( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) TikTok Users Stand in Solidarity With Black Creators in Digital Protest
ENSPIRE Contributor: Amitha Bhat
On Tuesday, May 19, creators on the Chinese-owned app TikTok participated in a digital protest to support the African-American community. Lex Scott, the organizer of the protest and founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, states that the purpose is to stop the silencing of black creators on the app.
Users of the app have called out TikTok on multiple occasions for censoring creators of color, primarily black creators. The Guardian reported that TikTok admitted to the censorship of creators that they felt were “susceptible to bullying or harassment.” This outraged many creators and was the main motivating factor for the protest that took place on May 19.
The “Blackout” protest encouraged all TikTok users to change their profile picture to the black power fist, unfollow one creator that is not supporting the movement, comment the hashtags #imblack or #BlackVoicesHeard under every video they see or post, and Follow and Support one new black creator, and only like black creators’ content for the day. This allows for the TikTok algorithm to showcase content from creators that they had been censoring from users of the app.
On May 19, users of the app were able to see many different black creators on their “For You Page.” These creators took the opportunity to speak about issues that have been affecting the black community for a very long time, including police brutality, microaggressions, and racism in general. Some black creators were also able to promote their usual content about makeup, art, technology, music, positivity, social justice, etc. Additionally, they created songs and meaningful videos about their struggles and experiences with racism.
The protest had an extremely positive impact on the black creators of TikTok. Supporters of the movement frequently commented on the phrase “I’m not black, but I see you. I’m not black, but I hear you” on the posts of black TikTokers. TikTok user @doribrix posted an emotional video in response to these comments, saying “We love you.” Another TikTok user, @krisbaby22 passionately responded to overwhelming positivity by explaining that “I don’t think you guys realize like the impact that this day has…I have been bullied for my skin color for so long and it just makes my heart so happy.”
The digital protest that took place on May 19 gave black voices on TikTok a platform that they were denied for so long. People were able to come together to collectively improve the environment and culture surrounding this app. Hopefully this carries on into the future, allowing newer black creators to enter an app where they matter.