QUOTE OF THE WEEK 📜
The rise of influencer culture online has brought significant new opportunities for those working in the creative industries and a boost to the UK economy.
However, as is so often the case where social media is involved, if you dig below the shiny surface of what you see on screen you will discover an altogether murkier world where both the influencers and their followers are at risk of exploitation and harm online.
-- Julian Knight, UK Conservative chair of the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee
NEWS: NEED TO KNOW 🔎
Buffalo mass shooting: Let's not pretend we don't know where hate comes from
Camille Dundas in her video tweet said white people shouldn't be surprised the Buffalo mass shooting happened due to ongoing structural racism and inequities. The Toronto-based diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant said,
"The grocery store where the terror attack happened was the only grocery store in walking distance for so many residents. Buffalo black residents are 6 times more likely than white residents to live in a community without a grocery store."
What is structural racism? Structural racism includes all the social, political, and economic systems of our society collectively. Kehinde Andrews, a UK professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, says,
“Structural racism refers to the systematic oppression of ethnic minorities that leads the disparities that we see in terms of income, employment, health, etc.”
Jamelle Bouie on structural racism wrote that it's helpful:
"to remind oneself that the challenge of racism is primarily structural and material, not cultural and linguistic, and that a disproportionate focus on the latter can too often obscure the former.
What is institutional racism? Institutional racism is racism that exists in institutions and is typically political or social. Policies and practices that are implemented consciously or unconsciously result in disadvantages for one racial group. Professor Andrews says,
“Institutional racism refers to how racism is practised through the institutions such as schools, universities, workplaces in ways that maintain structural racism.”
UK MPs to investigate influencer pay amid evidence of racial gap
The influencer marketing industry is estimated to grow from $6bn in 2020 to $24.1bn by 2025. But the distribution of wealth is far from equal. The House of Commons digital, culture, media, and sport committee recommended the UK government investigate influencer pay standards. It's part of a larger review of the influencer industry stemming from inconsistent pay rates and evidence of a racial pay gap. While it's possible to have a successful career as an influencer, payment from brands to influencers "varies widely".
This is in line with a study, published in December 2021, called, "Time to Face the Influencer Pay Gap". It found that in the $16.4 billion influencer industry in the US, the pay gap between white influencers, and those who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color, was 29%. Between white and Black influencers, the pay gap was as high as 35%. Moreover, 49% of Black influencers felt their race was part of the reason for low pay while 59% felt that posting about their race negatively impacted them financially. Women influencers earn 30% less than men.
Don't call me an influencer: The rise of the 'content creator'
According to the trend forecasting company, WGSN coined "Genuinfluencers" in late 2021. The pandemic resulted in social media influencers shifting from using platforms solely for what they have (product placement) to what they can share (relevant information that informs people). Not surprisingly, shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians ended. Kim Kardashian was lambasted by many people including KISS frontman, Paul Stanley's tweet after she said in March 2022 that women were unsuccessful because they were lazy and didn't work hard.
The pandemic showed young people that the world shouldn't be viewed through rose-colored glasses. They prefer real people who are not perfect. They're more interested in sharing important and unbiased information, issues and advice, and discussing their passions instead of selling brands or products.
PROFILE: DO WHAT YOU WANT ❤️
Simu Liu | TIME100 Most Influential People 2022
It's safe to say Simu Liu, who grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, is having a banner year. He tweeted about the tremendous honor of being named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2022. He believes his purpose is to foster greater REPRESENTATION - that is to highlight and remind people of color that they belong and matter.
Liu in his 2022 book, We Were Dreamers describes how for most of his life, he gravitated towards being a lone wolf with a "me-against-the world" attitude. This approach led to him often experiencing strong feelings of isolation, frustration, and helplessness growing up in Canada and as a struggling actor in Hollywood.
In Hollywood, he decided he needed to change. He started asking for help, hoping to find a community where he might feel like he belonged. On a whim, he sent a DM via Twitter to comedian, Ken Jeong. Jeong replied within minutes. Lui recounted how he was so not prepared for the tsunami of kindness and generosity from Jeong and many others that followed. Lui's new friends helped him see the shortfall in an 'always solo' mindset in favor of community and kindness.
Lui writes in his memoir that he never told Jeong he was "the shining beacon of kindness during some of my toughest days in L.A". Lui is paying it forward and regularly speaks to students about topics he struggles with like imposter syndrome.
Who is (or could be) your shining beacon of kindness?
