Racism poisons everything, including new industries like YouTube.
One of the millennial dream jobs is being an influencer on YouTube, where companies fight to have you represent their brand through sponsorships, free products, and all expense paid trips.
One of these companies is Dote. Dote is neck deep in controversy for their treatment of YouTubers and influencers of color.
Dote is a shopping app that lets you shop entire outfits hailing from different brands, all in one cart. The app also has some social features including followers and outfit creators.
The company is known for taking YouTubers and influencers on amazing trips where photographers take photos of them having fun and using those images as promotion for the app.
These “Dote girls” are often white, cis, conventionally thin young girls. In recent trips Dote invited some girls and women of color to go on these trips and they were treated with the utmost respect just like Becky, Katie, Caitlin and Kaitlin, and Kaitlyn…
Oh, wait, no they weren’t.
According to YouTuber Vereena Sayed and Keisha Shade (aka ItzKeisha), on one of the more “diverse” Dote girl trips to Coachella, Dote grouped the girls of color together on one side of the house and the white girls were on the other side of the house.
Guess who got the nice amenities with queen-sized beds and lovely furniture and three bathrooms and who got a makeshift set of couches to sleep on with a stingy coffee table and one bathroom to share amongst five to six people?
Dote really segregated the girls based on race and gave the girls of color the lesser amenities.
Other YouTubers including Daniella Perkins and Eris (aka Eris the Planet) expressed the discomfort and isolation they felt during the Coachella trip.
But that’s not all Dote did.
Similarly, on a Disney Land trip, the Instagram posts were extremely white, with the token ethnic here and there for the diversity card. On a trip to Fiji, in order to qualify for a spot, influencers had to reach a “follower goal.”
According to YouTuber Kianna Naomi, she was one of two black girls who did not reach the follower goal and felt that Dote was tokenizing her for the sake of diversity. Photographers referred to Kianna and Lisette (aka Luhhsetty) as the “black girls” despite knowing the white influencers’ names.
She also stated that despite the trip being a marketing strategy for the company, Dote’s main goal was to take photos of the girls, and she often did not have any photos taken of her.
“No one is taking pictures of you on a trip that’s for pictures. You’re gonna feel uncomfortable.”
Kianna and other girls of color complained to the company about the lack of photos. In response to the complaint, the event coordinators put together a shoot on the beach.
Naomi describes the photographers as clumping together all the girls of color into a group for several group photos.
The photographer proceeds to walk by and half-heartedly snap some close-ups without giving direction. Later, all the Dote girls received their photos at the end of the trip. The beach photos were unedited and overall discarded and not given to the girls of color.
Nonetheless, in response to the callout videos and backlash to Dote’s racist doings, the company’s founder and CEO Lauren Farleigh released the statement, below.
View this post on Instagram
So what actions did Dote take to rectify this “mistake”?
After YouTubers of color called Dote out, their response also included deleting a bunch of their Instagram posts.
They removed the photos that featured all white girls. Dote also began posting more women of color with diverse body types on their feed with the caption “this is what dote looks like.”
View this post on Instagram
So, the move was obviously a cover-up and people noticed, posting comments on the posts. amberdoeeeee responded,
“Since 10 minutes ago…?”
taylor.marie.ellis followed up and said,
“when you get accused of being discriminatory and racist, you start posting more photos of people of color. interesting🧐 this isn’t what dote looks like, it’s PR and quite honestly sad and desperate. this is not authentic posting, it’s damage control. there’s a difference. do better!”
Apparently, most of their recent posts are photos of women of color from past years and trips that Dote initially discarded. Dote’s attempt at rebranding comes too little too late and too shady.
Being a woman of color in a white industry still sucks. Still, the fight continues. Boycott Dote and all the other racist companies.