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Black creators are using innovative techniques to build community on TikTok: 'It’s something that can genuinely bring families and friends together'

Black creators are using innovative techniques to build community on TikTok: 'It’s something that can genuinely bring families and friends together'

#BlackTikTok has over 36 billion views from more than 4 million posts on the social media platform and is a massive subsection of the app. Within #BlackTikTok, there are several creators who have found not only success with their videos but also a strong community of followers in the process. Whether because of creative video formats or the ability to give audiences access to their personal lives, many Black creators are seeing their impact reverberate across the platform and beyond.

Jordan Howlett (@jordan_the_stallion8) is one of those creators. He recently went viral after talking about aging as a member of Gen Z and sharing that many people (including The Rock) have mistaken him for being decades older than his actual age.

“I am Gen Z and nobody ever believes me,” Howlett, 26, says in a Jan. 17 TikTok post. That video has garnered over 22 million views.

Howlett is best known as the founder of the Fast Food Secrets Club, in which he shares popular fast food recipes, how to order off-the-menu items and little-known coupon codes to save on purchases. Whether he’s sharing secret recipes or venting about everyday frustrations using his signature “zoom-in” technique, Howlett has cultivated a robust online community of 12 million followers.

Howlett’s ability to connect with his following and turn it into a community is one of the reasons he was named to TikTok’s 2024 #BlackTikTok Visionary Voices list, in honor of Black History Month, which highlights 15 Black creators across the app in three different categories (creators, industry disruptors and small business owners).

“My favorite part about connecting with people through fast food secrets is the genuine amount of fun we all have, sharing something we all love: FOOD,” Howlett told Yahoo News via email. “It’s something that can genuinely bring families and friends together, which honestly warms my heart. Cooking and baking brought me and my family closer, so it means the world to me that I can extend that to others in any way.”

Howlett hopes that his work can be used to spotlight and uplift the Black community.

“Growing up in a lot of the communities I was in, I was stereotyped to look and act a certain way. Which in the Black community is something that we go through constantly,” he said. “So, being truly 100% myself and still managing to be entertaining to people, I feel like it creates an uplifting environment for anybody wanting to try social media.”

Other creators on the list include Grammy-nominated musical artist Victoria Monet (@victoriamonet), home chef Daven Gates (@onestopchop) and Olamide Olowe (@topicals), who is a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and the founder of her own beauty brand, Topicals.

“Black creativity is boundless and we are proud to celebrate the brilliance of our Black community with this year's Visionary Voices list,” Shavone Charles, TikTok’s global head of diversity and inclusion communications, told Yahoo News via email. “From making waves across industries, to advocating for Black voices, our visionary #BlackTikTok community continues to elevate Black creativity and drive industry-shifting influence on and off of TikTok.”

Zahra Hassan (@misswondroussoul), a teacher from Toronto who also appears on the list, brands herself as “not your average teacher” and is making waves in the education space with her content. Hassan often uses fashion and trending TikTok sounds to redefine what it looks like to be a Black woman in education.

“REDEFINING PROFESSIONALISM,” commented @plurawl.

“LOVE this!!! Love and gratitude from a Gen Z teacher!” replied @christina19971.

“As a diverse woman and teacher, the journey on TikTok has been particularly meaningful,” Hassan told Yahoo News via email. “The overwhelming support I've received since the beginning echoes the importance of healing my inner child who once longed for a teacher like myself.”

Hassan’s sense of style is more than a form of self-expression. It’s a tool she uses to help bring her classroom together and one that she feels is a building block for how she teaches.

“Embracing my unique sense of style has allowed me to authentically express myself in the classroom. Creating an environment where students feel a sense of belonging is fundamental to my teaching philosophy,” she said. “Through my fashion choices, I aim to break down traditional norms and inspire students to be true to themselves, fostering an inclusive atmosphere where diversity is not only acknowledged but celebrated.”

In addition to these 15 Black creators, there are numerous others who have done similar work when it comes to building a relationship with their audience and creating a lane for themselves and Black TikTokers alike.