I am a part of the generation whose teen years was heavily influenced by the emergence of social media.
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and a slew of other social media platforms gained momentum through my middle and high school years. I watched as everyday life became intertwined with what was happening online.
Who liked whose post became an indicator of friendships, or the reason those friendships ended. Beauty standards became twisted by body editing apps and filters just realistic enough to make you question why you didn’t look like that in the mirror. What was cool and what wasn’t and the trends that rose and fell, were all determined by the number of likes or shares or views something got on the internet.
At the helm of influencing were always people of color. New dances, jokes, slang, clothing styles, makeup looks, almost always stemmed from POC.
My mom always said everything cool in the United States starts with us, but they’re ridiculed until they become mainstream. Black fashion is ghetto until white people start wearing it. Slang is improper until white kids start using it.
People of Color were constantly discredited for the trends they created, and not taken seriously until white people appropriated them.
Social media became a tool to refute this because the internet is written in ink, not pencil. Proof cannot be erased. Everything has an origin, and with the rise of Black social media stars, it became near impossible for white people to take credit for what POC created. A new avenue was formed for creatives of color to gain exposure for the art we’ve been creating for decades.
Platforms began setting up funds specifically for their Black and Brown creators, with the ever-expanding TikTok becoming the most recent platform to do so. Their goal is to support the influencers of color that bring so much traffic to their companies in the hopes they will continue.
While being part of the generation dominated by social media certainly has its drawbacks, I’ve also watched it celebrate the Black community in ways like never before. I’ve watched it expose kids from sheltered, segregated parts of the country to people and ways of life far different from their own.
I’ve watched it give a platform for Black and Brown artists to be seen.
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