As brands look to better reach and more authentically connect with diverse audiences amid the renewed social justice movement of the last year, there’s been a spike in interest in partnering with creators of color. At the same time, influential BIPOC creators are speaking out on the inequalities they have faced as they try to gain the same lucrative sponsorship deals as their white counterparts. Even as brands like Doritos, Logitech and Procter & Gamble make commitments to support BIPOC creators, these influencers are struggling to navigate a complicated brand environment and receive their fair share.
“The people who run these brands with leadership positions, positions of impact and decision-makers need to really do more work to unpack their racial and gender-based biases,” says Confetti, a Twitch streamer with more than 13,000 followers who's working with Logiech’s new #Creators4BIPOC campaign. “Often when I see diversity campaigns I do not get to see myself, a dark-skinned Black woman, because brands often subscribe to colorism," she says, adding that brands choose those in the Black community that are closer to the so-called "standard of beauty.”
And often these efforts are confined to Black History Month and the like, she says. “BIPOC and other marginalized people do not stop being marginalized once a specific awareness month is over,” Confetti says.
Such tensions led to Black creators going on strike on TikTok earlier this month to make a statement on how they weren’t receiving credit for their own dances. In March, when “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” brought on TikTok star Addison Rae Easterling to do eight dances popular on the app, the show was widely criticized for not crediting the Black choreographers who came up with the work.
“The perception that the world puts out on people of color has impacted their economic value in the social space,” says Eric Bigger, former contestant on “The Bachelorette,” and current contestant on Pepsi’s MTV reality show “Match Me if You Can.” “For me, after being on a big show, I don’t know if it’s the algorithm or perception, but my followers haven’t really increased as they could have or how I like, honestly, and I believe that’s the perception the world has for people of color. But looking at previous patterns, there’s inconsistencies there that make that valid.”
These roadblocks, which include overcoming racial biases of social media users; not being prioritized in algorithms; being underpaid compared to white counterparts; and having their content repackaged without receiving profit; were highlighted in the recent Hulu documentary “Who Gets to Be An Influencer.” The New York Times-produced documentary centered on one of the first Black creator houses, Atlanta’s new Collab Crib, and its challenge in getting sponsorships and ad deals. In one poignant scene, several of the house’s creators gather around a laptop in their empty house and watch tours of other creator houses where white occupants show off their pools, cars and TikTok equipment.