I like to believe that I live a fairly normal life. I have a good family, stable job in finance, and normal hobbies. I am heavily involved in the fitness community and enjoy spending my time exploring the city of Dallas. I watch the news heavily and try to stay as up to date and engaged in what is going on in the world and in our country. I tend to be described as a very opinionated person who is not afraid to share her opinion, no matter who is in the room.
I hopped on the political train on roughly November 5th, 2016. That was the first time I was realized “okay this shit matters and this shit needs to be talked about.” This was when I decided I no longer wanted to stay silent or neutral on political issues.
When you choose to stay neutral, because maybe you think you are uninformed or do not want to step on anyone’s toes, you are actively choosing the side of the oppressor.
The word “influencer” makes me shake my head, but sometimes when you have a strong voice or thought-provoking content (for the better or worse 😉) you get thrown into that “influencer” group. Over the past year, I started to establish my presence on social media around my passions: fitness and wellness. It did not take me long to discover the power that social media holds. I watched my platform slowly grow and realized that the influence I was had was getting stronger and (some) people were actually engaging and listening to the things I had to say.
I watched my influence on social media go from being “that one girl who works out a lot and has good fitness advice” to “that one girl who works out a lot and will preach on social justice until she is out of breath.” People who usually ask me about which fitness studio in the city they should try started asking me about how to get registered to vote in the upcoming 2020 Election.
OKAY – ONTO THE BILLBOARD.
I was driving down the highway in Dallas, Texas, a little over a week before the 2020 Presidential Election when I saw a billboard that said, “Trump Matters. United We Stand, One Nation Under God.” Impulsively, I got the idea to get my own billboard put up. It took me all but three minutes to Google what the cost would be to have my own billboard put up. I knew that this was not going to be an idea that I could just let go. It then dawned on me that I could probably fundraise through social media and get to the money faster.
I got tied up on the legality of being required to register my own Political Action Committee (PAC) to do political fundraising, and having just under two weeks until the Election, it was going to be tight. I decided to reach out to the founder of one of my favorite PACs, Mad Dog PAC, and I asked if he would be able help me make this vision become reality. He was honest and upfront about the tight timeframe we were working with given that the election was approaching. He told me I had 2-3 days max to raise at least $4,000 and I told him that I could raise it “guaranteed”.
I knew that I wanted to have a billboard that shined a light on the Coronavirus and the handling, or lack there of, from the current administration. I wanted to put up a billboard that said, “hey, all of the innocent lives that have been lost to this virus, matter. Lives that we did not have to lose.”
I feel like the blatant negligence of the Trump administration was the first time some of his own supporters opened their eyes to the disturbing reality of how this country was failing to address a pandemic that was killing thousands of people every single day. I wanted to put up a billboard with substance, not just name calling or a swipe at the president.
Luckily, Mad Dog had a design they had used before in other states that they were willing to put up. It was going to be a billboard with the Coronavirus death count and a picture of a Donald Trump with his infamous quote, “it is what it is”.
The quote came from an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan that aired on HBO at the beginning of August. Trump was asked how the virus is under control when 1,000 Americans are dying each day, to which he said: “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is.”
I took to all forms of social media– Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok – to share and promote my idea and to raise money. I posted videos, tweets, and static images sharing the details. In less than 24 hours, I was able to raise all the funds that I needed to make my vision a reality. I had donors from not only all over the country but all over the world. We signed the contract with the advertising company not too long after, and the billboard was officially going to happen.
My billboard went live on the Tuesday before the election and stayed up through the end of the election. We settled on a location that was highly trafficked on I-35 – it could be seen from American Airlines Arena, Northwest Tollway, and I-35 heading north from Dallas. This was to ensure it would catch as many impressions as possible. Because it was a digital billboard, the Coronavirus death count was able to be updated daily.
My hope was that this billboard may catch the attention of someone who was maybe on the fence about voting or who was still undecided. My hope was that this would be a reminder that there was a lot weighing on the outcome of this election.
For me, this was about using my voice for something that was much bigger than a tweet or an Instagram caption. This was about using my platform as an “influencer” and my loud ass voice to speak for people who can no longer speak for themselves.