For 2020 Black History Month, TikTok knew that it wanted to hold space for its top Black creators to network and learn from each other about their massive surges in popularity on the fairly new app. Instead of hosting a couple meetings or panels, however, the Gen Z-favored lip-syncing app decided to throw a bash of a summit last week for their #MakeBlackHistory campaign. Complete with celeb appearances and speakers, an intimate concert and a kickoff dinner, the summit was truly the first of its kind. Oh, and Doja Cat finally did @yodelinghaley's "Say So" dance.
"It's always important to us to recognize, uplift and invest in those on our platform who are driving culture and creativity," TikTok's Director of Creator Community Kudzi Chikumbu wrote about the event on the app's blog. "We recognize that for many users, TikTok allows them to showcase their creativity and reach new heights, and it's important to us that we are celebrating the diverse voices that exist on the platform."
The summit was a hit among creators from the outset and superstar Tyra Banks served as the keynote speaker for the kickoff dinner where she spoke to attendees about inclusivity across social platforms, as well as authenticity. These themes were sort of the capstone takeaways from the summit, and were discussed in-depth throughout the rest of the events. Tracee Ellis Ross even had an entire talk about authenticity in one's social branding, anchoring more recent discussions about race and social media that have occurred as a result of TikTok's rise in popularity.
When discussing why it was important for them to show up to a TikTok summit specifically for Black creators at the forefront of in-app trends, many attendees were candid about the lack of diversity in the media — and even on TikTok. "TikTok is actively trying to change for the better, because on other platforms, you don't always feel as welcome as you do on TikTok," Jennifer Williams, a cosplayer on the app noted. "I have the freedom to be authentic and true to myself on TikTok and that's what this event is doing for us. I am super grateful this was organized for us because it allows us to feel heard and acknowledged."
Other speakers throughout the summit included Terry Crews and Nick Canon, who spoke more generally to creators about self-empowerment through content creation. The event series was capped off, however, with a performance by one of the most viral artists on TikTok, the one and only Doja Cat. For the social platforms who haven't followed suit with an event like this, it's about time. Here's to many more summits celebrating Black creators shaping what's next in internet culture.