The Being Black on YouTube panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City 2019, on the Lifestyle Stage. Panellists included Ruwaydah Seidu-Osman, Nego True and Adjani Salmon. Ehiz Ufuah moderated the discussion.
Mo Ojo and Josiah Hyacinth also featured on the panel. The first question Ehiz posed was how the panellists’ families and friends reacted when they told them they wanted to become content creators.
The panellists came to a consensus that they have the support of their loved ones, but that it took a while for them to adjust. Mo said that for her, they saw it as an anti-climax as she’d just finished university with a first-class honours degree and had intended to pursue further study in medicine, before realising that was no longer what she wanted to do.
Nego opened up about the fact that he came from a results-based family, which meant that his family, although supportive, were cautious.
There were a couple of financially hard months in which his father questioned if this was a viable option for him. His mother took a different approach and provided him with some business advice. So there was a balance but the need to succeed was there from the get-go.
There was general consensus from the panellists that their parents’ main concerns were the safety and sustainability of this career.
The next question dug into the problems black content creators face on YouTube. Nego made the point that “You can’t request funding based on what you feel”, meaning that you need be in demand as a creator in order to receive the funding and the truth is, as a black creator you are a minority which means you are not in demand.
Ruwaydah echoed this and talked about how being in interracial relationships has had an impact on her gaining an audience. She also added there is something to be said for playing to the stereotypes people have in order to garner interest in your content.
The panellists also made the point that we watch people who are like us and unfortunately, a lot of black people simply do not watch YouTube.
Writer and director Adjani also commented on the social-economic position of the majority of black creators, pointing out many do not have the funds to be able to invest in the tools they need to create the content they want to.
Ehiz spoke about being the only black person in the room at events. Looking back, he found those around him were a bit standoffish and didn’t know how to speak to him. Although he added that initiatives such as YouTube Black showed there was a community and enable like-minded people to come together.
Nego mentioned how the community can be leveraged to creators’ advantages. He came up with the idea of creatives coming together not to create content necessarily, but to have open and frank discussions about their business and learn from each other.
Photos by Jon D Barker.
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