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Posted under: Opinion

Sam White: At the intersection of Race Avenue and Identity Street

Let’s talk about Sam White, better known as @SamWhiteout, internet phenom. Although he's most known for his Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. shimmy that has looped on monitors and smartphones throughout the nation, White has also gained attention in the realm of social justice, especially at the intersection of race and identity. Just surveying his Instagram, his friends are black, white, yellow and red. Whether he’s clowning with his line brothers, snapping candids with senators, or dancing (on beat) to Caribbean music, Sam has planted himself at the corner of Race Avenue and Identity Street. But White doesn't just do those things for show. Sam has also chosen to work in the areas of allyship and intersectionality through platforms like the Huffington Post Live team. There, Sam works with producers and hosts to put out a wide variety of stories every day, ranging from celebrity interviews to panels on the most current geopolitical issues. “The issues I talk about have been part of who I am for a long time," White said in an interview with Blavity, "Making it only natural for me to extend that passion to my various platforms." For example, Sam helped produce a segment with Marc Lamont Hill and Zerlina Maxwell on allyship in social justice endeavors last month. Race and identity are tough subjects to confront. But the World Wide Web is saturated with mediums that tackle the hard stuff in real time with potential global impact. So for normal people, gaining internet notoriety as it relates to diversification is a tangible deed. Moreover, this reality makes it difficult to maintain blinders in the day and age when “staying woke” is the digital mode of operation. So we Millennials marry internet fame and staying woke at approximately 140 characters at a time — we brand ourselves online. That’s exactly what Sam White has managed to do on a magnified scale. “I try to use my platform as a conduit of information and commentary for issues of social justice, including Black Lives Matter," White said But while White's intentions might be good, he isn't free of certain criticisms that call his motives into question as a white man interested in black culture. According to White, navigating the fine line between cultural appropriation and genuine interest is difficult. “I do not pretend to understand experientially where such understanding is impossible," he said. "Rather, I always make sure to remind myself the ways in which my role as an ally is limited in that capacity. Remaining aware of my privilege is critical to productive and respectful discourse in social justice spaces.” White has created quite the following, and he’s one of many millennials who use social media to demonstrate their affinities toward other cultures. For instance, there's Nyahalay A. Williams (Instagram: @cosmicallycultural), a Sierra Leonean-American Georgetown junior with an affinity toward Asian pop culture, politics and food. Peruse through Emory University’s Kevin McPherson’s timeline (Twitter handle: @scientistkev) and note his involvement in Native American activism and Black Feminism. These media moguls speak to the greater involvement with multinational, intersectional and social justice endeavors. Join them?

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