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Black History Month and TikTok
Black History Month is a time to learn about Black history, acknowledge Black contributions, and celebrate Black achievements. This year, it’s more important than ever. Millions joined protests in the US and UK after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police. Large corporations, small startups and individuals who hadn’t engaged politically before, stood up for the first time to call out systemic racism and anti-blackness in society.
Gen Z and social activism
TikTok has played a huge role in supporting Black History Month, partially thanks to its the Gen Z demographic living on the platform. 85% of its audience is under 34, making the network home to a younger audience. Gen Z are not only the most ethnically diverse generation to date, they’re also politically savvy. Lots of young people, including the LGBTQ+ community, view TikTok not just as the funny dance app, but as an online ‘safe space’ for self-expression.
So, it makes sense for TikTok to become the hub for online activism, political education, as well as much-needed comic relief during Black History Month. This year alone we’ve seen TikTok teens successfully protest a Trump rally, support Black Lives Matter by highlighting peaceful protests and even provide education on anti-racism allyship through clever short videos.
Let’s see how TikTok celebrated Black History Month.
Hashtag Activism: #BlackHistoryMonth
The #BlackHistoryMonth hashtag boasts 248.7M views, containing everything from educational series on Black History, to haircare and mental health discussions. TikTok itself ran a series of live sessions for Black History Month, including topics like Black Mental Health and adequate representation across industries.
There’s been some truly inspiring content shared. For example, beauty Tiktokker @iambrattyb ran a serious where she transformed herself into Black History figures while talking about their lives and achievements. This is an exceptional way of educating her 403k followers around the historical erasure of Black women, encouraging them to do their own research too. It’s not boring, it’s fascinating because of her wonderful makeup tutorials and bite-sized explanations.
Another fantastic series by @nayyeeohhhmeee targets the gap in Black British History. She posts specifically about important events in Black history, as well as educating users on Black British figures like Mary Seacole. These short factoid videos engage a young audience with shorter attention spans, making celebrating Black History part of daily social media consumption.
The #myroots campaign and other trending topics
TikTok announced the #myroots campaign as part of British Black History Month. This would include online and in-person advertising featuring Black creators talking about their Afro-Caribbean heritage. We’re proud that our own managed talent, Lily-Rose from the Bytehouse also featured in this campaign online, and on billboards in prominent locations across London.
With people sharing their cultural roots through family recipes, stories, dances and hair tutorials, #myroots garnered over 190 million views on TikTok. This went a long way in making people feel less isolated about their experiences, and sparked warm discussion around shared cultural heritage. This campaign showed off beautiful, diverse and rich Black heritage, while sparking a conversation around why these cultures may not have been celebrated enough in the first place.
While not specifically created for Black History Month, this hashtag encouraged people to share their family traditions. It gained traction during Black History Month, with 34 million views on videos in the hashtag. People shared facts about their culture and countries of origin, surprising facts about food, language, social traditions and even familial quirks. Just like #myroots, this has the effect of opening up people’s eyes to the beauty of Black culture, and specific struggles faced by people of color.
Conclusion: Diversity isn’t just a buzzword anymore
TikTok, as a company, committed resources towards both the #myroots campaign and several live sessions, summits and more. They’re not alone: firms who have never spoken up politically have pledged support towards Black Lives Matter. Apple posted a lengthy statement, and if you tell Siri that “All Lives Matter”, the response educates you on why this phrase is often used to detract from the real problem. Gen Z darling Glossier pledged $500,000 to supporting black business initiatives. All of this tells us that diversity and inclusion aren’t just corporate buzzwords anymore.
This Black History Month has been especially poignant in light of recent events, and teens on TikTok have paved the way towards anti-racism, political involvement and awareness through funny skits, dances, factoid videos and more.