Trish Ahjel Roberts
9 min readSep 19, 2023


Photo: Shingi Rice from

Is Facebook Racist?

By Trish Ahjel Roberts

I posted an ad on Facebook a couple of months ago that was targeted to Black women. A white woman jumped into my comments to tell me I was racist. It was remarkable and unremarkable at the same time. Reverse racism isn’t a real thing, but she didn’t know that. I am a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) speaker and trainer. My first thought was to educate the woman, and I tried but it was a waste of time. Her goal wasn’t to learn. Our exchange made that clear. There is virtually no education on race and racism in the United States, a country that was built on those very concepts. We need that education desperately. Our very survival as a nation is at risk.

So fast forward to last week. After building a relationship over the course of nearly two years, I finally interviewed New York Times bestselling author, Resmaa Menakem, for my Mind-Blowing Happiness™ Podcast. You see, I’m not just a DEI speaker, I’m a transformational coach, soul-healing retreat leader, and the author of a bestselling book called 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness with a podcast and brand that bears the same name. Resmaa is a trauma specialist and healer best known for his brilliant book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. I became a huge fan of Resmaa’s work since being introduced to his book in a yoga teacher training program back in 2020. He’s been interviewed by Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Charlamagne tha God, so he’s kind of a big deal. And, it’s not every day that I get to interview a wildly successful author, antiracism thought leader, and somatic healer, so I was thrilled.

Our alignment became clear during our podcast episode when he and I realized we both ran away from home as toddlers. He said we are “wanderers!” I couldn’t be more honored to share that title with him. I believe that if you pay attention, you will recognize the thread of personality in your life. You might be a rule-breaker, free-thinker, artist, or problem-solver. You might be a good listener, observer, and team player. Well, Resmaa is the only person I’ve ever met who told me he ran away from home as a two-year-old. I did it with a diaper and a chicken leg and was found two blocks away from my childhood home in Brooklyn, NY. Resmaa left with combat boots and a jacket and was found at the local library.

We both teach and speak professionally on the topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Resmaa’s approach focuses on somatic abolitionism, an embodied antiracist and culture-building practice. He focuses on the idea of a return to the wisdom of human bodies respecting and honoring other human bodies. What could be more loving and beautiful than that? It’s only a problem if you do not see other people as human beings worthy of love and respect.

In my work, I focus on the intersection between diversity, confidence, and happiness, and use that to help individuals break past barriers to experience the deep fulfillment, joy, and purpose we all long for. My approach focuses on my 12-step path to Mind-Blowing Happiness™ that begins with healing, spirituality, connection, self-love, peacefulness, and generosity, and continues to more ethereal lessons like detachment, surrender, patience, compassion, passion, and freedom. My lessons are rooted in Buddhist and yogic philosophies, coaching techniques, and my personal experiences of overcoming childhood trauma, surviving domestic violence, recovering from 9/11, and rising beyond institutional racism.

It was the perfect conversation between two experienced healers, so what could go wrong?

The first answer is nothing. We had a beautiful, hour-long conversation full of aha! moments, insights, reflections, and moments of laughter. I was so excited after we livestreamed on YouTube, that I stayed up until 4 a.m. editing the audio so the podcast could drop to Apple Podcasts the next day. (That’s the kind of thing you do when you are an entrepreneur wearing many hats — I am the tech department.) The next day, I created a minute-long video with a sound clip from one of my favorite parts of the episode and posted it to my Instagram account. So far, no issues.

This is a quote from Resmaa Menakem from the 1-minute clip, “The way you are able to get to a place where you say you’re not going to circle for another 5 years is you had to do the circling.” We were talking about going through the fire,” walking through discomfort to get to the other side of a situation. The healed side. The growth side. The understanding side. I pointed out that we may avoid pain so much that we keep circling instead of going through what we need to go through. That’s when Resmaa made the very valid point that sometimes we need to circle for a while to prepare ourselves. Aha! True dat.

After about 24 hours, I checked the post. A whopping 3 clicks. No problem. I can’t figure out the Instagram algorithm and I had no plans to try. I would simply “boost” the post so more people on Instagram and Facebook could see it and gain access to this illuminating conversation with two powerhouse thought leaders and healers. If you’ve never done it, a “boost” allows you to pay for the distribution of your post — it basically turns your social media post into a paid ad. You give Meta a few dollars and they will make sure more people see your post. It’s part of the brilliance of the platform. Easy peasy.

Then I got a notice. Meta rejected my “ad” because they have a policy that states they don’t support “ads about social issues, elections, or politics.”

To be a Black person in America is to be a walking, breathing, “social issue,” and Meta’s got me muted.

I’m not new to this. I’ve been rejected by Meta many times. Every time I try to promote an event for Black people, it’s an automatic “no.” I’ve learned that sometimes I can get my content through if I use euphemisms like “melanated,” “of the African Diaspora,” or “BIPOC.” But why is it such a problem for me to reach out to my community? Black is more than a race or a color, it’s a culture of shared experiences and heritage. I can reach out to “women” all day long, but as soon as I try to connect with an audience that I identify with culturally, it’s a problem. If I say African, Irish, Chinese, Caribbean, or Italian, it might get past the Facebook gatekeepers. But, for Black America, there is no homeland to call on. Black Culture was created in the United States.

