Since Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook and its entities would fall under an entirely new handle in 2021, movers and shakers in all things Black are creating a melting pot of Black excellence within the digital avatar space.
Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn, associate professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, has explored the intersection of Blackness and emerging technologies in her research, defining the metaverse as a “translation of the physical world into the digital space,” often by “people who are not us and who don’t look like us,” according to Penn GSE News.
“If we don’t imagine, who’s doing it for us? Whose imagination and reality are we living in?” she asked during a previous talk.
Today, the Black metaverse is building its legacy upon a platform responsible for disproportionately harming Black users, according to several reports. From overzealous regulations of Facebook posts by Black users to racial profiling, people of color are experiencing racism and sexism in the virtual world, too.
Shortly after the launch of the metaverse, several sources have echoed these arguments about this next-generation internet, dubbed the metaverse. One outlet highlights algorithms’ role in “making decisions on who gets to see what content or how images are interpreted,” explaining that they “suffer from racial and gender biases.”
In response, Facebook has taken measures to resolve the “complicated issues” of DEI in technology, including broadening access to the metaverse for users and creators and updating its ad targeting categories to no longer include “ethnic affinities.”
Here are a few examples of how Black visionaries of the metaverse are changing the digital game with their gifts, talents, and passions.
Black women in the metaverse
It can be argued that Meta has fostered a poor relationship with Black users on its Facebook platform, particularly with Black women.
But boss ladies like the CEO of Sara Belay Inc., Sara “Lovestyle” Hood, are defying the conventions of a system that is arguably correlated with racism. Recently, Hood announced her ownership of the Houston Hyenas in David J. Ortiz’s SimWin Sports, a sports league in the metaverse, BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported.
Reportedly, Ortiz’s digital sports league is the first operation in the world to sell professional sports franchises as NFTs.
Passing on knowledge, cementing roots
A Black professor is taking education to greater heights on a platform riddled with censorship and bias in algorithms.
In the spirit of Black History Month, students at Morehouse College in Atlanta will have the opportunity to enter the virtual 3-D space to experience the lives of enslaved African Americans, as told in a story by BLACK ENTERPRISE. Led by professor Ovell Hamilton, this first-of-its-kind Black history course will be taught entirely in the metaverse.
Preserving culture and entertainment
In a commitment to develop and showcase talent in the Global South, Africa’s largest telco, MTN, has recently pulled off its first-ever African concert in the Metaverse, featuring some of the brightest rising stars from the award-winning TBTM flagship series, The Mic: Africa.
Thanks to TBTM (Take Back the Mic) Studios’ production work, The Mic: Africa in the Metaverse Concert invites audiences on a ride through fantastical and vibrant virtual worlds and soulful live-action performances.