Woman created ‘whistle-blower’ Pinterest account to give voice to the dead



Ifeoma Ozoma Blew the Whistle on Pinterest. Now She Protects Whistle-Blowers. https://t.co/JEb54zqZLm pic.twitter.com/y5VJLfbMnI — StoryCorps (@StoryCorps) May 29, 2019

Ifeoma Ozoma Blew the Whistle on Pinterest. Now She Protects Whistle-Blowers. https://t.co/JEb54zqZLm pic.twitter.com/y5VJLfbMnI — StoryCorps (@StoryCorps) May 29, 2019

Ifeoma Ozoma Blew the Whistle on Pinterest. Now She Protects Whistle-Blowers.

If you happen to come across a number of herself on the social media site Pinterest, you might be tempted to follow her. But don’t.

The portrait is so distracting and overused that Blew — who said the account she created as a memorial for a nephew who died in 2016 was deluged with challenges from other users — simply deleted the pictures of herself altogether and started the account for the “world’s whistlestop poet” instead.

The new account now has a sharp focus.

Using blank type for every single word, she gets lost in the details of death and death from the perspective of the bereaved. Blew died on Sept. 12, 2016, when her 4-year-old nephew Omosi Smith died.

“I went to the hospital and waited … all day and all night,” Blew, a Bethesda mother, wrote on the account. “The doctors keep blaming me.”

Some recent lines on the account:

“The soul of the boy has already left his body.”

“They won’t let us see his casket.”

“I want my son back, they won’t let me do anything.”

Blew’s use of the picture of herself (in one, she’s kneeling on the toilet, in another, she’s posing at the baby’s funeral), however, has prompted a second question: Why does the account exist at all?

Willow Wilson, one of Blew’s friends, first noticed Blew’s memorial Facebook page — which had been deleted after her nephew’s death — on Facebook. That’s when Blew said she remembered how much people would request her email address or social media accounts to reach out about an emotional experience.

“We don’t have anyone,” Blew said she remembers thinking. “If people can ask me for my address or my Facebook, this is an opportunity for me to … grant them the space to do that.”

The social media accounts Blew works on are designed to allow people to reach out about a situation in a private way. Such details are typically the closest her old online friends can get to her — if they want to ask her about a medical situation.

“I just let the spirit guide me how to best manifest that service for somebody else,” Blew said.

Her account allowed her to turn it into something she would call “the world’s whistle-blower,” to give a voice to stories that the public doesn’t always hear. That’s when Blew realized it would be effective to use the same active profile, though much removed from the memorial page.

As she joked with others in the account’s comments — “As journalists we tend to bounce the photos between stories (not interested in having another story about me)” — Blew is growing into the role she set out to set up: an advocacy platform for fellow whistle-blowers who may come across dead bodies.

“My purpose is to give people a channel to speak out and do what I have done: bring awareness to what is going on with something that a lot of people in the world get stuck on,” Blew said.

Blew says she sees the conversations her account started have led to police briefings, Boston Globe articles and other new documents related to the nursing home where her nephew died.

“I am just happy we put a platform in place so there are other people who can breathe life into these peoples’ lives and start the conversation about what’s really going on,” Blew said.

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