Over the summer, #BlackTikTokStrike took hold of the popular platform. The hashtag has been viewed more than 6.5m times on the app and has since spread to trending Twitter and Instagram with users quickly joining the movement to help support Black users voice their concerns about prejudiced behavior.
The problem? Black creators say non-Black influencers copy their work and reap the reputational and success spurned from high views, but fail to give credit where it’s due.
Content creators Ziggi Tyler, 23, and Conscious Lee, 30 know about this frustrating issue first hand. Although both were on other social media platforms previously, once they’d joined the seemingly safe community of TikTok users, their respective accounts amassed thousands of followers and clips that boasted views in the millions in less than two years.
Much like Tyler and Lee, formerly unknown individuals quickly catapulted themselves in front of an audience of millions in a short amount of time, like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae Easterling. As the Hollywood Reporter pointed out, in 2019 D’Amelio and Rae rose to fame after dancing to K Camp’s “Lottery (Renegade),” and soon leveraged their popularity into other opportunities. But it wasn’t until months later that the The New York Times helped spotlight Jalaiah Harmon as the original creator of the dance and called attention to how the Black teen didn’t receive any credit. At all.
Unfortunately, Harmon is not alone in experiencing the unfair treatment on the app. Tyler and Lee call out that not only are its users reinforcing microaggressive practices, but the app itself is suppressive to Black users.
That’s why the two have decided to move their talent to other platforms and encourage other content creators to do the same. They sat down to discuss their experience with Essence, and what they’d like to see for the future of social media and its Black Users.
Have you always aspired to be a content creator?
Conscious Lee: I actually began in the college policy debate speaking space. I am an educator and firm believer that education and knowledge are power. Over the years, I’ve also realized that a social media presence offers me the opportunity to engage hundreds of thousands of people at once with short educational messages, so I decided to begin creating accounts and growing my following to further spread knowledge. My social media work has been particularly effective as my reach grows daily and my work is being shared by large public figures and media enterprises like This Is News, Forbes, Democracy Now, BET, and Vice.
Ziggi: I haven’t always aspired to be a content creator but I saw TikTok was up and coming and decided to join to take advantage of the momentum. I never “joined” the internet (gosh that makes me sound like I’m 86) to make money or be famous, but I really wanted to make people feel confident, empowered, and make some folks laugh whenever possible! I have been posting on my youtube channel for the past two years which I really enjoy and I am excited to be able to make more for my channel in the future!