I wasn’t happy, but I’ve been here before. I know the initial review is just their system picking up words like “woke” or “antiracism.” Surely if a real person reviewed it, they would realize this is a loving, meaningful conversation. At the end of the 1-minute clip, Resmaa said “As Black bodies, we have to be gentler with ourselves.” I don’t think it could have been much sweeter than that.

I wasn’t concerned at all. I asked for a manual review, certain that if a real human looked at my post, they would approve it right away.

It was rejected again.

The second rejection means a flesh-and-blood Meta employee looked at my intelligent, loving, 1-minute video clip for my podcast and decided it was unacceptable. I can only wonder if they were wearing a MAGA hat or keeping one in their closet.

Welp, I can’t beat City Hall, right? It’s a classic case of David and Goliath. I changed my post or “ad creative” (since that’s what Meta says is “non-compliant.”) Instead of calling my episode, “Does Being Woke Still Matter?” I changed it to “Does Being Awakened Still Matter?” (Insert eye roll.) During the 1-minute clip, Resmaa referred to “Black bodies” so I changed it to “Blaq bodies.” (Another eye roll.)

I resubmitted it. What could they possibly find wrong with being awakened?

Apparently, everything. I was immediately rejected for the 3rd time.

I train groups about the impact of unconscious bias among individuals, in organizations, and particularly in technology. This is a perfect example of either unconscious or very conscious bias. Either way, Meta should know better. Banning “social issues” effectively bans people of color from speaking to and for their communities. It bans this specific Black girl from Brooklyn from using the Meta platform to improve the world one person at a time.

So, to answer the question, is Facebook racist? The answer is yes, and I’ll tell you why. Racism shows up in 4 major ways:

First in ideology — the belief that one group is better than another and has the right to control the other group. In the United States, this shows up as “white supremacy.” This concept was created in the 1600s by wealthy, white Virginia landowners to “divide and conquer.” By making poor white people feel superior, they were able to convince them to vote against their own best interests. We still see this today. Poor Americans will vote against universal healthcare and free college if they believe someone who “doesn’t deserve it” will also benefit.

Next is institutional — when racist ideologies become embedded in our institutions. This impacts business, government, education, housing, media, politics, and every imaginable corner of this country. This is where companies like Meta and others must work to counter decades of racism in their hearts, minds, and organizations. The thing is, they can’t do it if they can’t see it. They also can’t do it if they don’t care enough to bother.

The 3rd way is interpersonal — when racist belief systems graduate to acts of disrespect, microaggressions, mistreatment, threats, or violence against the targeted race. This can run the gamut from very subtle to obvious and outrageous.

Last, and perhaps the most troubling is internalized — when members of oppressed and marginalized communities are so indoctrinated into the overarching structures of racism that they believe the lies about them. They may think they aren’t smart, worthy, beautiful, or deserving. And, much like the white people who act against their own self-interest because they believe they are superior, Black people may do the same because they have been taught to hate their bodies, their history, and themselves.

Based on my own experience and industry data, Facebook clearly has a problem. According to 2022 data from Statista, less than 5% of Facebook employees are Black despite the fact that African Americans make up more than 12% of the U.S. population. And, according to 2021 Pew Research, 74% of Black people use Facebook, that’s more than the usage level for white or Hispanic groups.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the title of this article. Was it too provocative? Would Meta ban me forever? I realize there’s no point in having Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform if I can’t use my voice to share my experiences, educate others, and speak my truth.

Being a Black woman in America is like dancing in a minefield.

I love people, I always have, but I’ve come to realize some people don’t love me as soon as they see my beautiful, smiling face. I am waiting for all the “good” people to wrestle this country back from the racist structure that divides us. I fear that we will go the way of Germany during the Third Reich — lots of “nice,” quiet people will sit back and watch their neighbors get silenced, robbed, terrorized, and murdered.

Too often “nice” people are more triggered by the word “racist” than they are by the systemic oppression and racism that destroys the hearts, minds, and souls of real-life human beings every day. Facebook needs to do better to amplify the voices of intelligent, talented, passionate Black entrepreneurs like me and others. If Facebook or anyone else doesn’t want to be called racist, they must do the work to start unraveling decades of racist conditioning. Need a place to start? Listen to the latest episode of the Mind-Blowing Happiness™ Podcast with Resmaa Menakem HERE.

Trish Ahjel Roberts is the Founder and CEO of the Mind-Blowing Happiness™ coaching company and the Black Vegan Life™ event brand. She is a transformational coach, bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and soul-healing retreat leader. She speaks and teaches on the topics of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Confidence, and Happiness. Learn more at and follow @TrishAhjelRoberts. For speaking inquiries, email



Trish Ahjel Roberts

I am a transformational coach, DEI educator, soul-healing retreat leader, and bestselling author of 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness.