TikTok, Decolonization, and You

If you’re going to dive into TikTok, you might as well try to do some good in the world.

Addressing the settler-colonist that lives inside us can be difficult, emotional work. And the more I dive into the steep learning curves of decolonization, the more I realize that it is unfair to expect affected communities—Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour among others—to do the heavy lifting for us. It’s simply not fair to call upon your co-workers, friends, or social media acquaintances who happens to come from these communities, and expect them to educate us on request. It’s a habit we need to break.

Fortunately, there are some great resources out there to help settlers like me learn more. And while I have been really reluctant to add another set of social media to my life, I took a deep breath and plunged into the world of TikTok a few months ago.

Should you join TikTok?

Honestly, I can’t fully endorse it. It is addictive. More than any other social media, TikTok will turn your brain to mush. It is an endless high-rotation stream of drama, outrage, and soft porn in equal measure.

That said, TikTok is also genuinely educational. It is an incredible tool for people from oppressed communities to make their voices heard. Indigenous TikTok, in particular, is on fire.

So if you’re going to jump into the never-ending rabbit hole that is TikTok, you might as well use it as a tool for good. Here are some creators that I follow as I learn more about decolonization.

(Note: these embedded TikToks may take some time to load; thanks for your patience.)

@kweenwerk

#duet with @spacemomsdaughter Thank you

♬ original sound – O

For those who are new to the TikTok, this is an example of duetting. The video on the left by @spacemomsdaughter is a standalone video. Here, the person on the right, @kweenwerk, has chosen to endorse and amplify it by creating a duet for her own followers.

Kweenwerk is an activist and educator specializing in outdoor accessibility for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour). She is also a professional interpreter and happens to be VP Programs for the National Association for Interpretation. Kweenwerk is going places and I think you should follow her.

@kweenwerk

However you choose to enjoy nature is valid! With or without a field guide. #environmentaleducation #naturalist

♬ original sound – 👑 Kween werK 👑

Jessie Loyer

Jessie Loyer (@indigenouslibrian) is an Indigenous librarian and professor who talks about ways of organizing Indigenous knowledge. Honestly I didn’t know Indigenous librarianship was a thing but it’s absolutely fascinating and makes so much sense.

Lance Tsosie

@modernwarrior1 produces videos that are smart and challenging, mostly on Indigenous themes.

Martin Heavyhead Jr

@martinheavyhead talks about a variety of subjects including residential schools. Here you see a common TikTok genre where the content creator chooses to respond to a comment with a video reply.

Amahle Ntshinga

@amahlentshinga is from South Africa and talk about race and gender, among other things. Here they do a ‘stitch’ video which is like a duet but where they attach a video as a response to another.

Chelazon Leroux

@chelazonleroux is a comedian, performer, model, and educator who creates content on Indigenous and two-spirit themes. So when I need a timeline cleanse, I go to this channel. So good.

https://www.tiktok.com/@chelazonleroux/video/6976373283868445958?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id6994454218179724805

Let the viewer beware

Like other social media, TikTok is many things to many people, and while it can be a tool for education and enlightenment, it is also a tool for defamation, oppression, and radicalization—just like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Below is a troubling video about a brief survey that disinformation researcher Abbie Richards did. You should watch it.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for the above suggestions! When used with a critical eye and intention, social media can be an amazing resource for finding educators and the movers and shakers in the world of anti-racism, anti-bias work.

    It also provides some pretty amazing videos of dance routines and cats 😀

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