The world in which we live is ever-evolving. As a black man, I remain aware of my culture’s influence on pop culture and the world at large. The presence and impact of people of color are undeniably prominent, from Hollywood to our everyday lives.
Social media has grown into the most powerful avenue for such influence. These four black artists have made a massive impact in their work, and continue to inspire and empower their fans, followers and audiences alike.
Zendaya’s child star beginnings on Disney Channel program Shake It Up don’t entirely reflect her impact a mere two years later. A social media powerhouse, the artist is growing into her role is a positive role model to black girls everywhere.
Taking on controversial subjects and tackling them through social media feeds for all to see, Zendaya often faces scrutiny for her biracial identity and speaking out about race. Her mission appears to be one of bringing a whole new attitude to the young black female social media user and illustrating how to build oneself as empowered, outspoken and intelligent. With nearly 40 million followers on Instagram, it’s obvious people are listening and watching her next move.
With a wide array of films under his belt like Ride Along, Think Like a Man, Secret Life of Pets and The Wedding Ringer, we all remember the groundbreaking stand-up comedy performance that Kevin Hart gave on Laugh at My Pain that quickly accelerated him to stardom. The North Philadelphia native has now used his star power and takes over channels everywhere. Hart’s message through social is one highly focused on personal success and growth.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) November 3, 2016
With his own Nike signature shoe, appropriately called the Hustle Harts, coupled with inspirational, fitness and life goal-oriented messaging, and with follower numbers up in the 10s of millions across his social platforms, it looks like that hustle is paying off.
Black people have always played a major role in trendsetting and establishing new norms. Balmain is one of, if not the biggest, fashion brands of the past two years, and the creative director and brainchild of this success is a Black French man by the name of Olivier Rousteing.
Rousteing’s social media not only boosted Balmain relevance and revenue—he also broke records in the French fashion world and put Balmain in the forefront in all fashion. This is thanks to collaborations with celebrities like Kanye West and Beyoncé and through H&M exclusive lines. Olivier is doing a great job socially and creatively—his Instagram currently holds four million followers. Balmain’s Instagram holds six million followers and a feed full of celebrities sporting their looks.
Rousteing’s work lays evidence that the fashion world is not, and should not, remain held by gatekeepers of any creed, race or otherwise.
Chance the Rapper
On the heels of his huge three wins at the Grammy Awards, there is no better time to get to know Chance the Rapper. A native of South Side Chicago, Chance’s music sheds light of hope and healing, while remaining relevant and unsigned by a record label. He often hosts “Open Mike” where he curates well-known Chicago figures to speak to the youth.
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) January 31, 2017
His feed usually consists of Chicago-based movements or his family, ushering in themes of personal responsibility and family loyalty. With three million people following Lil Chano from 79th, his message of hope and positivity shines over us all.
This is a new world. With that comes new influencers for the youth. Kevin, Zendaya, Olivier, Chance and more have the master key to make a real difference—especially through social media. Spreading positivity and empowerment are exactly what youth of all backgrounds need.
They grasp the concept of fame as an outlet and platform, and what they do with it matters and impacts our culture, from now and through the unseen future.