#BlackVoicesHeard: Black Creators on TikTok have had enough

Whitney Alese
3 min readMay 20, 2020
Iman (TheMuse) on TikTok

Imagine heading to your favorite social media to check out some posts by your favorite creators, only to discover that creator has been suspended from the platform, or worse, had their account banned entirely.

Now imagine that you start to notice a pattern: that all of the accounts getting banned happened to be operated by Black creators. This is the reality on the viral video app, TikTok.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that TikTok had been deliberately disabling the accounts of disabled, fat, or LGBTQ creators. TikTok has also been outed for punishing creators of Color for calling out the racism that runs virtually unchecked on the app while seemingly doing nothing about the actual racism there. Black creators have their accounts shadow-banned, suspended, and outright banned for simply discussing issues of culture.

These are just a few reasons that lead Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, initiated this “black out movement” when she posted this TikTok video on May 7 calling on fellow creators to participate in the protest.

The protest, planned for May 19th in honor of Malcolm X’s birthday, garnered unprecedented support across the platform. That support has gained the attention of news outlets like CNN.

“I did this because black creators are being silenced on TikTok and other social media platforms and I am fed up. Our videos are taken down and our accounts are banned when we speak against racism,” Scott told CNN. “I want TikTok to change their policies when it comes to black and brown creators. We should not be punished for speaking against racism. The accounts of actual racists should be taken down.”

TikTokers joined the protest enmass. Iman of TikTok account TheeMuse, pictured above, created her own videos on the protest by Black creators against TikTok. Numerous avatars of both Black users and allies have since changed to the Black Power fist in solidarity, the platform has been inundated with videos under the hashtag #ImBlack and #BlackVoicesHeard, and the For You Page, a curated section where, popular and upcoming videos depending upon your taste are seen, became very Black.

Whitney Alese

Whitney Alese is a writer & podcaster, featured in WIRED Magazine (Sept 2020) & I-D Magazine (Dec. 2021), and NBC (Jan 2023). She is based in Philadelphia.