If you’ve been looking to diversify your Subscription box a little on YouTube (and if not, you probably should), then it’s worth keeping an eye on the people involved in YouTube’s new ongoing campaign, #YouTubeBlack. Following a huge summit in March, in which dozens of YouTube’s biggest and best black creators descended upon New York’s YouTube Space for a weekend of panels, discussion and #content, another evening of discussion was held this week.
Vlogger TPindell and beauty and lifestyle YouTubers Whitney White and Tiarra Monet spoke on a panel in New York, about their experiences as not just YouTube creators, but as a minority on a platform and in an industry where opportunities and representation are systematically stacked against them. Here’s just a few points we have picked up from the discussion:
Diversity amongst black creators is okay.
With so much stigma surrounding POC style and beauty – especially natural hair – black beauty/lifestyle-based creators have found themselves facing more pressure to keep up appearances as their audiences have grown. Whitney White, whose channel ‘Naptural85’ has had a focus on natural hair since she launched it in 2009, told the audience she believes that black women “can all look different, we can all be different, we don’t have to all ‘slay.’”
“We can be goofy, we can be nerdy, geeky, we can be whatever we want to be — and it’s amazing.”
#YouTubeBlack has inspired a shift in media representation.
As under-represented as black creators have been until this point on the platform (and across all media in general), the creators on the panel believe that their content and growing influence has contributed to a culture shift in the business opportunities opened up to them. Whitney admitted that the beauty industry has diversified massively since black women have been gaining more and more influence online.
“Now we have our products, now we have our commercials, now we have our magazine spreads, now we have campaigns, and now we have products galore,” she revealed on the panel.
The pressure to speak on social issues is real.
With a lot of racial tension taking place in the US right now, influential black creators have found that the expectation for them to use their platform to address every issue can be quite taxing – and with their livelihood at stake based on their content, maintaining that balance can be a struggle.
“My job is to be a blogger and to show you this lipstick — not that I’m not aware and I don’t know what’s going on and I’m not hurting,” admitted Tiarra Monet. “Just because someone doesn’t hashtag or post a picture on Instagram, doesn’t mean we’re not affected.”
With the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile fresh in people’s minds, Tpindell noted the pressure mounting on him to contribute, despite the emotional weight of such a topic. “I’m at a point where viewers will be like ‘T, why don’t you do a video and tell us how you feel about this?’” he admits. “I’m like, I’m not going to be able to get through that video. I can’t do it.”
With #YouTubeBlack becoming an ongoing campaign instead of a singular event, we’re excited to learn a lot more about the future of race and representation on both the site, and across the greater online sphere in general. If you’d like to find a few more black creators like Tpindell, Tiarra and Whitney to expand your own scope a little, we strongly recommend this inspiring video released by YouTube at the end of this year’s Black History Month.