Sup reddit! Long-time Redditor here. I'm a video producer and animator for act.tv.
Last year I made a video called Systemic Racism Explained, that in the last 24-48 hours has been shared widely on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. by lots of celebrities. The Facebook version alone currently has 18 million views. I feel grateful to have made something that can contribute positively to the conversation.
Proof: YouTube Video description says my Reddit username and AMA time.https://youtu.be/YrHIQIO_bdQProof #2: (My Twitter account holding up a sign):https://twitter.com/AlexCequea/status/1268561909839794176
Edit: Thanks for all the questions everybody! These are important topic to discuss and work through as a society. I'm off, but I might come back later to answer any questions I might have missed!
Facebook version of video shared by Occupy Democrats:https://www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats/videos/2745923945630356/
***Proof of some of the celebrity shares:Share of Instagram version of video by Viola Davis:https://www.instagram.com/p/CA9LyigBdjT/
Share on Twitter by Kim Kardashian:https://twitter.com/KimKardashian/status/1268342478094073856
Share on Instagram by Snoop Dogg:https://www.instagram.com/p/CA-nzSogGyr/
Share on Twitter by Alyssa Milano:https://twitter.com/Alyssa_Milano/status/1268308848240029698
What part of the process is the most difficult for you?
I think writing a good story that explains a difficult topic clearly and in under 5 minutes, is by far the most difficult. Anyone can learn to draw and move things around visually. But condensing complex information into bitesized nuggets takes a lot of work. My favorite quote is "If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter."
Simplifying things is hard.
Is it still possible to share your sources or information you've used for the video or direct people to find it themselves?
All the sources are cited in the video itself (bottom left corner) anytime a stat or study is mentioned. In the past I've actually sent the same links to people who request it, but it's just impossible now with the sheer number of emails/messages.
Hi, Alex, I've seen your video countless times on pretty much every social media platform. I think it's done an excellent job at educating people. This video was made last year, and yet is going viral now. When did you notice that it was gaining traction? If you'd known it would be seen by so many people in such a critical time, is there anything about it that you'd do differently?
Hi and thanks! I noticed it was getting traction when my instagram started blowing up with people tagging me. Then friends started sending me links and messages that they'd seen a famous person share it. On Instagram it started with Viola Davis, then other celebrities picked it up from there.
If I'd known it would become relevant during this time, I would have loved to include some historical context around police violence. I think it's important for people to understand how far back this struggle goes for people of color in the US, and how much White Supremacy supporters have made it an explicit plan to infiltrate law enforcement at every level. That's actually the topic for my next video.
Hey Alex, let me preface this by saying that I believe you come from a good place and are honest in your intention to educate people. You and I are aligned in that we both want to help the black community prosper. That said I do have some pointed questions for you:
Why is Kevin in your video a rich kid, if he is supposed to represent the median white kid in the US? The median white household has a yearly income of 70k compared to 40k for black families and 87k for Asians, but for two parent black households the median income is actually 75k.
Don't you think it would help if you included some context for that number, such as the stats of single parent households by race that seem to explain the discrepancy?
70% ( it was less than 20% in the fifties) of black kids in the US today are born out of wedlock compared to 30% of white kids and 20% of Asians. Maybe it would've been more accurate to show Jamal living in a single parent household if the point was education?
Interesting how those numbers correspond to the median household wealth, and how as more black families split up, the less wealth a median black household has.
Is the fact that black men, 7% of the population commit 50% of the homicides in the US, vast majority of those intra-racial, (killing other black people) explained by systemic racism as well?
You seem to be in favor of working toward an equality of outcome as it pertains to race, meaning that, since median black households have less money, this is a symptom of systemic racism in the US and until those numbers are equal, systemic racism is the problem.
How do you square that with the fact that almost every population of immigrants that came to the US has had to suffer through different levels of oppression and stigmatization yet the Asians came out on top of even the oppressive whites by a wide margin?
The Chinese for example who were brought over as dirt cheap labor to build the rail roads, exploited and then ostracized in the US, to the point of banning new immigrants from China. The 90% male population, either forced to move back to China or accept that they would have no prospect of finding a partner in the racist USA, thousands simply aged and died alone.
