In the past few years, we’ve witnessed Black influencers not only become the leaders of content creation in the digital age but also able to inspire the demand for societal changes we desire through apps like TikTok.
The uptick of the social media platform’s position, amongst others like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, has been raised during both a global health crisis and the continued mass protests to condemn systemic racism and inequalities in America and around the world.
With more than 1 billion active users who call the platform home, there have been numerous standout Black TikTok influencers who have literally changed the game. TikTok has become a beacon for content creators whose videos have made inroads into the public consciousness and demonstrated the beauty of the Black mind.
This reigns true for artists like Chlöe Bailey, whose debut solo single “Have Mercy” has inspired the likes of @TheCharlesNiko to create a dance trend before the song was ever released to the public. The same can be said for Jalaiah Harmon, the creator of the massively viral “Renegade” challenge, and for Kahlil Greene, whose “Gen-Z History Lessons” educates users — young and washed alike — about Black culture, forgotten history, and the continued legacy of appropriation on- and off-line.
Black TikTok creators and trendsetters are behind many of the biggest trends and hits of the past five or so years. Every time someone logs on, their talent, originality, and effort shine over the rest and has been directly responsible for shaping this new-age pop culture world we live in.
With that said, this list is to spotlight those who have broken the mold and make the “for you” and “explore” pages on your favorite social media services all the better.
Enjoy and hit that follow button right after reading this piece!
Followers: 1.2 million
Likes: 39.7 million
After building a name out for himself on TikTok in 2019, @JuucyJ, also known as Jason Williams, connected with a collective of dancers known as Phantom X and became associated with the Mashup Dance, which has grown into a trend all its own. Known as one of the coolest dancers and as part of the self-proclaimed “Best Dancing Group on TikTok,” Yung Juce is a name to add to your followers’ list ASAP.
Followers: 1.2 million
Likes: 19.4 million
Who would’ve thought the youth would show their love for Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten”? Well, thank @Rony_Boyy for that. As one of the most popular influencers on TikTok, Ronald Michel has been on the service since it was called Musical.ly, and is the brainchild behind the “Esco Challenge”. The dance, which is performed over Esco Up and Shawn P’s “Like Yhop X Unwritten,” samples the 2004 song and proves that these kids are creative AF.
Followers: 3.2 million
Likes: 67.5 million
Keara Wilson, also known as Queen Keke and @Keke.Janajah on TikTok, is the creator and choreographer behind the “Savage Dance” Challenge. Her post quickly went viral and yet, despite its popularity, left the soon-to-be 21-year-old’s name out of conversations when it came time to give credit. As Black TikTokers took to strike earlier this year over the offense, Keara has joined other creators and renowned choreographer JaQuel Knight to secure copyright for their work. This Ohio star is one to follow as she is real-life history-in-the-making.
Followers: 2.9 million
Likes: 38 million
Even if you aren’t on TikTok, you’ve likely seen the #RenegadeChallenge or heard of its controversy. Jalaiah Harmon’s dance for K Camp’s “Lottery (Renegade)” went viral in 2019 and instantly went viral, but she didn’t get credit for creating the dance until 2020. The New York Times, Seventeen, and Teen Vogue all covered the theft, and Jalaiah has gone on to appear at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game and dance alongside Scooby-Doo to promote the animated film, Scoob!. This young legend should make anyone’s follower list!
Followers: 3.9 million
Likes: 61.3 million
There have been a lot of accidents that have gone viral, but none as cool as the “Stormae Alors on Danse” Challenge. Usim Mango, who had already gained popularity for posting his cooler-than-thou videos, became an insta-star thanks to his video featuring him and his friends dancing through the simple routine. Since then, Usim and his crew continue to post popular videos that make everyone and their friends want to join in with them.
Kevin L. Clark is an editor and screenwriter who covers the intersection of music, pop culture, and social justice. Follow him @KevitoClark.