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YouTube and Representation: Media Game Changer

Transracial Adoptee and Multiracial
July 2, 2018 Marina Mantos University of California-Irvine

When I was first approached to write for the MRKC Blog I wanted to discuss multiracial/interracial representation in media. I was going to talk about the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and the Disney Channel show Andi Mack but then I went to VidCon. If you don’t know what VidCon is, it’s a 4-night 3-day event for those who create, engage, and enjoy online video content held in Anaheim, CA. There are 3 tracks to choose from to get a pass for at VidCon: Industry, Creator, and Community, and about 30,000 people attended this year. Let me tell you, VidCon is an experience, and while I went to VidCon for fun I was able to take time to think about the impact online media can have on society and higher education.

A large population of attendees at VidCon are 12-18 years old, they are our future students and they have grown up with information at their fingertips courtesy of the internet. They have also grown up with access to online video content and media that is outside mainstream television and movies. In mainstream media we still struggle to see multiracial/interracial actors, characters and storylines, if we do see those characters they are usually viewed as ‘racially ambiguous’ or ‘exotic’. While those storylines exist in online media there is so much more out there on multiraciality, and there are content creators that take time to discuss multiraciality. Some of the creators that I see talking about multiraciality include: Liza Koshy, LauraDIY, Safiya Nygaard and Ashly Perez, the latter two being former BuzzFeed producers. To have content creators talking about their identities whether it be in personal vlogs or creating larger videos exploring the experiences of multiracial individuals, it is something that we aren’t seeing in mainstream media and we need to celebrate and share it.

Earlier I mentioned that two multiracial content creators used to work for BuzzFeed, a large online presence that not only creates videos but articles, quizzes, and other content that is popular in today’s society. While I was at VidCon I was able to see a few panels by BuzzFeed producers, the most relevant to this blog being a panel by PeroLike, a channel created to support the Latinx community and discuss topics within the community. During the panel they mentioned that one area of content they are building out is multiraciality in the Latinx community and fighting colorism and microaggressions multiracial Latinx individuals face. Having done videos on being AfroLatinx, they plan to push some context on API-Latinx cultures within the next few months. To see BuzzFeed taking on these topics and using online media to educate a large audience makes me wonder how is higher education adopting this change in educational outreach? Are we adopting a new online approach or are we sticking with our same program equations we’ve used for years?

As I end close out this Multiracial Monday Blog, I encourage you all to take time to look up some  multiracial online content creators to see what they are doing. I also encourage everyone to look at how you are consuming online media and then ask other students and staff members how they are engaging with online media. If you’re seeing a difference in what your students are doing, take a look at it and see what they are seeing. Also take the time to explore the newest updates on the apps you use; IGTV from Instagram could be a great place to start doing some online content education, YouTube could be a great place to create a vlog and talk about your experiences in life. Online media content will continue to evolve, become more diverse, and if we are going to keep up with the newest generations we need to embrace it and make the most of what we are given with it.

Marina Mantos is the Assistant Director for Greek Life at UC Irvine and is the MRKC Co-Chair Elect. She focused her graduate research on multiracial student experiences at a PWI, and hopes to continue research on multraciality in the future.