JordanWaynes, creator of Magically Melinated. (Photo credit: Jordan Waynes)

Jordan Waynes is an educator during the daytime, but it doesn’t stop at night. Beyond her students, she logs on Instagram as @magicallymelinated_ to hold public discourse about issues affecting the Black community, specifically in Philadelphia.

The 25-year-old blogger is a Germantown native who has attended many schools, including Emlen Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School, and Germantown High School (GHS), before graduating from Martin Luther King Jr. High School (MLK HS) after GHS’s closure. While she didn’t finish college on her first go-round, she is scheduled to attend this winter 2023 semester, where she’ll start her next steps in obtaining an education degree. She hopes to use that to become an African-American history teacher, just like Mr. Jiminez, her biggest inspiration during her time at GHS.

Waynes is now the creator and curator of the online thought space with almost 25,000 followers. While it originally started as a way to engage youth about gun violence, it transformed into a blog about various issues involving Black folks in Philadelphia, like, rape culture, womanist theory, and LGBTQ+ topics, when more people began to join her audience.

For Social Media Day, I spoke with the local content creator about Magically Melanated on behalf of Germantown Info Hub.

This interview was edited for clarity.

Rasheed Ajamu: Let’s start with the basics. What’s your favorite thing about Germantown?

Jordan Waynes: I’m going to say the community. On my way to the corner store, I see a million people I went to school with, from elementary to middle to high school. We mostly all still live here between this section of Germantown. What people would say is Brickyard.  Most of us still live here. So I love that part of Germantown. That’s my favorite part. The fact that the people I grew up with are still around me. That’s still my community, right? In one way or another, that’s still my community. Whether it be them or their family members, now they have kids. So it’s like, as a kid, we’re watching adults move around Germantown. Now we’re the adults moving around Germantown.

RA: You have almost 25K followers, so I’m going to ask you a question I grapple with as someone who also has a large following: do you consider yourself an influencer?

JW: That’s interesting because yes and no. Yes, in a sense of, I want to spark minds. I want people to read what I’m saying, take it, and run to the internet and Google and be like, “Oh, this is amazing. I’m learning so much.” But in the same sense, I don’t want to necessarily influence people because I don’t want people to believe anything I say. I don’t want you to believe a thing. I want you to read it and take it to Google. 

Go do some research behind it because I don’t want to be the one to influence anything. I want you to influence yourselves. I want the knowledge to spark something in you rather than influence you. 

RA: What is Magically Melanated, in your words? Did it start as what it is, or has it evolved?

JW: Magically Melanated is a blog I came up with several years ago because I was trying to tackle gun violence in Philadelphia. But I didn’t necessarily have a way to do it. And I wanted to get to the youth. And I figured the youth is all on social media, so why not just create an Instagram page? Now it’s not necessarily just the youth, but it is a large portion of the followers. 

So it’s just a blog about things going on in the Black community, things that have happened, things that I think people should know, and things that are going on now. And lately, I just been really tackling trying to change the minds of adults [about] the youth. Because, especially in Philadelphia right now, people are so hard on these kids. 

“They’re monsters,” and “statistically, they are the ones doing the killing,” and stuff like that. But I just think that there’s a boiling pot in Philadelphia that most people don’t want to look at when it comes to these children and why they act the way they act. So lately, that’s what I’ve been working on, just tackling the different things that are boiling in the pot for these children.

RA: How do you curate your posts on any given day or moment? How do you plan? 

JW: It’s hard to plan, especially when talking about gun violence because people are grieving. I just make sure I go about it in a tasteful way, as if this was my family member. So sometimes, I won’t take on stories that I know are personal. If I know that there’s a specific shooter that killed a particular person, what I’ll do is break it down. 

An example: a kid died in Philadelphia on his way to school, and instead of talking about their specific situation, I blew it up into something bigger, talking about how this year has been the deadliest school year for the Philadelphia School District from kindergarten to 12th grade.

At the end of the day, these are children – 13, 14, and 15-year-old children. A lot of times, I watch what I post so I don’t offend either side, the wrong or right. And like I said, most times when I post anything, because it’s not always gun violence when I post anything, it just has to speak to me at the moment. If it speaks to me at the moment, it’ll speak to them at the moment. So I just go off of what I feel. 

RA: I was actually going to ask about that, too. I know there are other things that you post about, like rape culture and LGBTQ+ issues. Why is that also important for you to bring those things to the forefront?

JW: Our biggest issue when it comes to things is community. We have to rebuild a community. But to me, as a Black person, the community is one for all. We don’t judge anybody. We don’t exile anybody. We don’t push away other groups of people. 

Such things like rape culture shouldn’t be accepted in a community. Misogyny isn’t something I think should be a part of a community where I want to be a part. Homophobia and transphobia, too. These things should not be allowed in communities because that’s not what we need. We need to come together despite our different backgrounds, who we want to be, and who we are, despite all the societal norms that really don’t even apply to us as Black people.

RA: What is the most challenging part of managing a social account with a large following?

JW: Making time for yourself. A lot of times, I’m so focused on what can I do today. Or what if I don’t post anything for a couple of days? Or what if something goes on? I’m not talking about it, but it’s like, I have to take a break. One: for my mental health because that is taxing talking about oppression.

Whether it be men oppressing women or the government oppressing us, whatever it is, it’s oppression, and it is very depressing. So you have to take breaks. And I think a lot of times that’s when I struggle with it because I feel guilty a little bit, like, oh, something’s going on, and I’m not speaking about it. What if somebody is waiting for me to speak about it?

RA: What’s something people don’t know about the work of being an influencer or someone with a large following?

JW: It’s very time-consuming, as we touched on earlier. Especially when most people think people just make money off social media like it’s an influx of money just coming in. [People believe] every time we post, we get 200 dollars. I don’t know why they think that, but it’s really not true. We have nine-to-five’s, so I work from eight to four. I have to get up by seven. I don’t get off at four. 

There’s times when I get off at 7 p.m. because there are still kids after school, because parents haven’t picked them up, or the school bus hasn’t picked them up. So I’m at work until 7 p.m. sometimes every day. Who has time to post on social media? And people will hound you down like some people say, “Hey, can you post this for me? Can you post this for me?” And it’s like babe, I need a break. Some of us don’t get paid. We simply do it out of our love and passion for our people.

That’s something people misconstrue.

RA: And my last question, Jordan, is if you were given any opportunities from social media to be able to do, what would it be?

JW: My biggest thing right now, if I can get any moment from social media, is something I could gain. I want to talk to who’s in charge. At this point, in Philadelphia, I want to talk to who’s in charge. I need a meeting with the big guys. I mean, like governor-type stuff. I need a meeting because it’s just so many factors. 

If we want Philadelphia to thrive, or we don’t want it to burn into flames within the next year, we really need to have a full-blown meeting, and we need it now. That would be my biggest goal, like, really implementing change, trying to implement change, or speaking on behalf of the people because we often don’t get the chance to speak on behalf of the people. People get spoken for, spoken to, we get spoken to, we don’t get to speak up.