I’m black. I’m a YouTuber. I was literally floored by the utter lack of articles regarding race and YouTube. There are huge dissertations and books written about how representation matters, especially in the media, and somehow YouTube just hasn’t come under the same scrutiny. While I have my own opinions about it, I decided to interview some YouTubers I admire who have different roles on the platform, and I think this piece is the most in-depth anyone has ever looked at what we promote when we promote only one kind of YouTuber.
I want to bust the issue wide open.
One of my favorite quotes in the piece was from a friend who wished to remain anonymous due to the fact that her YouTube and work lives are separate. Her job is figuring out ways to make traditionally white spaces more inclusive. She said,
“Diversity isn’t just opening the doors to all people, it’s going out into historically underserved, oppressed, and disadvantaged communities and saying ‘This space is for you, too.’”
While visiting New York with my family, an Elvis impersonator approached us asking if we wanted to take a picture. I politely responded “we’re good, thank you.” He then said “is it because you don’t like Americans?” Taken aback, I jokingly responded “but we are American.” He looked at me with a straight face and said “No. You don’t look American,” and walked away.
This is why my YouTube campaign is so important.
I said it during my Streamys acceptance speech and I’ll say it again, “huge shout outs to @google and @youtube for not being scared to put a brown girl on a billboard.” During my short time in this industry, I’ve always felt that I’ve been at a natural disadvantage. Not only am I female but my skin is brown and those characteristics don’t always make up the ‘“ideal” candidate.
But things are changing and will continue to change. Years from now no one will look at a billboard featuring a woman of colour and think it’s odd. They will think it’s just another billboard featuring someone awesome. I’m so happy that my campaign can serve as one of many stepping stones towards an inevitable time of equality.
Thank you for being progressive and putting not only my face on huge buildings, but my very visibly Indian parent characters as well. Thank you for leading by example and acknowledging that people will relate to my content regardless of their skin colour. Thank you for not defining me by my ethnicity and rather investing into my unique abilities so fearlessly.
I always tell myself that the best way I can fight racism is by being successful. Thank you for helping me with that goal. I have much further to go but billboards, murals on buildings, branded buses and bus shelters, and ads in Times Square make up a pretty damn good start.
I look forward to breaking more barriers with you. Keep them coming and I’ll keep stretching.