with 11 million YouTube subscribers, is urging her fellow creators to use their platforms to build a conversation and take a stance.
"I was inspired by my grandparents," Gutowski told Business Insider. "I've heard stories since I was a kid of my grandfather protesting back when Martin Luther King Jr. was alive. They are white, and so because I'm mixed it makes me feel like I have a responsibility to speak out for both sides of my culture."
Many brands and influencers have stopped paid campaigns this week and they're also under pressure from fans to speak out in support of protesters and the racial-justice movement. Fans have urged social stars to either promote Black Lives Matter or stop posting, Insider reported. And some brands that delayed modifying their social-media strategies since the protests faced criticism from the creator community.
"Now we have social media so we have double the opportunity to amplify our voices," Gutowski said. "Not only do I feel like it is my responsibility to speak out, it's also just a no-brainer because I was given this platform. I'm in the position that I am because I am good at public speaking, so it would be the biggest injustice to not use the one thing that I am good at, which is talking to people."
This week, Gutowski has posted to all forms of social media, sharing a video on IGTV titled, "If you are confused about Black Lives Matter," with 1.7 million views, and she included a moment of silence for the lives lost due to racism mid-way through her recent YouTube video, which she said acted like an ad break, forcing people who were invested in the video to stop and take notice.
Speaking to Business Insider, Gutowski shared her thoughts on how influencers can use their platforms responsibly and why creators want to support brands that build conversations, instead of remaining silent.
Eva Gutowski Instagram BLM

'For someone that's afraid to say something, I get it'

For some influencers, sharing political views or responding to current events publicly can pose a risk to potential brand opportunities and it has long been safer for larger creators to stay neutral. But this week, especially on Instagram, some social-media stars who ignored George Floyd's death were called out by fans.
"On Instagram we are all paying attention to what is going on and we see the silence, it speaks volumes," Gutowski said. "For someone that's afraid to say something, I get it. When it comes to political issues people are afraid to speak up, but I wouldn't even consider this a political issue. I'd consider this a human rights issue."
Gutowski has long spoken up for issues she is passionate about, like animal rights, and she is vocal about which brands she doesn't or will no longer endorse, like the fast-fashion brand SHEIN.
"I'm a very proud advocate for environmentalism," she said. "But I try to show people that I am humble and I completely admit to mistakes I've made, because it's the only way to learn how to do better. It's the same thing with Black Lives Matter. What we all need to do is humble ourselves and realize that we don't know everything and we really just need to learn the history of every situation so we can better understand where people are coming from."

'I've gained so many more opportunities for things I'm actually very passionate about'

Gutowski said she urged her Instagram-famous friends who stayed silent to speak out.
"They don't really care to understand, which is the definition of white privilege in a nutshell — that they can afford not to care," she said. "It's doing more harm to them than good."
"These people that aren't saying anything right now, I just want to tell them that I've spoken out about so many things and I've heard it all about losing brand deals," she continued. "But I've gained so many more opportunities for things I'm actually very passionate about, like documentaries, travel, and I've gotten to really participate in really cool things with brands."

Companies are stopping influencer-marketing campaigns this week but Gutowski wants them to do more

Many brands are issuing statements condemning racism and offering messages of solidarity to protesters in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Some companies are shuttering influencer-marketing campaigns this week to avoid tone deafness on social media where most of the conversation is unfolding, and companies like TikTok, Spotify, YouTube Music, and Amazon all participated in "Blackout Tuesday."
But more than a statement or post on Instagram, Gutowski urges fair representation across brand campaigns and photoshoots, she said. Other influencers are calling out brands by name for their lack of inclusivity.
"By not speaking out people are watching and people want to support brands that are doing good things," she said. "It's just totally embarrassing to not speak out about this, no matter what your reasoning."

What Gutowski advises sharing online 

"Right now is an important time to have conversations that we can be thinking about next year, the year after that, and for future generations," she said.
Influencers are sharing resources like movies to watch, books to read, and linking where to donate, like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a widely shared bail fund for Minneapolis protesters.
David Dobrik (17 million YouTube subscribers) shared on Tuesday that he donated $50,000 to organizations helping the Black Lives Matter movement and Jimmy Donaldson (known as MrBeast with 35 million subscribers) donated $150,000 split between three causes, he shared on Twitter.
"Right now, I am educating my followers and friends just to open the conversation and do research, watch movies, documentaries, read books, that's really what shaped my whole perspective on this growing up, and I realized that so many people never even had those experiences," Gutowski said. "Now is the perfect time to sit down – we are all in quarantine still – and just read and watch things. I know it is such a tough topic but once we all get through that together we are going to be such a better generation to educate future generations."
For more on how brands and social-media stars are changing their campaigns, read this on BI Prime:
Brands and influencers are stopping their marketing campaigns to focus on messaging around the George Floyd protests
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* This article was originally published here Press Release Distribution

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