Black Influencers Are Becoming The New Celebrities
Doing it our way and creating our own representation
Social media has long been a reflection of society at large, with all its prejudices and preferences intact. So what does it mean when black social media users begin influencing large crowds and challenging some of those mainstream preferences and prejudices?
Black influencers in social media are playing a significant role in changing expectations, smashing stereotypes and expanding what it means to be black on the internet, and subsequently in real life too. The impact of an influencer extends far beyond the screen of your smartphone - influencers shape national conversation. Black influencers across social media platforms are doing that in their own way, whether they’re a style icon, political activist or blogger.
Black influencers change beauty standards
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On Instagram, users spend a lot of time browsing through the recommend search page. This page is curated by Instagram’s algorithm, which is affected by how many likes and comments a post gets. As more black users join apps like Instagram, which are ballooning in popularity, they’ll begin finding and promoting content creators that make content that appeals to them, bringing those users to the forefront of Instagram’s recommended search.
When black beauty bloggers hit the mainstream, they’re going to be exposed to judgmental followers that may judge them through white beauty standards - but they’re also going to be exposed to non-judgmental followers who have never seen a beauty blogger with that particular style before. Bloggers like Patricia Bright and Ellarie present mainstream audiences with exposure to black beauty bloggers and makeup gurus. Where traditionally black beauty was relegated to niche categories, these Instagram bloggers are finding mainstream success and bringing subjects like natural hair to the forefront of beauty standards and conversation.
Black influencers smash stereotypes
Mainstream social media has done a lot to propagate stereotypes about black people, suggesting that all black people are one way or another. Social media influencers have the opportunity to smash all those expectations by showing what real black personalities look like, and demonstrating that there is, in fact, ample variety among black audiences.
For example, Jamie Broadnax is the blogger behind Black Girl Nerds, a social media community for black women interested in nerdy or geeky subjects like comic books and video games, typically assumed to be the purview of white men. Her social media account has provided black girls with a community to share their interests without shame, but it has also provided outside audiences with the ability to explore and learn about how their preconceived notions about Black people may have been incorrect.
Black influencers serve as role models
Black influencers on social media get to do exactly just that - influence their audience with their content. Although black communities have long known that we are far more complex and nuanced than white audiences represent us to be, black audiences have also been subject to stereotypes and lack of representation across media platforms. As a result, black children growing up have struggled to find content that represents their interests without shaming their race, forcing them to choose between their individual interests and their identity.
With social media influencers gaining ground, black children have an opportunity to see their own interests expressed by black influencers who are making careers out of living their lives and enjoying their hobbies. The growing access to black influencers representing any number of sub-cultures, communities, and interests means black children have more role models than ever to demonstrate what their potential future could look like.The move from prioritizing celebrities on social media to prioritizing talented individuals has allowed minority populations traditionally ignored by mainstream media to generate their own grassroots success, uninhibited by outside expectations and demands. Black influencers are taking full advantage of that freedom to change the boundaries and present the social media world with a new, updated and completely redefined image of what black lives look like.