RESILIENCE HACKS 💪🏾 ✌🏽💯
Why you should do a premortem
Daniel Kahneman's favorite hack for making better decisions is to do a premortem. Before you make a big decision, consider doing a premortem. It's the opposite of post-mortem, which is done to explain the cause of death. Here's a great visual by Jason Yip.
Coined by Gary Klein, a premortem works by bringing a small group of people together to imagine why a project failed before you start. Split the group into two groups. One group lists all the reasons for failure and the second cites reasons for success. Klein says this isn't the time for people to keep quiet "for fear of being impolite". As the groups present their reasons, make your plan stronger based on obstacles and assumptions. One unexpected amazing additional benefit of the premortem is that new hidden opportunities often become visible while evaluating the risks.
ONE LAST THOUGHT 📣
One Vote by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Poem)
Many young voters including first and second generation immigrants, sometimes feel that their vote won't make a difference. American poet and author, Aimee Nezhukumatathil reminds us that every vote counts. She draws draws upon her Filipina and Malayali Indian background and gives her perspective on choice with her poem, One Vote.
WE ❤️ FEEDBACK 📋
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You Only Live Once (YOLO) - Drake 🌻
I apologize for this first and longer than normal commentary. Future commentaries will be brief (I hope).
I've been in hibernation for the past 6 months working on a project. That project comes to life today. I spent much of this period reflecting on what changed in the past two years. The world changed but I believe people changed way more and in a good way.
Conversation after conversation showed that people were asking more introspective questions. Why am I here and what if this is not the right path for me? Their questions challenged their assumptions and beliefs about their communities, social networks, friendships, institutions, and even their government. After George Floyd was killed, they watched and some participated in the largest anti-racism global protests in history. They questioned if this was the great reckoning that would lead to lasting change. They questioned and some even canceled their Canada Day celebrations after hundreds of unmarked graves were found at former Indigenous residential schools in various provinces.
The Rise of the Creator Economy: During this period, tens of millions of people joined the online economy as content creators, consumers, or both. The great resignation of 2021 happened as millions of people felt disconnected and dissatisfied with how their workplaces and bosses treated them. Inspired by Gen Zers, the YOLO economy of 'You Only Live Once' took off across the spectrum.
Innovation in the online economy accelerated by 5 to 10 years. Content creators began shifting to new 'creator friendly' technology platforms that promised better financial opportunities. They also promised better representation and visibility for minority creators. As often happens, it turns out, the online creator economy mirrored the real world and wasn't as even as everyone hoped. In an unregulated space, access to opportunity whether financial or other was limited or restricted to those with the right connections and network. Racial discrimination, online hate, and a willingness to intentionally be non-inclusive toward visible minorities takes on a whole new meaning in the online world.
Stories of BIPOC creators filled with guilt abound as they chase their dreams without role models, support networks, or adequate runways to properly fail and try again. Structural racism is embedded in something called algorithm basis with the big social media platforms. Brand sponsors happily pay creators of color who don't know any better about one-third less than their white counterparts. The influencer marketing industry has been going strong for well over a decade, yet the online pay gap for people of color and women doesn't get enough attention.
I started Spinning Foward to show people of color how to get in touch with the best version of themselves in the online world. Basically, how to get stronger and succeed faster, despite the obstacles they face. The best way to do that is to change the conversation and have role models locally, that look like you. Most people today will have two careers side by side, at the same time. One will be the 9 to 5 job, which may feel like unfulfilling drudgery day in and day out. Burning out slowly is inevitable unless you pursue your dream career at least part-time. It will make you come alive, feel awake, and fully expressed because it's all you. You might never take the plunge to make a full-time switch to your dream career. But that's ok because you've still taking your shot despite the fear. Not taking a shot at all towards a dream career is not ok when you realize it's who you are.
Spinning Forward wants to help creator communities of color get stronger from the purview of the online creator economy. We want to cover the big picture but also what's happening in communities across the Greater Toronto Area where most creators launch their dream careers from their bedrooms without support or fanfare. We want to shift the conversation where if you look different in a certain industry, you won't be labeled the 'other', the outsider, or the imposter waiting to be found out and sent home.
I hope you'll stick around as we cover the creator economy, how creators of color fit and how they are spinning forward despite the hurdles and obstacles.
If you enjoyed this issue, I'd appreciate it if you shared it with a few friends and asked them to subscribe.
Publisher and Founder, Spinning Forward