The concerns of black designers go beyond just getting dance credits or other branded deals. “We are exploited, and this is the central problem blacks have always had in terms of work,” Mr. Louis said. “Those millions of likes should all translate into something. How do we get the real money, power, and the proper compensation we deserve? “
According to Li Jin, the founder of Atelier, a venture capital firm that invests in the economy of creators, these tensions stem from systemic inequalities in the online creator industry. “The problem here is ownership,” she said. “The working class is deprived of its rights and does not have ownership of the means of creation and distribution. ”
More and more creators, especially those from marginalized groups, are observing the skyrocketing valuations of tech companies and reconsidering their relationships with certain platforms.
“People realize that these tech companies are worth so much, that they are so popular, and that CEOs and tech employees are gaining so much wealth,” Ms. Jin said. “But the platform participants, the creators, were left out of this equation. There is a nuance of economic inequality, which is globally the problem of our time. “
“My hope is that we realize this is an entire working class that didn’t exist before,” she added. “If we do not provide this category of workers with protections and rights, they will increasingly be disenfranchised.
Kaelyn Kastle, 24, a black content creator and member of the Collab Crib, said she was not taking part in the strike, but supported what she stood for. “The strike is to send a message. The business models of these apps make us overwork and underpaid, ”she said. “We work long hours, but in the end we still earn little or nothing, and we black designers earn even less. “