Why Everyone's Talking About The 'Black Girls In Trader Joe's' Instagram Account

This story starts on May 14, 2020, when Mercedes Davis and Lauren Light (who is no longer involved in the project) began the Instagram page, Black Girls in Trader Joe's (via Today). "Yes, this is for you, Sis. We are #BlackGirlsInTraderJoes! Showing you our latest finds, staples & recipes!" they wrote. After garnering 1,000 followers the first day, hey had 10,000 in just 24 hours. By late August, over 105,000 Instagrammers followed the page, dedicated to sharing beautifully framed pictures of Trade Joe's products and the mouthwatering dishes (sometimes accompanied by cooking demos) that can be made with them. Seafood risotto with crispy shallots, anyone?  Or maybe you'd prefer a grilled peach salad made with romaine and arugula, sunflower seeds, red onions, tomatoes, egg, bacon, mozzarella, and herbs? 

The success of the page has as much to do with inclusion as it does with the edible eye-candy on display. As Davis explained to Today, before she co-founded the virtual space, "There were no Black or brown hands showing the [Trader Joe's] products." And even though she followed and actively tagged other Trader Joe's fan pages on Instagram, she wasn't getting any recognition. "You know your food looked good and the photo was of quality," Davis told Vice"It checked all the boxes that you'd want in a post." Despite this, her voice, and other black voices, were conspicuously absent from the platforms. 

Why Black Girls at Trader Joe's is more than just an instagram page

The underlying idea is that when a store is represented in online communities by almost exclusively white voices, you create the illusion, intentionally or not, that its products are exclusively for white consumers. Davis is forcefully challenging that construct by, in her words, "creating a safe space for Black women creatives." That space not only to celebrates good food but also the three-dimensional lives of the black women cooking it. "Do you have a dope a*s Black woman in your circle?! As women, we wear many hats and most of them all at once! Tag those women below & tell them why you think they're dope!" Davis writes in one post. 

Davis also uses her page to speak out about racial injustices. Following the police shooting of George Floyd, Black Girls in Trader Joe's penned a letter urging Trader Joe's to actively support the Black Lives Matter movement: "Why are you silent about a critical issue that impacts not just a large portion of your consumer base, but all of us? How are you participating in the fight for racial justice?" Trader Joe's never responded directly to Davis, but as she pointed out to Vice, in June it issued a statement in "support of [their] black crew members and customers."  That same month, it posted job openings for Diversity and Inclusion Managers to ensure a more inclusive workplace and "[remove] bias in the hiring process" (via Lensa).