During this monumental time in history, young people have taken the initiative to contribute to pertinent movements. A major one being the Black Lives Matter Movement; the undercurrent of desire for criminal justice reform has presented itself long before the issue had a name. Protests at the end of May this year served as a catalyst for social change—at the micro and macro level. Recently, I sat down and spoke to Asante (@saintswante on TikTok). She is just 18 years old, a student at UCLA, and is the founder of her own mask company, in which she is donating 25% of her profits to various Black Lives Matter related organizations. In this interview, Asante told me about her motivations, her stances on the proliferation of performative activism on TikTok, and her plans for the future.
Zaray (Interviewer):You are the creator of Legacy Masks and you’ve made it your priority to donate a large chunk of proceeds to Black Lives Matter Organizations. What inspired you to tap into your entrepreneurial side as a means of supporting the movement?
Asante:Before I wanted to start my activism, I had to also think of a way to support myself going into college. In two months, my TikTok blew up and I figured that was a good way to reach out to the people who follow me.
Z:How do you feel about [your store] being sold out? Did you expect any of this?
A:I really didn’t expect people to buy, but then I started to get multiple Depop notifications for mask orders. The positive feedback I was getting was very comforting.
Z:What do you intend to study in college—is it in line with your aptitude for business or activism?
A:I want to study Political Science because I have hopes of becoming a lawyer. It would be a dream to end up on the Supreme Court or own my own law firm. I’m really interested in Minority Justice. With that, I also intend to minor in Africana Studies and Music.
Z:As someone who has a following on TikTok, do you think the platform particularly struggles with performative activism?
A:It’s a big issue, but it’s rather hard to escape. I saw the trendiness appear around Black Lives Matter. People can’t just post about it; they have to give links and do something behind the scenes. Of course, if you don’t have means to donate, you can do your bit by sharing resources.
Z:What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start their own business?
A:I started with little to no direction. I suggest putting your all into it—get friends or family involved. Get your friends and family to publicize. My mom even helped me with advertising.
Asante and others in her vein supply a sense of autonomy when it comes to their activist. The application of social media and creativity has widened spectrum of advocacy and prevails feelings of commitment and empathy—this is something to be applauded.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.