In many worlds, Jennifer Ruiz is considered a badass boss bitch. She’s the CEO of Baddie B Lashes, has a gazillion followers on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, and is an idolized influencer. Plus, the woman is Latina! How cool, right? We have Ruiz — Jenny69 as people refer to her on social media — representing our community in such a high-profile way. The problem is, Ruiz doesn’t want all the baggage that comes with being an influencer. She doesn’t want to comment on George Floyd, she doesn’t want to get into the Black Lives Matter movement, and she definitely doesn’t want to talk about politics. So why would Ruiz be useful during a historic moment in our country? I suppose just to sell lashes.
The 26-year-old posted a YouTube clip yesterday to inform her fans why she’s been MIA on social media for the past several weeks. Her last post on Instagram was on May 28, while we are all in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown. However, just a couple of days before, video of Floyd’s murder went viral, and an outcry over his brutal killing began to take over. Meanwhile, Ruiz said nothing.
She said in her video that she stayed silent not because she’s against police brutality or didn’t support the cause (she did give $1,000 to an organization supporting BLM) but because she doesn’t want to get into it. She said she finds that when people talk about politics, people get angry. There’s an apparent division, and she doesn’t want any part of it.
Ruiz said she suffers from anxiety and depression and receiving comments such as “why don’t you use your platform to bring awareness to racism and police brutality” doesn’t help her mental health. She’s also raising a child that has autism, and that keeps her busy. We get it. Being a mom and a CEO of a company is a lot to deal with, the last thing anyone in her position would want is to deal with haters who want her to do more.
Is an influencer, known for sexy videos, makeup tutorials, and a lashes company, supposed to about social justice too? Not Ruiz. She said she doesn’t want to be a role model, yet she does want to inspire people. But inspire them to do what?
People on social media said they would be unfollowing her due to her silence and vapid posts.
“Another influencer that isn’t using her platform,” one comment reads. “You’re opinion, which is saying nothing, actually says a lot hun. But it’s totally cool, that’s your right. Just know we see you and all influencers that have been quiet.”
“Can’t believe ppl support you,” another one said. “You only care about yourself.”
While I do appreciate Ruiz saying she wants to educate herself about everything going on right now, staying quiet about where you stand on racism says more about you and your beliefs.
There’s a quote by Desmond Tutu, a South African Anglican cleric and theologian known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, that people have been sharing on social media. He once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
My advice to Ruiz is, yes, get educated about the racism in this country, and how police are killing black men. But also, if social justice or politics is not your thing — don’t fake it. You can ask yourself why these issues don’t matter to you. Have you thought about what it might feel like to be a black mother who lost their child at the hands of the police? It’s called empathy.
Do you truly want a life that is just about making money? That revolves solely on lashes? I’m all about making that dough and building an empire and raising children. The thing is, you can educate yourself, you can listen to others, and you can be the best influencer and still have an opinion about it what is going on around you. And if people don’t agree with your opinion, it’s not the end of the world.