Or the Japanese, who were put in prison camps in the US for over 3 years during WW2, and lost all their livelihoods and businesses. Asian Americans were also redlined but their share of national homeownership is now even with their share of the overall U.S. population.
And even today, Asian Americans suffer the exact kind of discrimination that you talk about blacks suffering in the sixties, where they are denied admission to elite colleges simply on the basis of their race.
If we accept that the only explanation for a success of a certain population is historical or systemic instead of cultural should we now try to suppress the Asian population even further until they match the average, or are whites being held down by systemic racism so they can't perform as well as their Asian compatriots?
I'll attempt to tackle these questions by acknowledging the most common misconception about people who talk about systemic racism: the misconception is that we're arguing for equality of outcome. Nope. We're arguing for equality of opportunity. And the fact that people don't understand that is what makes these discussions necessary.
The second misconception is generalizing that anyone that brings up racism, is saying that ALL problems someone has in life are due to racism. Of course that's not true. We're talking about probability, and what's more or less likely to happen.
Kevin and Jamal don't have the same opportunities, even though the have the same level of intelligence, and will work equally as hard throughout life. Assuming they work exactly as hard, Kevin will likely be about twice as successful as Jamal, mostly because of economics, and implicit bias. And before someone says "Aha! So this is an ECONOMIC problem, not a problem of racism," I'll clarify that the economic problem usually is a consequence of racism that happened 100+ years ago. I'm not even talking about how CURRENT racism is affecting economic opportunity.
"Is the fact that black men, 7% of the population commit 50% of the homicides in the US, vast majority of those intra-racial, (killing other black people) explained by systemic racism as well?" - I would say that yes. Racism keeps people trapped in poverty, and poverty and lack of education can lead to violence.
"You seem to be in favor of working toward an equality of outcome as it pertains to race, meaning that, since median black households have less money, this is a symptom of systemic racism in the US and until those numbers are equal, systemic racism is the problem." -I'm in favor of equality of opportunity. Show me schools that are staffed and resourced to the same level regardless of neighborhood wealth, and I would call that a crucial victory. What happens next is irrelevant, because all the kids can choose to take advantage of the opportunity, or not.
"How do you square that with the fact that almost every population of immigrants that came to the US has had to suffer through different levels of oppression and stigmatization yet the Asians came out on top of even the oppressive whites by a wide margin?" -This is a great question, and I honestly don't know the answer to that. Maybe the sheer size of Asians is creating a self-selection pattern, where we really only see the absolute hardest working immigrants? I would have to read up on some studies to get a clearer idea of what's happening.
"If we accept that the only explanation for a success of a certain population is historical or systemic instead of cultural should we now try to suppress the Asian population even further until they match the average, or are whites being held down by systemic racism so they can't perform as well as their Asian compatriots?" -See misconception #2. Systemic Racism isn't "the only" explanation for a success of a certain population. It just makes it more or less probable that you'll succeed, regardless of how hard, or how little you work.
Equality of opportunity. That's the entire issue.
Do you have any other videos that haven't gone viral yet, but should?
Which topic has been the hardest to write about?
CLIMATE CHANGE! Jesus christ, I have a few terrifying videos about what we're facing over the next 10, 20, 30 years, but none of them have gotten any traction. It's also the toughest topic to write about, because I like having hopeful endings, and there's just very little to be hopeful about.
Since this video did so well, what is your next goal for video explanations? Can we expect to see more like this?
I was working on a video about why Germany's Covid-19 death rate is so low, which will be out eventually. But since this topic is to timely, I've started working on a video explaining the history of police violence.
Ok, well this was a flop. I'll be around for most of the day. I'll check on this periodically to answer any questions for the few stragglers that haven't downvoted me to oblivion.
origin post 32mins ago
this post im replying to 10mins ago
'this was a flop'
if it doesnt succeed in 22mins its a fail?
Great video and explanation. Have you ever considered doing a video illustrating systemic sexism? Many of the biases women face mirror those of POC. Not being able to have credit in their own names until the 1970s, resumes with the same qualifications but a male name as opposed to female name getting more call-backs, the disparity in convictions and jail times between women who commit crimes against men and men who commit crimes against women, etc.
I will definitely consider making that, thank you for bringing it up!
