By Robin Caldwell
How do you win over 1 million-plus people on Facebook?
Entrepreneur Kumi Rauf has taken a simple phrase not unlike James Brown’s “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” and the 70s soul affirmation “black is beautiful” and created a movement. I Love Being Black is one of the few fan pages on the social network devoted to consistently and unapologetically rallying black people to feel good about who we are.
Rauf says, “With this page, and soon our mobile applications, I want to bring Black people together to start a dialogue on a variety of topics and to show our love for our culture.”
Love for black culture is evident in the empowering messages found in news stories, quotes by notables and questions that challenge our perception(s) of ourselves, such as “Should Hollywood cast another non-black Cleopatra?” I Love Being Black delivers color-affirming messages without politicizing blackness and that is probably the single most key to their ability to attract 1 million followers.
Facebook user Sherri recounts her first impressions of I Love Being Black. The freelance writer says, “When you first see that group suggestion in your requests that says ‘I love being black,’ and you see the ‘confirm’ under it, it’s a no-brainer. It’s not a hard sell. You can’t help but say yes to that simple phrase. ‘Yes, I love being black.’”
Rauf has sold his page’s 1 million and counting fans on a whole lot more than his line of clothing or other items found at his online store. He established the company in 2003 as an outgrowth of racial tension while he was a student at UC Santa Barbara and as a social media platform to encourage positive relations between blacks. For greater accessibility, he is also in the early development stages of creating mobile applications for Android, Blackberry and iPhone users.
Digital media entrepreneur Markus Robinson of Black Web Media believes that I Love Being Black is an example for other marketers to follow. Robinson says, “Rauf has successfully built a community based on a concept and not a product, which is rare. Most people push the product and totally ignore the buyer. In this case, the buyer is King and Queen.”
While there are other similar fan pages on Facebook, none have been as successful as I Love Being Black in attracting a diverse following that seems to be in need of positive representations of blackness.
66 out of Sherri’s 889 Facebook friends share her sentiments and are also fans of I Love Being Black. The avid social media consumer thinks that “in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with negative images of African Americans, I Love Being Black is a safe haven in the midst of turmoil.
“It’s a positive force when I need to recharge my batteries and remember to love my beautiful brown self.”