A personal review of Jill Louise Busby's book, Unfollow Me: Essays on Complicity. Published in 2021 by Bloomsbury Publishing, this book highlights Jill's journey after being thrusted into fame after her rants on liberalism and white privilege went viral on Instagram.
Dear black revolutionary internet intellectuals,
Yo. Like, eventually there are only two answers. It's racism or self-hatred.
~~~~ Unfollow me: Essays on Complicity (Pg. 69)
Why I chose to read this Book?
I started reading this book for a lot of reasons. I used to work in a AmeriCorp program that brought me this sense of direction without teaching me intentions. Every training, volunteer day and link up brought me this ever-expanding awareness of our everyday complicity in our oppression. The placement I worked at defied the norms in some ways but upheld the dark side of liberalism and white feminisms within their culture.
While working in these places, (feeling oddly ostracized and accepted) I stumbled upon Jillisblack on Instagram. It was odd to witness someone who kinda looked like me having my thoughts on the outside. I was instantly infatuated with Jill and her rants. The way she became more unapologetic and direct in her criticisms of anti-oppression trainings and diversity & inclusion roles, had me hooked. All I saw around me were folx engaging in this limited understanding of how they relate to theirs, their history and the world and JillisBlack was my outlet for a period of my life.
Not too long after Jill went viral, she started doing tours with the intention of bringing awareness to grassroot organizations that were focused on next steps. How to make intentional steps towards liberation and I happened to meet her in a coffee shop on the east side of Milwaukee. She was with another community member named Arthur and later me and Arthur gained a closer relationship.
Anyways, I fangirl'd over Jill and we set up our own coffee date with Arthur. It was a beautiful experience and I loved her energy. It was my first time meeting someone who had gone viral and used their fame to expose the dark side of organizing and the nonprofit industry. Our linkup brought me so much energy and I think the same day we started working on an event for Jill and my crew to speak at.
At the time, I was organizing with Project Infinity (which I am no longer affiliated with) and my ex/ co-organizer at the time. We had over 50 people we were organiznig ith but our org was too immature to fully grasp the attention that Jill gave us during this event. Held at Compnay Brewing, it was the chance to talk and inspire while Jill followed up with fair reflective questions and intense white privilege criticism with a packed house that made it a victory. Never had I had such an experience as that one.
But back to Jill, I followed her journey and talked to her every once in a while to check in. She is a geuninue person. Not a copy and paste robot that most internet celebs turn into. She challenged her fame and attention. Criticized the actions of any rally, protest or new progressive way of addressing racism or its intersections.
I was gifted this book by Arthur, way after the energy of Project Infinity died down. Way after my partner and I broke up and I hadn't spoken with Jill in over a year. Way after I stopped organizing protests and running myself dry in nonprofits.
Dear white hippiecrites,
You're here because you want me to remember that we're all human beings, living under the rule of a few evil men who love money, and when I focus on race, I'm losing sight of the real enemy......
~~~~ Unfollow me: Essays on Complicity (Pg. 69)
About the Author
bio from website:
"Jill Louise Busby (more affectionately known as jillisblack) is a writer and filmmaker critiquing, imploding, and barrel-laughing at our personal and communal hierarchies; the myth of white fragility (and other words for racism); the endlessly-pending and highly-exclusive revolution, identity, and reaction-based illusions of societal progress; and the boundaries that all place on our lives.
Believing a shift away from anti-difference begins with an outpouring of radical, multi-generational, inclusive, and validating honesty, Jill’s work charms audiences just past their limits of comfort, inviting them to seek a new and more genuine freedom in the discomfort of truth.
Her debut book, Unfollow Me: Essays on Complicity, an intimate, impertinent, and incisive collection about race, progress, and hypocrisy, was released September 7th, 2021 from Bloomsbury Publishing.
It is available now!"
What'd I learned from this book?
This book brought reflection for me. It made me laugh and cry honestly. It made me sit and think about my own complicity and outrage of its existence. I felt a sense of acceptance of myself after finishing it, too. Her last essay hints at the importance of seeing the humanity in others and not allowing the learned defenses of each culture and its beliefs to teach us otherwise. The more we pressure each other to follow this logic that BLM means we can't sit and conversate with someone of 'opposing' beliefs, the more we lose sight of true liberation.
It felt like a truth to name this: true liberation comes from the mind.
My Book Journey Moving Forward
I am planning on reading as many books as I can this year. Books about activism and self-love.
Thank you, Jill, for writing this book. Thank you, Arthur, for giving me this copy and making sure to keep our friendship beautiful.
Peace & Blessing Family, Annia.