What i’ve discovered this week [again!] is that i do not understand the internet.
3 months ago, i started filming short videos for a series titled ‘Race with me’ in which i address the question that many white people – specifically in South Africa – are asking, once they have realised race is an issue that needs to be engaged with and say, “But what can I do?”
This series of videos was actually inspired by a previous series i ran on my blog that was really successful, titled ’40 Tips for white people asking: But what can I do?’ Which itself started as a daily tip shared to Facebook as a status with a new practical idea every day. This resulted in a summary of the 40 tips post which you can see here, which is one of the top three posts on my blog ever with close to 9000 views.
This became the basis for a book i started writing in the Philippines at the beginning of this year pre-pandemic which was going to be titled ’50 Ideas for white people asking: But what can I do?’ Which i have mostly finished and am just needing a publisher for.
The strength of this book – and now this video series – is that it tells a much better story than the original 40 tips post. Every day i would simply think of a new tip i thought might be helpful and post it as a status and so they weren’t as connected and didn’t build on each other as much as this new series does. So i definitely believe this series is a lot more powerful and has more to offer.
As it is quite tough for a new author [have self-published a book called ‘i, church’ a few years ago] to get published and as it felt like these ideas were needed right now, i decided to make a short series of videos ranging from about 6 to 13 minutes to share one idea at a time.
Understanding the Internet
This is where it all gets a little confusing.
i started posting the videos and they were getting between 10 and 20 hits on YouTube. Which feels quite small when you are going to a lot of work to film and edit and upload and share. So i was a little bit disappointed. But with the idea that they are available and people can discover them later, i carried on making them and the hits stayed pretty constant.
Then a mate of mine, Terence Mentor, who you can find online making amazing dad parenting videos as Afrodaddy [@TerenceMentor on the Twitterer and @AfrodaddyCT on Instagram] suggested sharing the videos on IGTV or Instagram TV which i had never done before and didn’t know all too much about. So i shared my first video as an IGTV post and it racked up 200 views pretty quickly [and is now sitting on 569 or so] which is still not a lot of views given that my original series touched around 9000, but when you’re getting 10-20 views per video it is definitely a step up. So i still post the videos to YouTube but the main focus has been presenting them on Instagram where they have continued to average around 250 views.
This is where it gets confusing though. This week i created video #21 which probably touches on the most controversial i have been in these videos as i speak about the notion of South Africa as a black country, which i imagine a bunch of white people might struggle with.
Within a day this video has passed 200 views. On YouTube. Where the views for the previous ten videos if you added them together were about that.
And i have absolutely no idea why. It’s not like it was a significantly better video than the rest. And it’s not like i saw anyone sharing it more than any of the others. Which is the internet for you. And i am super grateful, because the more people who discover this series, hopefully, the more movement will be being made as people take these ideas on and hopefully things start to change.
There was also a larger jump in subscribers yesterday. Now i have had a YouTube channel for about ten years and have just over 150 subscribers, so clearly that is not my medium. But i had about 118 when i started the series and so it has gradually been attracting new people. Who are sticking around for more. So that’s been super encouraging.
If you’ve read this then the biggest help you can be to me is to share the links when you see them – or share this post on your social medias which has links to the first ten videos and topics in the series and might be a good way for new people to jump in.
We will keep having the conversations and continue to invite white people to engage and listen and learn and change. There is so much work to be done in South Africa still, but the more of us who are writing and speaking and sharing and #NotOnOurWatch’ing, the more impact we will have.
So keep on! And thanks for taking the time to read this!
[For the post on the first ten ways to actively do things about race in South Africa, click here]