As Madison previously mentioned in our last blog post, every Saturday of Black History Month we will be featuring some of our favorite black content creators on Youtube! I came up with the idea as a way to showcase some highly talented content creators that the algorithm may be hiding from you. In all honesty, some of the best Youtube content that I've seen lately has come from young black creators. What I've appreciated the most is how substantive these videos are. I am always impressed with the amount of research, creativity, and thoughtfulness that goes into each production, and in all honesty, 4 weeks is not enough time to showcase all of our faves!
This week I am so excited to share one of my new favorite creators Khadija Mbowe! I stumbled upon her content through my recommended videos and was immediately intrigued. Khadija is truly "a cool, fun, millennial aunty"; nurturing, educating, and entertaining us at the same damn time! Below are a few of my absolute favorite videos. Check out her content and subscribe to her channel for more.
Why do all these influencers have the same face?
As social media has become an integral part of our daily lives for over a decade, we have slowly begun to see a transformation in the standards of beauty. Pop-culture and celebrity idols have always dictated the latest trends, but with the rise of filters and accessibility to minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, more people are taking their “glow up” to new heights. In this video, Kadija covers the socio-cultural phenomenon known as “Instagram face” and how impressionable we have all become due to unrealistic beauty standards. With the help of social media algorithms centered around “collaborative filtering” as opposed to diversifying your feed, most of us wind up in an endless scroll of images (in this case people) that look the same! Not to mention the fact that ironically 85% of board-certified surgeons and 77% of the tech workforce are men. This not so subtle nod to the grip of patriarchy is what ties this whole video together for me. I always found it personally fascinating that the male gaze played such a heavy role in the plastic surgery world but, it’s chilling to see just how pervasive it is in general. Conclusively it seems that ultimately our engagement with technology does have an impact on how we view ourselves but by creating boundaries out of self-awareness, we can live more grounded lives in reality.
For the boys?
“Toxic masculinity” has become a popularized catch-all phrase for all bad male behavior, but what does it even mean anymore? In this video, Khadija thoughtfully breaks down the male plight of performative masculinity as a direct result of patriarchal standards. More specifically, she dives into several key components to the creation of toxic male behavior and categorizes them into chapters ranging from relationships with parents to romance and codependency. This video rejects the romanticized myth of male power and poses idea’s around true power being attained through self-control, not through brute force, dominance, and violence. Ultimately Khadija asks us, women, to have empathy for men. After all, how can we ask men to be emotionally available to us when all their lives they’ve been conditioned to believe that anything remotely effeminate is considered weak? We have all heard the phrase “man up” or “men don’t cry” but, we never think about the impact it has on a developing child trying to navigate through their emotions. After watching this video I walked away with a different perspective as to who was at fault for this social construct. The truth is we have all played a role in invaliding the emotions of men, and we should normalize men being able to express either range of emotions fully.
Beethoven, why he gotta be Black?
“Did you know Beethoven was black?” My sister asked me once as we headed out for our daily neighborhood walk. Caught by surprise I responded in disbelief. It wasn’t the notion of Beethoven being black that seemed impossible to me, it was more so the fact that I had never heard this before. Immediately I was led down a rabbit hole of information that ended inconclusively. This only resulted in me being even more curious as to why it wasn’t more widely broadcasted if true, and where the speculation even started anyway? In this video, Khadija breaks down the speculation* in Beethoven’s ethnic identity definitively. Through extensive research, she points to movements by black artists, musicologists, and intellectuals that pushed this narrative to validate black contributions with quintessential genius. In a time when your skin color and ethnic makeup were synonymous with intelligence, this type of rhetoric and propaganda uplifted the black collective as it appeared to be a direct representation of our brilliance. In actuality, Beethoven is not black, but as Khadija concludes, this doesn't negate black people’s contributions to classical music or just music in general. As she begins to list the contributions to classical music made by actual black people I was reminded that it is our duty to uplift these people so they can receive the same level of recognition as some of their white counterparts. For me, Beethoven not being black isn’t that disappointing. The truth is; the resilience, creativity, and intuitive ability of blackness have always allowed us to prevail in these spaces and it is through our adversities that we defy societal expectations.
Every video that Khadija creates is such a valuable resource. It blows me away that someone would take that amount of time to create in-depth content thanklessly (and oftentimes for free). This is why Madison and I agreed that this year our platform should be used to shed light on black creators that deserve more recognition. We hope that you have enjoyed our features this month and tune in for our next 2 installments. If you enjoyed Khadija's content be sure to follow her on Youtube & Instagram for more!