With Black History Month getting underway this week, TikTok has announced a new #BlackTikTok event, which aims to highlight Black creators on the platform, and elevate their efforts.
As explained by TikTok:
“We're celebrating and honoring #BlackTikTok all month and beyond, with a billboard takeover of the Pendry West Hollywood, new in-app stickers, Black music playlists and TikTok LIVE programming that spotlights Black creators making waves on and off the platform.”
As you can see here, TikTok’s new themed stickers will provide a way for users to take part in the broader commemoration.
TikTok’s live-streams, meanwhile, will showcase a range of Black creators, musicians, businesses and organizations.
“Kicking off on February 4th and every week this month, we will launch a variety of themed programming celebrating those who are making an impact in the entertainment industry and in their community.”
TikTok’s also partnering with iHeartRadio for a live event celebrating Black Music in the app, which will feature performances by Lizzo and Big Sean, among others, while it will also showcase ‘genre busting’ Black artists via the #BlackMusic hashtag.
Finally, TikTok has also announced its 2022 ‘Black TikTok Trailblazers’, a group of creators that represent the next generation of entertainment leaders, and have been nominated by the TikTok community for their creativity, passion, and authenticity.
It’s the latest in TikTok’s broader effort to support Black creators as it looks to elevate those in minority groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Last January, the platform launched its TikTok for Black Creatives incubator program, through which it provided funding and support for 100 emerging Black creators and musicians in the app, while it also allocated a further $50k each to 10 more Black creators in November as part of its MACRO x TikTok Black Creatives initiative. It’s also promoted Black-owned businesses via its #ShopBlack campaign.
At the same time, TikTok has also had to contend with various criticisms of the way its systems are potentially biased against Black users.
Last July, a group of the app’s top stars held a strike to protest its treatment of Black creators, who drive many of in-app trends.
As explained by The Black Media Authority:
“While White creators are being signed to record labels, being invited on talk shows and getting paid for their popularity, Black creators are going unnoticed and unheard. Notably Charli D’Amelio, a creator with 131.5 million followers and her own reality television show was criticized for not giving credit to Black creator Jalaiah Harmon after passing off “The Renegade” dance as her own. D’Amelio eventually credited Harmon for the dances choreography after receiving backlash from the public.”
This, the creators say, is just one example of the way TikTok’s broader impact has inherently favored white talent, which has prompted TikTok to re-evaluate its processes in order to detect and eliminate any potential bias in the way it ranks and promotes clips.
The app is now a key platform for many creators, from many communities, and it’s important for TikTok to both recognize and nurture such where it can, in order to keep expanding its cultural presence. Black creators are already key drivers of such in the app, and Black History Month is the perfect time to both celebrate and acknowledge their contributions, and offer additional pathways to support wherever it can.