Facebook has launched We the Culture, a new content initiative created and managed by a team of Black employees that is investing in and amplifying content from Black creators.
The company announced an inaugural class of over 120 creators for We the Culture, including Danielle Young, Lauren “Lolo” Spencer (“Sitting Lolo”), Cameron J. Henderson, Lazarus Lynch, SkateLyfe Co. (Chad Harrell), Nneka Irobunda, Dominic Grizzelle (Griztriz), Kellie Brown (“And I Get Dressed”), and Shelcy and Christy Joseph (NYCxClothes).
The initiative also incorporates programming for Facebook Watch through partnerships with production companies focused on Black creatives, and among the first shows are “Chop It Up” with Storm Reid, “Asking for a Friend” with Vanessa Simmons, and “Mastery of Comedy” with Angela Yee.
We the Culture grew out of Facebook’s announcement last summer — following the murder of George Floyd — that it would invest $200 million to support Black-owned businesses and organizations, including $25 million earmarked for Black content creators.
Of course, for a company the size of Facebook, that’s a rounding error. But Dan Reed, VP of global media, sports and equity partnerships, said Facebook’s investment in diverse creators and communities has exceeded that and is an ongoing commitment. “It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re enabling equal outcomes for all communities,” Reed said.
In addition to financial support for Black creators, Facebook’s We the Culture will provide partner management support, educational and training resources, marketing support, and audience development.
We the Culture will celebrate voices from the Black community via social channels across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, spanning music, art, poetry, food and more. It’s intended to serve as “a launch point for black creators,” Reed said. He added, “We have a lot to do, and this is just the beginning.”
Actor and creator Storm Reid (“A Wrinkle in Time,” “12 Years a Slave”) said that when she and her mom created A Seed & Wings Productions, their goal was “to further narratives that forge multicultural conversations, amplify Black voices, entertain and educate.”
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Facebook on their We the Culture program because we’re completely aligned in our messaging,” Reid said. Their first show, “Chop It Up,” is “a conversation series where I talk with my friends about things that matter to us and issues that are currently impacting our world. Investing in diversified voices is more crucial than ever, and we look forward to continuing these discussions while having fun along the way.”
In early 2020, Facebook’s content partnership group established dedicated teams to focus on supporting and strengthening support for creators serving Black and Latinx communities, Reed said. That’s in addition to several other Facebook accelerator programs, including the SEEN Black filmmakers program. Facebook also runs GAPP, a growth accelerator program providing about a dozen digital media organizations — including All Def, The Source, and Atlanta Black Star — with tools, education, and resources to achieve “sustained success on our platforms,” according to Reed.
All Def Digital, the hip-hop, comedy and culture content brand founded by Russell Simmons, has operated under the ownership of startup Culture Genesis for a little over a year. Culture Genesis’ investors include Betaworks, Mucker Capital, Japan’s AET Fund and individual investors like T.I.
CEO Cedric J. Rogers said All Def has over 15 million viewers and its content pulls in over 600 million video views monthly. He credits Facebook’s program as helping the company learn and share best practices for content production and distribution.
“One of the outcomes Facebook wants is for everyone to grow together,” Rogers said. “All the platforms are looking at how they can work better with Black creators, but Facebook in particular has been very clear about their strategy in rolling out programs. Their investment is stronger than others.”
Watch the sizzle reel for Facebook’s We the Culture: