Black creators’ concerns go deeper than just getting dance credits or more brand deals. “We are being exploited, and that is the main issue that black people have always had in terms of labor,” Mr. Louis said. “These millions of likes, all of which must translate in some form or the other. How will we get the real money, power and fair compensation that we deserve?”
According to Lee Jin, founder of Atelier, a venture firm investing in the maker economy, these tensions stem from systemic inequalities in the online maker industry. “The issue here is ownership,” she said. “The working class has been denied the right to vote and does not own the means of creation and distribution.”
More creators, especially those from marginalized groups, are seeing skyrocketing valuations of technology companies and rethinking their relationships with some platforms.
“People realize that these tech companies are too valuable, they’re worth too much, and tech CEOs and employees are getting a lot of money.” Ms. Jin said. “But the forum participants, the creators, are left out of this equation. There is a tone of economic inequality, which is largely the issue of our time.”
“My hope is that we realize this is a whole class of work that didn’t exist before,” she said. “If we do not offer protection and rights to this class of workers, they will be increasingly deprived.”
Black content creator and Collab Crib member Kellyanne Kastle, 24, said she was not participating in the strike, but represents it. “The strike is to send a message. The business models of these apps, they have given us here to work more and pay less,” she said. “We are working longer but at the end of the day we are still doing nothing, and we Black producers are doing even less.”