Late last week, Sudanese beauty influencer Shahd Khidir (@hadyouatsalaam) took to her Instagram feed to talk about the massacre currently plaguing her home country. Shahd, who moved from Omdurman, Sudan, to the United States with her family when she was younger to flee civil political unrest and create a better life, wrote in her Instagram post: “It’s really hard being an influencer and sharing information that is ‘off brand’ and not worthy of the ‘feed’ but I cannot hold this in anymore. I am at my office crying because I have so many emotions in me and I feel horrible. There’s a massacre happening in my country Sudan’s and a media blackout and internet censorship for four consecutive days.”
Now based in New York, the 26-year-old, who still has family in Sudan, also pointed out the lack of media coverage the conflict has received saying, “There is no objective media sharing what’s going on except for @aljazeeraenglish which had their offices shot down.” According to The New York Times, in April the country’s former president Omar al-Bashir, known for being a dictator during his nearly 30 years in office, was “toppled by his [military] generals” following months of peaceful protests that called for a democratic nation. Since then, the African country (the continent’s third largest) has experienced at least 100 killings, with bodies ending up in Nile River (as of June 4), over 70 reported rape case, robberies, and more, all at the hands of the military forces, with Internet and cellular networks being shut down, as well.
After sharing about the massacre, Shahd got personal in her post, explaining, “My friend @mattar77 was MURDERED by the Rapid Support Forces. My best friend was in hiding on June 2 and that’s the last time I spoke to him. He was missing for 4 days and when I got in touch with him he said: ‘I was caught, beaten and abused and humiliated and arrested and had my phone confiscated from me. I am injured currently.’ And all I could do this post this.”
In an interview with Teen Vogue, Shahd says she felt an “impulse” to speak up about the massacre, expressing,
“I couldn’t handle not being in touch with my friends and family members especially those who are out protesting. After I lost contact with my friend it drove me insane and then when I did hear back it was bad news.” Shahd was devastated at work and didn’t have any friends or family around to support her. “I couldn’t keep it all in my head or wait until the end of the day to share.”
In the original Instagram post, Shahd included a note to the brands she is working with, saying, “I am sorry to all companies I am running campaigns with but my editorial calendar is currently on pause. I am willing to refund all and everything right away. Please, just send me an email.”
Shahd tells Teen Vogue that many of the companies have not responded to her, while others have been “so understanding and cooperative,” and she appreciates their support immensely.
Beyond this, Shahd also made a point to share a message with her Instagram community, offering, “To my followers/supporters who this is too much for I am also sorry but my regularly scheduled content/reviews is also on pause. If this offends you, I am sorry. But I need to speak out and share this in a time like this.”
Shahd later explained that it was hard and “scary” for her to share the post because it made her feel “vulnerable and weak”. “As a micro-influencer in the beauty community this photo of me without makeup and with blemishes and zits and tears down my face, it was really crazy,” she revealed. “I felt like being political, which is ironic because I am a political scientist by degree, would be the death of my career.” Her hesitation to be honest online shows just how much pressure there is for influencers to keep up appearances so their followers and brand partners are happy.
Ultimately, Shahd did not expect her post to go viral (it currently has more than 400,000 likes). In fact ,she says, “I expected people to unfollow me and for my influencing career to end right there.” The influencer thought that opening up about the situation would risk her career but that she felt she needed to say something. “It’s important for anyone that has a voice to speak up…If we don’t speak up about terrible injustices, who will?”
At the end of the original posting, Shahd went one step further to tell her followers, “If you want to support me please share this information as widely as possible and don’t be silent. Be an ally because we need your help. And tune into my stories for more information. THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS BEEN SILENT.”
So far, her 62,000 followers have responded positively. “They have stood by me and really touched my heart. I made an active effort to respond back to every single comment, and direct message but I got blocked from responding,” she shares over email. Accordingly, Shahd wishes she could hug every single person who has shared words of support.
When asked what more people can do to support those impacted by the massacre, Shahd says, “I encourage people to keep sharing information about the Sudan Revolution until there’s a civilian led democratic government. It’s important to spread awareness. It’s important to tell everyone what’s going on. Considering the fact that the Internet is completely blacked out, the Sudanese people have no connection with the outside world. So we have to connect them and spread information about their struggles. Also, please donate to funeral funds, and to medical supplies.” Shahd has continued to share about the conflict on her Instagram stories.
Shahd is not the only one speaking up about the massacre on social media. Yesterday, Rihanna also posted about the conflict on her Instagram stories.
Rihanna reposting a tweet by a non-Sudanese, about the current conditions in Sudan, shows the power social media has in raising awareness3065:20 PM – Jun 11, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy185 people are talking about this
Credit: Teen Vogue