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Harvard associate professor to take over Selena Gomez’s Instagram for a day

Sarah Lewis is one of the Black thinkers who will control Gomez’s account, offering insights on ‘How to see in a racial crisis’

Sarah Lewis, a Harvard professor, will control Selena Gomez's Instagram on Monday. (Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)
Sarah Lewis, a Harvard professor, will control Selena Gomez's Instagram on Monday. (Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Sarah Lewis, a powerhouse intellectual and associate professor at Harvard University, will take over one of the world’s most followed Instagram accounts, @selenagomez, on Monday. To the singer’s 179 million followers, Lewis will offer a public class, “How to see in a racial crisis,” which is based on her Harvard “Vision and Justice” course.

Her course has already taken many forms: as the theme of the quarterly photography journal, Aperture, the title of an art exhibition Lewis curated, and later a full-length class for students.

Lewis is one of many Black thinkers, creatives, and activists scheduled to control Gomez’s profile. Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza kicked off the takeovers on Friday, followed by New Yorker journalist Jelani Cobb. Additional participants include lawyer Kimberle Crenshaw, rapper Killer Mike, activist Brittany Packnett-Cunningham, and author Imbram X. Kendi, who will soon join the faculty of BU’s new Antiracist Research Center.

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Jeneé Osterheldt, Sarah Lewis and the intersection of vision and justice
The Globe's Jeneé Osterheldt talks representation and image with Sarah Lewis ahead of "Vision & Justice." (Video: Caitlin Healy/Globe Staff, Shelby Lum/Globe Staff, Photo: Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)

Representatives for Gomez said the takeovers are a way for the celebrity to use her platform for good. Her massive following is topped only by a few other household names: soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo and pop star Ariana Grande, for example.

“Selena wanted to figure out the best way she could utilize her huge platform in a constructive way," Gomez’s representatives wrote in an e-mail to the Globe. “Ultimately, she decided giving her Instagram over to Black voices would be an approach that could be educational to her as well as her audience which consists of all demos and backgrounds. Listening and having the sometimes uncomfortable conversations in order to affect change is her ultimate goal.”

Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_.