Every February, we all stop to observe Black History Month and the contributions of the black community to our history and culture. The list of inventions, arts, and education created by black men and women throughout history is staggering and deserves notice more than just for the month of February. But while we stop to honor outstanding black contributions throughout history, we also want to stop and look at black influencers making an impact in 2022.
There are still boundaries being broken down by outstanding talents in fields where black voices are still fairly new, especially when it comes to influencers. We can’t talk about them all without writing a book about it, but here are a few of the standouts.
If you still think “nerds in a basement” when someone says Dungeons and Dragons, it’s time to look again. The popularity of tabletop gaming exploded in 2020 with the pandemic. Sales of books, dice, and other products related to tabletop gaming jumped up by 33%. It’s not just the nerds playing anymore – it’s also their friends, family, and acquaintances.
Even more importantly, D&D and other tabletop roleplaying games have shown players from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds how to find a voice and express themselves. It doesn’t matter what your skin color or your background is when you create a character in D&D. Players have the freedom to create their own history from their own imagination.
Aabria Iyengar, a roleplaying game streamer, podcaster, and writer, is one of the freshest voices in this rapidly growing space. She has appeared on multiple popular Dungeons and Dragons podcasts both as a player and a gamemaster. She has appeared on shows like Dimension 20, Into the Mother Lands, Saving Throw and Exandria Unlimited. Her passion for storytelling and GMing has won her many fans and viewers with every new adventure.
In addition to her gaming credits, she also serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Dice Envy, a brand that specializes in premium gaming dice and accessories for tabletop gamers. In addition to selling high-quality gaming gear, the brand as a whole is committed to “uplifting the voices of Black community members”.
Most recently, she served as a guest Gamemaster on the incredibly popular D&D podcast Critical Role. Critical Role is also the highest-earning channel on Twitch.tv, with hundreds of thousands of viewers tuning in every week to watch each new episode. Her creativity and ability to entertain have gotten her to the highest level of success in the roleplaying community, and her profile only continues to climb each year. We can’t wait to see what adventure she’ll appear in next.
The fields of Interior Design and Home Decor have been traditionally dominated by white voices for a very long time. In fact, the American Society of Interior Designers and other data sources report that only about 2% of Interior Designers are black, while 84% identify as white. Black influence has been severely stunted in a field that directly affects anyone and everyone with a home to call their own.
But with influencers like Victoria Ford, aka “The Prepford Wife”, those trends are slowly balancing themselves out. Ford runs a blog that focuses on Home Decor, with projects ranging from adding new tiling to a wall to one room challenges that reimagine specific rooms in the home. Ford goes into meticulous detail on each project, both entertaining her audience and also teaching them how they can tackle similar projects in their own homes.
But that’s not the only kind of content Ford excels in. She also blogs about personal style, travel, and lifestyle topics in general. This can range from anything to reviews on the best kind of luggage for travel, to reviewing exhibitions and things to do in her area. She does all of this to a growing audience while maintaining her distinctly preppy style, earning her site’s name all over again with every new post.
Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black
The popularity of the esports market has exploded over the past few years. Over 200 million people consistently watched some sort of competitive video game between professional players in 2021, and that number is expected to be closer to 300 million by 2024. Professional esports players are also earning sponsorships and endorsements similar to athletes in traditional sports. They even train like traditional athletes to enhance their performance.
Despite all this, black representation in esports is very small. Just 2% of pro esports players are black, which is wildly disproportionate to the 13% that the black population represents as a whole in the United States. But players like Zaqueri Black, aka “Aphromoo”, are making a difference in breaking into the white and asian dominated esports spaces.
Black is the only black player to play in the League Championship Series, which is the competitive scene for League of Legends. It is one of the most popular video games in the world for both casual and competitive players. Viewership for the League of Legends World Championship Finals often competes with or even surpasses the Super Bowl. It represents one of the biggest stages for esports, and Black has been a fixture in the LCS since 2015.
Black’s teams have finished first at LCS events in both 2015 and 2016. Additionally, his team finished first in the regular season in 2018 and he won the Spring Split MVP that same year, the first time that a support type player had ever earned the award. His teammates credited his strong play and veteran leadership for much of their success that season.
Black continues to play at a high level in the current LCS, even though his teams have not placed as well in the past couple of years. But his presence continues to inspire more young aspiring black esport athletes and black influencers that they can reach that level too. That is worth celebrating beyond just winning games and championships.
