Bring The Fire: antiracism and BLM resource brand created by two AU seniors
Students combine their backgrounds to create widely circulated Google Doc and Instagram infographics of resources
On July 11, American University students Edmée Marie Faal and Chloé Ifill both posted an infographic on their Instagram pages with the first slide reading, “The movement has not stopped neither should you!!!!!!!!!!!! Sign these petitions.”
This infographic was just one of many created and posted by Faal, a senior theater performance major, and Ifill, a senior law and society major with a graphic design minor, to spread information and engagement for the Black Lives Matter movement. Collectively, the two posts received over 132,000 likes.
“I think I probably gained close to 1,500 or 2,000 followers maybe from that post alone,” said Faal, who gathers information for the infographics. “I'm not saying anything special. I curated a bunch of petitions. It is important to me, I feel it is something that people need to be paying attention to. But, I don't want to take credit for all of that. Others made those petitions to put out there. They just sadly weren’t garnering attention.”
While their infographics have captivated national and international attention, that post was not their first. Before any infographics were created, Faal first started making Instagram stories with the information she found. When Ahmaud Arbery’s story became national news, Faal said that she deeply felt her pain. She said that she was driven to act, so she began posting information to her Instagram story.
“For me, these topics and these discussions, I've been having them my whole life,” Faal said. “As a Black person, ... to go through a global health pandemic and a racial pandemic at the same time, it feels like everything was almost so out of sorts.”
Around the beginning of the protests in June, after Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd, Faal made a Google Doc with antiracism and BLM resources for mental health, reading, organizing and more.
“It was kind of just my way of trying to do something. I feel like, especially at that time, so many people were looking for answers, but didn't know where to go,” Faal said. “And honestly, as a Black person, a lot of the people in my life started turning to me. I don't have all the answers, and I don't ever want someone to think that I am credible enough just because of my identifiable qualities that I would be able to explain these gigantic concepts.”
After seeing Faal’s Google Doc gain traction, Ifill offered her graphic design services.
“I think a lot of things that are happening now that are being posted, a lot of it is clickbait,” Ifill said. “That's not the goal. It's to get people more intrigued, to want to learn more about it and less to just have people click on it and like it.”
With her graphic design background, Ifill knew how to best present information in the most eye-catching way, and she wanted to put her skills toward this cause.
“I was just so amazed by all the different graphics that were circulating around the world, around the States, around the school and how much of a big impact that can make because, during quarantine, especially, that is how a lot of people get their information and how information is spreading,” Ifill said.
Ifill said that she uses different color combinations to draw interest and simple designs to make the graphic’s message clear.
Ifill’s mom has been one of her biggest inspirations and supporters. Her mom always reminds her to never limit herself as a Black woman.
“I think that, especially in 2020, Black people, as a whole have been realizing that we shouldn't be limited by our surroundings, by the people that surround us, and we can do whatever we set our mind to,” Ifill said. “And, actually that just goes along with the graphics. I would have never thought that it would become this big, but I shouldn't have been limited by the idea that it wouldn't be.”
After posting several infographics and updating the ever-growing Google Doc, Faal decided to start branding the document and infographics under the title “Bring The Fire.”
The idea for Bring The Fire started when Faal was in high school in South Africa. She noted how her school, while branding itself as diverse, rarely looked internally to fix larger problems. After an Islamophobic incident happened on the campus, Faal found herself very involved with the cause and disagreed with how her school’s administration and student body handled it. She decided to start a “community service group” with her friends to address social justice topics called “Bring The Fire,” she said.
“When I hear ‘fire,’ I just have all these associations of passion, or continuation, or fueling yourself to keep going,” Faal said.
After Faal left high school, she said that she regretted not seeing the project through, and while the group continued for some time after her graduation, she doesn’t believe it is running anymore.
Once BLM movements resurfaced, and the issues that occurred at her high school then were still happening in the present, “Bring The Fire’s” return just made sense.
“It just felt like this is exactly what I was trying to do back then,” Faal said. “I felt like we could restart ‘Bring The Fire,’ and we could make it something that wasn't so site-specific, like previously, but something that just encourages people to continue the movement wherever they are.”
That’s Faal and Ifill’s primary goal: to make anti-racism education a sustainable practice for people wherever they may be in the world.
“I think in the most earnest way, I've seen more people try to engage now productively than I have before,” Faal said. “ I do think that finding ways to come together and support each other is going to be the only way that we make this sustainable and long term.”