Tik-Tok is a growing platform that has become a large part of today’s societal culture. It has allowed many individuals to inspire, influence, and educate the public. One Tik-Tok influencer that has strived to inform and encourage the public through her content is Taylor Cassidy.
Taylor originally joined Tik-Tok to support the increasing popularity of her friend’s videos. However, she soon came to believe that Tik-Tok was not the same as the platform’s predecessor, also known as Musical.ly. Since then, Cassidy has been an active user and has gained massive attention through her channel (@taylorcassidyj).
Cassidy’s videos go beyond the usual content found on Tik-Tok. Rather than endless viral dances or harmful pranks, Cassidy uses her channel to spread positivity, self-love, and educate her viewers about the importance of Black History. From Nina Simone, Alex Haley, and the Black Panther Party to the origination of the durag, Taylor Cassidy teaches the social media community about the meaning and true significance behind black culture.
The Teen Magazine was given the opportunity to talk with this inspiring young woman about being a positivity and Black History content creator and a social media influencer among many teenagers and young adults.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned since starting your account?
"I’ve learned how much of an impact speaking the truth can make. Not the number of followers, likes, or comments, but how big of a difference it makes in even one person’s day. Even if my content doesn’t get those big numbers that other accounts get, I’ve learned that as long as I put in value and love, I know that someone is going to be encouraged; I am content with that."
Do you ever feel pressured by the media to act a certain way?
"About two years, I was heavily on Instagram, trying to perfect my feed. While it was fun, it got to the point where I worried about my “social media image” rather than staying true to myself. I remember spending that year asking myself whether I was expressing myself online, or was I letting social media define me. I learned that while the media constantly favors “going viral” and “getting hype", if I didn’t stay true to myself, none of it is worth it."
Have you faced any difficulties as an influencer on this platform because you are a person of color? How so?
"That’s a big yes. While social media has come a long way in terms of respecting people of color, there are still users out there who make it a hobby to bring people of color down for no reason. Specifically, I remember on my birthday this year, I decided to go live on Tik-Tok. I had never gone live before, but I wanted to express my gratitude for hitting 100k. About halfway through the live stream up until the end, an account repeatedly commented the N-word over and over with no context. I tried to ignore it, mostly because I didn’t know how to block him over live, but afterward, I felt defeated. It was like it didn’t matter what positivity I emitted or how hard I worked; I would always be limited to just another (insert N-word here) to a great sum of people."
What is one of the hardest or most stressful parts of being an influencer?
"Staying grounded in what you as an influencer value is a great task to be disciplined in. There is great pressure to keep up with trends and avoid being “irrelevant”. It takes great practice to remind yourself that as long as you make content that makes you happy, you are relevant."
What is the best part of being an influencer?
"I absolutely love meeting the people who watch my content. Whether it be through Instagram or Tik-Tok, it’s so amazing to share my humor and positivity with people like me. If I didn’t have the amazing community surrounding my account, being a content creator would be very difficult."
What messages do you want young adults to get from your content?
"When someone watches my video, my goal is for them to leave either with a smile on their face, or a new piece of education in their mind. My purpose is to get young adults to see the beauty and value in themselves before they try to compare to someone else. There is so much joy in loving who you are, and I want everyone to have it."
In your videos, you seem very confident. What tips would you give teenagers and young adults trying to grow their self-esteem?
"Do it afraid. If there is something you love or want, do it in spite of yourself. Growth is never comfortable; when growing your self-esteem, there will be many times where it’s hard and awkward, but those take those moments and learn about yourself from them. If you have an embarrassing moment, do not diminish yourself. I used to do this all the time, but over the years I learned that it takes less and a better energy to move on. Clothing choices, embarrassing moments, etc. are only as embarrassing as you make them. If everyone laughs at you or talks badly behind your back, what’s the use in agreeing with them? If no one else uplifts you, uplift yourself first."
“I’ve learned how much of an impact speaking the truth can make. Not the number of followers, likes, or comments, but how big of a difference it makes in even one person’s day. Even if my content doesn’t get those big numbers that other accounts get, I’ve learned that as long as I put in value and love, I know that someone is going to be encouraged; I am content with that.”
All of your videos portray you as such a visibly energetic and confidant woman of color. How did you gain such a positive viewpoint?
"It had always been a goal of mine to have not just a positive mindset, but inner joy. The turning point was last year when I went through a period where God started showing me things in my life I had never noticed before. I started making it a priority to express gratefulness for everything like a clear blue sky, smelling a home-cooked meal after school, breathing without having a stuffy nose, etc. It was only when I allowed the beautiful small parts of my day to overcome the negative things that soon, it became a natural lifestyle."
Do you think it is important to spread positivity throughout social media? How can people use social media to spread positivity?
"I believe that social media can be a great tool to encourage and overpower the vast amount of hate. I think that people can spread positivity by sharing posts that uplift others. If they want to create their own, I say start with something they genuinely believe in. People can spot fake happiness, but one does not always need a big personality to spread joy in their life."
What are some ways and habits you think may help someone maintain a mentally and physically positive and healthy relationship with social media?
"For me, I’ve chosen to turn off select app’s notifications. The app will always be there, and you won’t be missing anything. I have even placed select social media apps on a completely different page of my iPhone so that it isn’t in my view when I first open my home screen. Something else I do is place my phone across the room at night, making sure not to sit in my bed with it. If I want to scroll through an app, I must stand up until I’m done. These things remind me that social media, while a big part of my life, is not the definition of it."
A lot of your content deals with Black History. What inspired you to make these videos?
"I’ve always loved Black history since I was a little girl. My parents made it a priority for me to learn my history. At the beginning of February, I wanted to share Black history in a way that showed people how fun and beautiful it can be. However, I know that education is not the first thing one thinks of the binge on a Saturday night. I thought, “Well what if it’s super-fast so that people won’t have an excuse to avoid learning?” And thus, Fast Black History was born! Even after it ended, I still enjoy showing people how relevant Black History is in our daily lives."
If you had to choose one specific person to be your hero from Black History, who would it be? Why?
"Ooh! That’s hard! If I had to choose someone, I really admire Ida B. Wells. She was a Black journalist reporting on the lynching of African Americans in the 1800s. Sadly, her business was burnt down in hate. I admire her because although her circumstances pointed to death for speaking out, she did it anyway, and opened up a crucial conversation."
Since the beginning of this nationwide quarantine, many young adults have been struggling with social distancing. Do you have tips about how to cope with the situation?
"Give yourself time to grieve. Many people are losing or have lost several things. However, remember that life will go on and beautiful things are still in the future. While in quarantine, make it a priority to stick to a schedule and plan things to look forward to in your day. Take this time to meditate, journal, and reflect on yourself and how you have grown."
Cassidy’s goal for the future is to continue to educate and uplift. But most importantly, she strives to change how people see social media.
“I don’t know how, but I want to start a revolution. I want to flip the notion of gaining clout, into one of creating change. I want to make revolutionary, purposeful content that creates progress. I also wouldn’t mind a Black History TV Show.”
Cassidy has extended her content beyond Tik-Tok. You can find her on Instagram (@taylorcassidyj) and YouTube (Taylor Cassidy)
Thank you Taylor Cassidy for being so authentic and showing all of us that Black truly is beautiful.