Audrey Fernandez, a senior at Stony Brook University, developed a website and social media platform called The Rewriting to bring attention to the struggles and joys of the Black community and to boost Black creators and innovators.
“One good side of social media is it helps us inform one another of everything that’s going on in this world,” Fernandez said. “Just for my audience to learn about stories from the Black community initiates progress.”
Fernandez, a biology major and African studies minor, has been cultivating an online presence with her website and Instagram page since June 4, 2020. Her mission is to provide resources for voicing opinions on social issues to government officials. She also promotes Black-owned businesses and other educational resources like reading lists.
“My platform does provide the knowledge about events through history that we’re not taught about enough, or about historical figures we’re not taught about enough that have contributed greatly,” Fernandez said.
Unlike mainstream news, this interpersonal connection allows for a meaningful touch that students could relate to and connect with.
“An athlete I talked to in 2020 had a really good reaction when I first opened the page because it made him feel like he wasn’t alone,” Fernandez said. “A lot of people were re-sharing my posts online, and it got to the point where it wasn’t just Stony Brook students, it was even kids from other schools.”
Using social platforms is one of the ways many young activists have sought to spread awareness of social justice movements. Fernandez began the project in 2020, when activists stood up against the murder of George Floyd, which sparked more involvement for shaping social change.
As the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement gained momentum, it occurred to Fernandez that she could try to cultivate a platform to create a conversation.
In the process of launching the page, Fernandez reached out to students from different grade levels and interests, asking them to voice what being a Black student means to them.
Fernandez found inspiration to be a BLM activist by learning more about her own identity. Immigrating at the age of eight from the Dominican Republic, Fernandez expressed the differences she felt about being Black in the D.R. from what she experienced in the United States, which led her into exploring black culture and how to share it.
Fernandez has reached college students who may struggle with finding themselves and have suffered from oppression, especially focusing on “what it means to be black and brown in predominantly white institutions at least for the most part, and those struggles that come with it.”
However, Fernandez’s target audience is not just the Black community; she aims to enlighten people from all backgrounds.
“For allies I had books, shows you could watch, artists you could listen to,” Fernandez said. “Because I feel like sometimes the statistics are not the only way that you know how other communities are suffering, it’s also through stories.”
The college transition as a first-generation student of color can be a difficult situation to adapt to. Fernandez explained that her experience growing up in a low-income community and the adjustment to college life motivated her to share her story on the platform. She hopes it will help other students feel less alone.
“When I came to college I struggled with adapting,” Fernandez said. “I’m sure that’s something that a lot of people [experience], not just Black, but I feel [it’s something] a lot of people of color that come from low-income communities share.”
One of Fernandez’s goals is also to highlight the joys and influence of Black culture in modern society. There are several fashion trends, music, dances and other cultural activities that are popular today that originate from Black culture. Pop culture heavily influences Gen Z, especially artists and influencers that can resonate with and drive activism.
“One of my favorite artists, for example, is Kendrick Lamar because he tells his story through his music, and it helps the listener have empathy for our community and all the struggles we go through,” Fernandez said.
In her recently launched Juneteenth project, Fernandez had Black creators speak on their work.
“For Juneteenth, I just wanted to further embrace Black creativity and why black culture has been influential,” Fernandez said. “I feel like everything we know- it surrounds black culture, we just don’t realize that. Recently, I got in touch with a stylist, Asia Irving, and I’ve been trying to push for her to write something for my page about what it means to be a Black creator.”
She wants to utilize The Rewriting to draw attention to other social topics.
“I put out resources for the Black LGBTQ community because I know that it needs more attention, and unfortunately in certain families, that is not the most accepted thing,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez looks forward to using the platform to influence others to become activists and have them carry with them the cultural knowledge of Black history.
“My future goal would be just to help people learn and have them influence the next generations.”