A 3-4 minute video usually takes me anywhere from 60-100 hours from start to finish. A lot of that is research and writing a good script narrative.
Kim Kardashian, Alyssa Milano, and Snoop Dogg?
How did you manage to get the attention of so many intellectual giants at once?
I draw cartoons with bright colors.
Hey Alex! Do you have a team helping you create these videos or is it just you? Also, what software do you use to do the animation and art?
I do it all from beginning to end. Write, produce, illustrate, and animate. I also do the voiceover. Everything is written and drawn from scratch.
The video sounds like a good argument for gentrification. Increase those property values! ...but then blacks can’t afford rent. Isn’t this a catch 22?
Yes, that's why the problem is complex, and no single solution is THE solution.
Alex, just saw the video on Facebook and (curious who made it) found you and this AMA.
Were you working for ACT.tv at the time you made it? So was it paid work or a passion project in your free time? All done in After Effects?
Hey Alex! First of all, thank you so much for making such a factual and unemotional representation of the systems in place.
I'm worried though, that your solution is not enough. I see a fundamental mindset problem existing in, at least: police, government, military, that actively support this systemic racism even today. Look how many protests, across the whole country and other countries, across all different people, had to fight those groups just to get a 2nd degree murder charge for a murder that was literally caught on film.
My question is this: do you feel that changing the funding pattern for schools would bring about a widespread mindset change to .... Well, bring down the rest of the system of racism?
Thank you so much for the kind words!
I think that because it's a complex problem, several things need to happen at the same time. The funding issue would help to level the playing field. So no matter what your economic level, the children all have somewhat equal access to opportunity and resources. Ridding the police force of white nationalist ideology, that's a whole can of worms that's very tough to deal with. That's the type of problem that takes a generation to fix, but no better time to start than now. Also, and I don't remember where I heard this, but revolution sometimes happens like popcorn. It takes a while to heat up, and looks as if nothing is happening, then a critical mass hits and changes starts happening all over the place.
Whats your favorite dinosaur?
T-Rex, all the way! Those stubby little arms would look so funny with feathers.
We live in a time where misinformation rules, and unfortunately science and facts are becoming less and less important in regards to people formulating their opinion. Do you think your video could change some minds?
Thank you for your awesome work.
One of the interesting things I've learned making these videos, is that often the most enthusiastic shares come from people who already know the topic well, and use the video as a way to explain to their friends and family what they've been trying to communicate. It's a tool for them that simplifies a complex topic succinctly. So they're not really changing their own minds.
That means that "new" people, whose minds might be changed, are getting this info from people they know, which makes it more likely that they'll be receptive to the info. No one really goes searching for things that contradict their world views.
When you say systemic racism i assume your talking about things like affirmative action which penalizes asian people's test scores on college admission and boost black people's because of their race? Unless of course there's another law i don't know about that discriminates based on race.
No, I'm talking about Institutionalized Racism, which has an academic definition and historical context. It doesn't blame anyone, just lays out what happened, and how it affects us today.
Where can I get my can of Kardashian-approved Pepsi™ to do my part to end racism and rioting?
I believe the rioters drink coke, so this would not be an effective solution.
What is Act.tv?
It's a media company. We make online content in support of progressive causes, candidates, and events.
Where do we go from here?
To wherever we must. The great thing about change is that it's always happening. So, this too shall pass.
Why do these videos always compare poor black individuals to rich white individuals? Wouldn’t a more apt comparison be between poor whites and poor blacks?
Because equality of opportunity should be affected by wealth levels. It shouldn't matter who's wealthy and who's poor, they should have roughly equal access to opportunity.
That's the entire point of the American Dream.
But here's where it gets interesting: even if you compare it as same wealth levels, the 10% poorest whites are still TWICE as wealthy as the 10% poorest blacks. And the wealthiest 10% of whites are 4-5 times as wealthy as the wealthiest blacks. So access to opportunity is still skewed to favor white families, at every income level.
Hi, Alex. Do you have any plans for a new video regarding similar issues?
Hi! Yes, I'm currently working on a video explaining the historical context of police violence.
How do you feel?
I'm happy to have created something that people are responding to and that adds positively to the conversation. I also feel exhausted by everything that's happening in the world.