The “I’m Black” movement takes over TikTok
TikTok is erasing black creators, and here’s what the community is doing about it
May 20, 2020
On May 19, TikTok creators rallied to show their support in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Both black creators and allies changed their profile pictures to a black fist to show their support. The rules for the movement are as follows:
1.) Change your profile picture to the black fist.
2.) Only like black creators posts for the day.
3.) Unfollow anyone who does not support the movement or at least 1 person that doesn’t have their profile as the black fist.
In today’s society, changing one’s profile picture can be a powerful thing. It is a simple and easy way to generate mass awareness to a cause.
The black fist specifically represents the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter is a member-led global network whose mission is to “build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities.”
Though this movement is not new, recent events have triggered the community to appear more in media. One of the most notable events being the murder of Ahmad Arbury, who was chased and killed by two white men (father and son) who saw him jogging down the street. The community has pushed for justice for Ahmad since learning that his killers would not be convicted.
The movement on TikTok is to bring awareness to black erasure in media and on the app. It is a sub-branch of the Black Lives Matter movement called the “I’m Black” movement. The TikTok algorithm tends to push creators of color (primarily black creators) off the For You Page – the part of the app where viewers go to find new content.
TikTok creator @tokin808 spoke on the purpose and significance of this day. “I’ve watched certain videos of mine seem like they’re about to go viral [before] they all seem to level off at the same spot… I’ve seen white creators who post kind of similar content to me grow exponentially when the only difference is our skin tones,” Anthoni (@tokin808) said.
“But the thing I think hurts the most,” Anthoni continued. “is I’ve seen content that is nothing but hate, bigotry, pure just racism…go up, stay up, and not get taken down. But when we [the black community] uplift our own, we’ve violated guidelines.”
Creator @lewwni also created a video addressing this subject, referring to the popularity of roller skating that’s surfaced.
“When I downloaded this app in October of 2019, I remember seeing a rollerskating video on my For You Page; it was of three black guys, they had a nice routine. I checked out their page, and he had a lot of roller skating videos,” she said. “From then on I sought out a lot of videos like that, and it was typically black men… yet those never took off. It took white women, doing the same thing, for it to get traction on this app.”
Many people, not just black creators, are also using this movement as an opportunity to post videos showcasing the violent truth that lies within American communities. These videos are often paired with Childish Gambino’s song “This Is America.”
These videos display news articles and images of the violence and injustice people of color face every day in our nation.
Some white creators have spoken out against the protest, claiming not everything is about race, and that the people of this movement are inventing issues that aren’t truly there.
“This is about a company who publicly decided not to show our content because of the color of our skin,” One person said in response.
The flood of black creators on the For You Page today show’s that the reason for a predominantly white For You Page isn’t due to the lack of black creators in the app, but because TikTok is censoring them.