As we’ve witnessed over the past few months, there is a racial reckoning happening across several industries. Whether it’s Hollywood or tech, the journey toward abolishing systemic racism seems to be starting with open and honest conversations and ideally, ending with actual substantive change.
In the spirit of complete honesty (which we’re certainly known to embody here at The Root), YouTube definitely has had to do some internal reckoning within its space, including claims of racial discrimination by Black creators who use the platform.
One of the ways in which YouTube appears to be attempting to rectify some of that is by amplifying Black voices. The #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, which was announced this summer, is a $100 million global investment “to present fresh narratives that emphasize the intellectual power, authenticity, dignity, and joy of Black voices, as well as to educate audiences about racial justice.”
“YouTube is committed to spotlighting community-driven storytelling and the important issues that people of color and other marginalized communities face every day,” Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content for YouTube Originals said in a statement. “Now more than ever, it’s essential that we develop, support, and elevate content that is created by and for the Black community.”
Now, the fruits of those funds (which will be allocated over the next three years) have been revealed.
The following new and returning YouTube originals are products of the fund:
Resist - Series premieres October 2020
This 12-episode documentary series follows the grassroots work of multicultural/intersectional organizations fighting the Los Angeles county’s $3.5 billion jail expansion plan in 2018 and examines the issues of cash bail, unlawful arrest, over-policing of Black and brown neighborhoods, and mass incarceration. The series is an emotional look into the motivations and daily struggles of the movement workers on the ground, featuring incredibly inspiring stories from Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter), members of JusticeLA including Jayda Rasberry of Dignity and Power Now, Helen Jones of Dignity and Power Now and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Bamby Salcedo of TransLatina Coalition, and Johnathan Perez of Immigrant Youth Coalition. The docuseries is produced by Blackpills and Pulse Films. Executive Producers are Patrisse Cullors, Dream Hampton, Mervyn Marcano, Thomas Benski, Marisa Clifford, Robin Frank, Tani Ikeda, Kai Bowe, Davey Spens, Clara Levy and Philipe Haim.
HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me On The Yard - Livestream Premieres October 24 - With HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) across the country cancelling their annual Homecomings due to the global pandemic, YouTube in partnership with Jesse Collins Entertainment and Live Nation Urban will take the momentous celebration virtual. This two-hour livestream will be filled with homecoming traditions to raise funds for the United Negro College Fund who plan to split 50% with Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Expect musical performances, band performances from Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of The South, and FAMU’s Marching 100, Step performances, as well as appearances from students, alumni, YouTube creators and inspirational video packages representing the legacy of HBCUs. Executive Producers of “HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me On The Yard” are Jesse Collins, Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Brandon Pankey, and Chris Wagner.
Bear Witness, Take Action Part Two (working title) - Livestream Premieres December 2020 Following the success of the first “Bear Witness, Take Action” special, which was the first YouTube Originals project to come from YouTube’s $100M Black content fund, Part Two will again inspire the platform’s global community to take action for racial justice uniting YouTube creators, public figures, and influential voices. In addition to the livestream, “Bear Witness, Take Action” Part Two will feature unique voices from the Black community producing short form content to share their perspectives and experiences on racial inequity, which will live on YouTube. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to racial justice initiatives directly on the YouTube livestream. The special is produced by the SpringHill Company, Fly On The Wall Entertainment, and Byron Phillips. Reginald Hudlin serves as Executive Producer and Showrunner.
Onyx Family Dinner - Premieres Early 2021
Join the Onyx Family (6M+ combined subscribers) for the dinner table conversation you wish your family had! This new Kids & Families series gathers the multi-generational family for plenty of fun and open conversations about life and what’s going on in the world over dinner. Weekly dinner guests broaden the conversation with different perspectives, thought provoking stories, subject matter expertise and valuable insights. Produced by pocket.watch in association with Shine Global, “Onyx Family Dinner” stars the Onyx Family and is executive produced by Keith Brown, Albie Hecht, the Onyx Family, and Chris M.Williams.
Barbershop Medicine (working title) - Premieres 2021
In Barbershop Medicine YouTube aims to put the “public” back in Public Health, exploring the impact race and socioeconomic status have on healthcare and longevity. The barbershop has long been a center of community, as captured in the landmark clinical trial of blood-pressure reduction that delivered education and care in barbershops. Drawing from this concept of community medicine, the special will bring together musicians, renowned physicians, Creators and community members in a storied barbershop to discuss today’s most pressing health concerns and raise awareness - from vaccines to diabetes, cancer to mental health, and beyond. The special will be executive produced by Charles D. King, Marta Fernandez, Jelani Johnson, and Alisha Corpas Wynn for MACRO Television Studios.
Additionally, YouTube has announced new and upcoming original content that was created prior to the fund launch including Together We Rise (on the UK hip hop scene; now streaming), Trapped: Cash Bail in America (on the criminal justice system; premieres Oct. 12), BookTube (a monthly learning series with renowned authors; premieres Oct. 22), The Outsiders (spotlight on young Black visionaries who have been excluded; premieres Feb. 2021), Glad You Asked Season 2 (an Emmy-nominated series that explores the world around us; new season premieres Feb. 2021) and Lockdown (which follows six friends who solve a mystery during the social distancing era; premieres Nov. 19).
“Race has never been an easy issue to confront but the events over the last few months have opened up doors of dialogue and action that had once seemed closed,” Malik Ducard, YouTube’s Vice President, Content Partnerships said in a statement. “Across YouTube, we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to contribute to these conversations about racial justice in a meaningful way. Through our $100 million content fund and other initiatives, we are continuing the important work of amplifying Black voices, making YouTube a better place for Black creators, educating people on the diversity of the Black experience, and centering Black people as the messengers of their own stories.”