Olajide William “JJ” Olatuni
Youtube has long been a launching pad for strong personalities to turn themselves into mega influencers with consistently compelling content. Olajide William “JJ” Olatuni, aka “KSI”, is an excellent example of one of the more recent personalities to make that leap. From 2009 to 2021, his videos have a combined total of over 9 billion total views.
KSI got his start with vlogs, comedy-styled videos, and gaming commentary for the FIFA series of soccer video games. From there, he joined the Sidemen, a British youtube group that create video content centered around various challenges, sketches, and commentaries on different video games. He is one of the two black members in the group. Through his projects with the group, he has become the co-owner of Prime Hydration, XIX Vodka, and a restaurant chain appropriately called Sides.
In recent years, he has branched out to other interests, including music and athletics. In 2020, he released his own rap album, Dissimulation, which placed 2nd on the UK charts. His follow up album, All Over the Place, debuted at number 1. In total, he has 14 top 40 singles in the UK. Of those 14, 7 made the top 10, and 5 made the top 5.
Most recently, KSI has competed in a series of boxing matches against other Youtubers like Joe Weller and Logan Paul. His match against Weller and the first match against Paul were amateur bouts, but his victory against Paul in their second bout was professionally sanctioned, making his pro record 1-0.
Regardless of what endeavor KSI chooses to pursue next, his history of success with everything he does suggests that he will find a way to excel at it. The impact of seeing a young black man stand out and become successful pursuing his passions, no matter what they are, cannot be understated on future generations of young black influencers.
Kameron Monet stands out on social media for many reasons. As soon as she graduated with her law degree in 2015, she set out to find a way to combine her love of content creation and law. It did not take her long to find her niche. She is among the first of her kind that are increasingly making their presence known on platforms like Instagram and TikTok: the lawyer influencer.
From her website, The Legal Tea, she uses her expertise in law to educate up-and-coming influencers on how to best represent themselves in contracts, and better understand the process as they negotiate agreements with brands. She also discusses law and how it affects social media and provides tips and masterclasses to her followers. Her primary focus is on creators on major platforms like Youtube, but all influencers can find something to take away from her content.
But naturally, she couldn’t be a lawyer influencer without also partnering and promoting brands. She has partnered with brands like Ulta Beauty, Ann Klein, and Dove to promote their products and interact with her follower base to educate them on product lines. Her profile continues to grow, and her unique perspective continues to attract a larger audience not just as a black influencer, but in creating an entirely new kind of influencer.
George Lee is a different kind of black influencer. From his wildly successful TikTok channel “theconsciouslee”, he has built a huge audience for his message of cultivating black intellectuals. His focus is building an audience that knows how to engage in debates with a tone that gets the point across, regardless of the situation. He holds an undergraduate degree in African & African American Studies, and master’s degrees in both Human Relations and Higher Education Studies. All of this gives him a broad education and a strong intellectual approach to the social issues he tackles on his platforms.
On his TikTok channel, Lee does a little bit of everything. He tackles issues like racial inequality, problematic statements, and controversial current events. He also provides more traditional TikTok content like hip hop dancing, reviewing items like air fryers, and talking about married life with a humorous slant. But make no mistake: his primary focus is educating his followers and other browsers on TikTok about the hard realities of what it means to be black, and all of the challenges black men and women face on a daily basis.
Lee’s TikTok channel has accrued over 55 million total likes, so it’s safe to say that his message is reaching and challenging the minds of those that come into contact with him. In addition to his presence as an influencer on TikTok, Lee is also a professor at the University of Oklahoma. He has been featured in Forbes, Essence, the Washington Post, The Atlanta, and The New York Times. His intellectual approach has been getting him noticed, and he is showing how TikTok can be used for more than just fun short-form music videos.
Sideqik Knows Influencers
Do these black influencers look like they’re the kind of people that could elevate your brand? Sideqik can help you discover more voices just like theirs. Sideqik’s platform allows your brand to not only source the influencers that match your brand’s standards but track their creator campaigns for your products through robust social commerce integrations. We offer an end-to-end suite of services for your influencer campaigns, including over 20+ million influencer profiles that appeal to hundreds of interests. From micro-influencers with intimate access to their audiences with niche interests to mega influencers that are household names with unmatched reach, Sideqik has them all.
Interested in how Sideqik can help you elevate your brand with influencer campaigns and keep you ahead of changes like these? Contact us today for a free demo.