Black History is not just a month–it should be talked about and celebrated every day. Through conversation, we can learn more about each other, feel closer to those who matter most, and build community. This February and beyond, Messenger is honored to amplify conversation around Black History and the impact of the Black Community as they push culture forward every day. In the coming weeks, we’ll celebrate the stories of Black voices, artists, and small businesses that make an impact and inspire us all–with the goal of sparking conversation. Not just this February but everyday, we hope to encourage people to talk about stories that inspire them.
Today, we’re excited to tell you more about Benjamin Aragbaye (Benni Ola), a poet, actor, and recording artist who harnessed the power of conversation to connect on a deeper level with his family, and his own Nigerian heritage. Growing up in Los Angeles among a family fluent in the Nigerian language of Yoruba, Ben often felt ostracized by not understanding his native tongue. All that changed when Ben developed a close friendship with his language teacher, Pelumi, on Messenger. Soon, Ben began his journey of learning Yoruba and reconnecting with his Nigerian roots. To this day, Ben and Pelumi remain close, and Ben’s daughter is now following in his footsteps and learning Yoruba from Pelumi.
“I love connecting with my identity, being able to combine every part of me, and reflect that on to my daily life and through my art. Writing and speaking your truth really is so powerful ,” says Ben.
What stories inspire you? Check out these tools on Messenger and Messenger Kids that you can use to spur conversation around community and culture with those closest to you:
- Custom Camera Stickers on Messenger: Starting today on Messenger, we’re releasing custom camera stickers (also available on Instagram), that were developed in collaboration with artist and #BlackDesignVisionaries Impact Grant recipient Jon Key (@jkey13) of Morcos Key (@morcoskey). Key explores Black intersectional identity through four design pillars: Blackness, queerness, southernness and family. His approach resulted in rich illustrations about Black love and Black joy. To access the camera stickers on Messenger, simply open the camera in the Messenger app, take photos or videos, and tap each of the featured stickers at the bottom of your screen.
- Camera Stickers and Photo Frame on Messenger Kids: On Messenger Kids, we’re spotlighting key changemakers from #BlackGirlMagic, #BlackBoyJoy and #BlackHealthMatters movements through limited-edition camera stickers, and encouraging celebration with the “Celebrate Black History Makers” photo frame. To access the artwork, open the camera in Messenger Kids and take a photo. In the top right corner, tap the sticker icon to add stickers, or tap the frame icon for frames.
Be sure to check back into the Messenger newsroom throughout February as we’ll share more stories of people that are creating waves every day across our platform and how you can support them.