By Emma Harris
In October 2020, YouTube launched a fund for creators from the Black community. The #YouTubeBlack voices fund is a multi-year grant program that aims on providing funding and promoting content from Black creators throughout the world.
But for some Black Canadian YouTubers, the fund never came into view.
The first group of selected creators was announced this January featuring artists, beauty gurus and parents along with many others. The first group featured 132 creators. They come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Africa, Brazil and Australia but the selection excludes the large Black community in Toronto and Canada as a whole.
Oshin Brown, 27, is a Jamaican-born Toronto resident who started her own YouTube channel in 2016. On her channel, she is known as ‘Arianne Styllz‘, where she focuses on makeup and clothing hauls along with other lifestyle videos. She only recently began taking it seriously and posting regular videos. She is currently up to 300 subscribers and 10,000 views but worries that living in Canada may be harming her chances at growing her YouTube into a full-time business.
Oshin said she sees Canadians as being overlooked, especially Canadians from the Black community. She had never heard of the #YouTubeBlack voices fund or even the movement of YouTube celebrating Black voices. She said, “I think that it’s a good thing that they are trying to say ‘oh Black this, Black that’ but chances are they are going to choose content creators who have already blown up in some way shape or form and it’s usually from London or the U.S.”
Oshin’s biggest support has been her friend Chevanne Brown, 26, a fellow Jamaican-Canadian who has been in the YouTube game for much longer. Chevanne, who goes by the YouTube name ‘Damnthatschev’, has approximately 26,000 subscribers and 29 million views. She joined in 2015 and was monetized before they introduced the new measures dictating how many view hours were needed to get paid for your content.
Chevanne advised Oshin at one point to always stay persistent in order to create a name for yourself. She believes it is important to have a niche that you are really passionate about in order to excel. Most of her viewers have come from being suggested on other people’s feeds but only when viewers are looking for her type of content.
“Sixty per cent of my views are American and then it’s a split between Jamaica, the U.K and South Africa with Canada last in her top five,” she said. Her content mainly features Black hair styles, so she understands that while she is passionate about her niche, the community of viewers is a lot smaller and not quite Canadian.
Chevanne said that she tries to make her other videos more universal, so she never tags Canada like Oshin. That could be why her Canadian viewer count is low. She said, “I do beauty, and clothing hauls as well so I would see the disadvantage there compared to like if I did a Shein haul compared to a non-Black person … the views will differ.”
Both Chevanne and Oshin agreed that the community with caucasian content creators is much larger and they show more support for each other.
While neither content creator has never heard of the #YouTubeBlack voices fund, they say it is a good idea for Black creators to have their voices heard in any way possible. They believe that it is not necessarily YouTube’s fault, but the algorithms on social media in general, especially in Canada, are making their videos appear less often on the public feed.