Who do You Wish to Stand For? Avoiding Social Media Landmines

“Beware of Chris Columbus and folk like that…”

This was a directive that I shared with my team when we were discussing branding, social media, and what I want Make A Way Media to stand for. It is a very timely topic and much-needed discussion.

It is indeed a new world and I have to admit that turning over my social media to others has been something I struggled with. I did this in years past and almost immediately a post was shared celebrating Columbus Day. I get it. People forget that I am Italian too. But, does Christopher Columbus really represent the message I want to convey? Team members in the past struggled to understand: how can it be wrong to share a post about a man for whom we have a whole federal holiday?

The fallen Christopher Columbus statue outside the Minnesota State Capitol after a group led by American Indian Movement members tore it down in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 10, 2020, ~source Wikimedia

It leaves me wondering if businesses sometimes blindly share things on social media just to “fill the space” or look like they are active in that space.

Who and what they are sharing doesn’t always make sense. These businesses may be doing more harm than good to their reputation.

Avoiding Social Media Landmines

This belief facilitated an excellent discussion with my team and made me pause and think deeply about who and what I want to support publically on my social media platforms. As my team and I talked, I shared only a few of the issues/people/causes that I would consider “social landmines.” The issue with “landmines” is that they are hard to see- until you step on one and then everyone can see it. Including you, standing there, blown to shreds.

This is an area where I am going to have to hone my intuition and listen to my heart. I don’t intend to live in fear, but I do intend to do my best to portray my integrity, faith, and deepest beliefs in what we share online.

Please keep in mind, before you read any further, that this is 100% my choice for my business. Your views may be completely different, and that’s okay.

As we reviewed images that created to share on Make A Way Media’s social channels, I saw two that raised red flags for me. One was a quote from Woodrow T. Wilson and one was from Thomas Jefferson.

I am not very familiar with the first. I mean- I know that Wilson was a President, but that is all I know. Here’s my point. It used to be cool to quote any President and it is just not anymore.
I advised my team:
We will never quote Woodrow T. Wilson.
We will never quote Thomas Jefferson.
I understand they were Presidents- the pinnacle of leadership in our country. But times have changed, as well they should. Neither of these figures, though they were Presidents reflect values past or present, that I agree with. There are just too many other role models who I can look to and who I can quote to inspire you.
I Googled “Thomas Jefferson controversy”:
The first article that came up said “the Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson” and then a whole slew of stuff about Sally Hemmings and how many of his own children he held as slaves. Okay. That seems obvious enough. I do not want to quote someone with this legacy. This is a personal decision for me and for the company I am building as a safe place in the world for all people.
I Googled “Woodrow T. Wilson controversy”:
The first article that came was an Atlantic article titled “The Racist Legacy of Woodrow Wilson”. Second, in A Vox article, “Woodrow Wilson was extremely racist- even by the standards of his time”.
Here is the question: are we never going to quote a President who served pre-Kennedy? It’s difficult because just like we have a holiday for Columbus, we have high schools named after Woodrow Wilson. I would like to think there is someone in that space we can look to for moral inspiration, but then you have to look at why we need the quote in the first place. In this case, our team was looking to recognize National Friendship Day. We don’t need Woodrow for this when we have friendship quotes from Oprah, Shel Silverstein, and Winnie the Pooh.
In fact, there are hundreds of quotes just about friendship.
Source unknown
I want you to think like this before you add a quote or a message and attribute it to someone on behalf of one of your personal message- especially if you are an entrepreneur like I am. This is all new to me too, but I know my team at Make A Way wants to be inclusive to the max. Anyone who we all cannot be friends with, cannot be a part of our mission or our message.
Simple as that.
Our mission is to call attention to diversity, to open people’s eyes, and to educate. We will strive to continue our message of hope and unity. Diversity is our strength.


About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 15 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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