Creating content while Black in 2022

After 2020’s BLM protests, an influx of white followers flocked to the pages of Black content creators both big and small. The accounts they followed spoke on personal experiences, broke down hard topics, commented on the latest occurrences—all surrounding the subject of race. By following said accounts, the white masses felt as though they were broadening their horizons, listening to the disenfranchised, and as is too popular to say today “doing the work.”

What happens when the accounts that taught us so much over the past few years (or more in some cases) want to delve into other topics aside from race? Can their audiences grow the way a white creator’s would from the same content? Being spoon-fed diagrams, serious talks, and introspective pieces has only bred entitlement to our thought labor. We expect Black people to work without compensation because “how else can they expect us to change if they don’t tell us what to do?”

Personally, I know my work can range from different topics (womanhood, mental health, etc.), and that race is one of my stronger (and more popular) subjects. However I can’t help but notice that other accounts can post my womanhood or mental health posts and the engagement will sky rocket. Meanwhile on my account if it isn’t racially motivated it’s not moving past a certain number.

It’s difficult to admit, but Black content creators’ grief and tragedy is currently our most valued contribution. It makes me wonder: what is your place in the world when you are only as valuable as the last murder of your people? I see two options for today’s Black creators: ride the wave that gets our income up in the very best way we can so that we can achieve what we really want once our finances aren’t so strained; OR pursue something else entirely and wait for people to one day catch on to our brilliance. Principles are one thing, but keeping yourself fed and housed in a pandemic while Black, LGBTQIA, disabled, or all of the above, is quite another.

I purposefully wanted this article to come out before the Juneteenth shenanigans start, where all of your favorite brands will suddenly recognize Black folks in a different month that’s not February (Black History Month). Take notice of who supports Black people year-round and not when the buzz words will give them diversity points. I think it’s important for light to be shed on the plight of discriminated peoples in every facet of life, but what does that do to the psyche if your only role is to give the “racial perspective” 24/7? Not recognizing us as complete human beings is what has the world in disarray in the first place.

What I want for Black creators is to gain recognition and do whatever they want in their respective lives without the task of educating non-Black folks.

Antoinette Thomas

Brooklyn-based multimedia artist, who works as an illustrator, painter, and pyrographer. The comic strips Thomas creates meditate on daily struggles, as well as a more direct social commentary addressing race, being a woman, the work place, and more.

Make what you make make money

Start a store