Uplifting Black Voices: A Roundtable with 5 Black Youtube Creators

A photo collage of the five black creators interviewed in the round table and their interviewer Dennis Upkins.

Continuing Denny Upkins’ new series “Uplifting Black Voices,” this week’s interview features not one, not two, but FIVE black youtube creators who have contributed to the Black LGBTQ entertainment community online.  It is thanks to Denny that this blog now regularly features interviews with talented, accomplished people from marginalized communities who have lent their voices to the world of activism. Because of this interview’s length, I’ve provided a table of contents below if you’d like to skip around, and I’ll let Denny tell you the rest! 


CN: general discussion of racism and homophobia in content creation; discussion of personal faith; honoring the untimely death of a community member; brief discussion of weight and eating habits.


Table of Contents

Introductions

Getting Into Vlogging

Reviewing LGBTQ media

The Representation of Black LGBTQ Community

Using Your Platform to Support Others

One-on-One Questions

The Broad Strokes of Content Creation and Wrap-Up

Follow These Creators


Confession time. Throughout the quarantine era of the Covid pandemic, I found myself descending through the rabbit hole that is YouTube. Eventually I found myself in a few sectors. One in particular is the Black LGBTQ Web Reality & Entertainment sector. In this sector content creators reviewed popular reality tv shows such as Married to Medicine, Love & Hip Hop and the Real Housewives franchises. They also promoted Black LGBTQ web media and its creators. More than that, these reviewers and influencers regularly weighed in on major events be it celebrity gossip, social justice, national and world politics. 

Five personalities, in particular, are not only prominent figures in the sector for the content they create, but they also use said content to enlighten, empower, and entertain their audiences in a positive manner. This has translated into immense success ranging from becoming monetized on YouTube, winning awards, being tapped to host web reality show reunions, to interviewing celebrity moguls. 

Another universal trait these young, gifted, and Black influencers all share? Each of them have major endeavors outside of social media: entrepreneurial endeavors, interviewing shot-callers on the red carpet at premiere events, and even producing and directing a full length feature film. Suffice it to say they stay on their grind, making boss moves. More than that, they represent a growing trend of industrious and ambitious Black and Brown creators and entrepreneurs. Rarely do we see these positive and progressive examples of Black Excellence because it debunks the narrative that we’re inferior, lazy, shiftless and ignorant criminals. Commence the debunking.

Introductions

Joining me for the roundtable…….

YB Speaks: A purveyor of truth and justice, YB is one of the most well respected figures of the Black LGBTQ web reality realm. A natural leader, this judge renders his rulings in his commentary on front burner topics with empathy, truth, wisdom and sass.

BubzDaGawd: While this self-proclaimed urban leprechaun may be only a little over five feet, don’t be mistaken. He has the heart of a giant. Regularly tackling spiritualism and the esoteric on his channel, Bubz challenges his viewers to question everything. He also stresses to his viewers that in order to love God, one must fully love themselves. Bubz was the reunion host for the first season of Surviving 305 and was featured on The Come Up: Miami season one reunion.  Speaking of the latter, word to the wise, never let him pray over you. Otherwise everyone is going to Hell. Everyone!

Mocha Minutes: Beautiful, unyielding, and unapologetic, Mocha is a woman of conviction and principle which resonates in her platform, The Mocha Minutes podcast. Said podcast recently passed a seven year milestone in 2023.

Katrina Sykes: Journalist, model, actress, producer, director, Sykes can also be described as  intelligent, powerful. Possessing a nonchalant swagger that is reminiscent of a young Marsha Warfield, Sykes embodies all of the amazing qualities of her hometown, Memphis, TN.

ScottyByNatureTV: A mashup of Andy Cohen and Ta-Nehisi Coates, this unproblematic Mississippi native is the owner of a two-time award winning channel which has over 51,000 subscribers. Scotty’s output of content and workrate are second to none. And he’s a fellow Aquarian which means he is next level awesome.

Today each of these creators will share their experiences on social media; using their platforms to do good in the world; the importance of amplifying marginalized voices and much more. 


Upkins: For those who may be unfamiliar, would you be so kind as to introduce yourselves and describe the scope of your platforms.

YB Speaks: My name is YB Speaks and my platform is dedicated to giving a third eye comedic perspective on social issues, politics and entertainment. The goal is to have open, honest, and meaningful conversations in an effort to build the bridges of unity our community needs. 

BubzDaGawd: Of course! Hey, hey, hey, fam! My name is BubzDaGawd, an individual who is growing and strengthening his foundation of self-love everyday, while encouraging others to find their unique path(s) to freedom, all through the power of the internet! My platforms (Youtube/Instagram/Rumble/TikTok) are used as spring-boards for various types of contextual and nuanced conversations that affect humanity as a whole. Whether it’s me reviewing LGBTQ+ online reality shows, giving commentary/activism for oppressed groups of people or a random live, I do all I can to give a different perspective that could transmute negative situations/experiences (with the fusion of love/self-love), into fruitful and life-bringing/giving ones, all in my unique “Bubz” flow (way).

Mocha Minutes: My name is Stephanie Williams and I am the host of the Mocha Minutes Podcast. The Mocha Minutes Podcast is a topical podcast where I discuss current events, TV, movies, My single life or anything else going on that week. My podcast is available across all platforms. 

Sykes: Yes, of course. My name is Katrina and I also go by the web name HersheeKissTV. I’m a borderline ADHD multi-talented woman that wears many hats. I’ve done stage plays, indie films where I’ve worked behind and in front of the camera and I have also dabbled in the world of indie reality tv and journalism as well. I am a Mississippi born, Memphis raised short, petite and dark skinned young lady who would be born as the same woman over and over again and wouldn’t trade places for anyone else in this world.

ScottyByNatureTV: Hey, my name is ScottyByNatureTV and I talk about all things pop culture.

ScottyByNaturetTV, a dark skinned man wearing all sage green and a brown leather bucket hat, sits with his hands clasped in front of him, flashing a smile at a photoshoot.
ScottyByNaturetTV flashing a smile at a photoshoot

Getting Into Vlogging

Upkins: Have you always been a dedicated blogger in some capacity or was YouTube your first foray into blogging or vlogging rather?

YB Speaks: Actually no, I was an avid viewer of other platforms that gave a strong truthful voice and then realized I too had a lot that I wanted to say. I started creating Facebook videos on various topics surrounding social justice and world events then I started my YouTube channel after being inspired by another creator. Shoutout to the Tag Team with Merc B and Q.

BubzDaGawd: YouTube was my first shot at vlogging, especially with my previous YouTube channel (let’s leave that in the past. Lol). This present channel is just a more evolved, aware version.

Mocha Minutes: I would not consider myself a blogger. I am more of a podcaster in nature. I have blogged in the past.

Sykes: Blogging is something that was heavy on my mind for a very long time and when the pandemic began, it became the perfect opportunity for me to step into this lane.

ScottyByNatureTV: Definitely. I’ve been doing this for about 13 years now, but my channel didn’t take off until about four years ago and it’s been amazing. My first time vlogging was in 2009 on Facebook and a year later, I moved to YouTube!

Upkins: With vlogging, is there a pressure to be “camera ready?” Does that affect your content production?

YB Speaks: For me I can say there is some pressure to be camera ready but I’d like to clarify my point of view on this. Some would view camera ready as a chance to be inauthentic in order to gain visibility because they do that in this realm a lot but for someone like myself I find that just being who you are is the pressure because you’re still going to ask yourself will they like this or that or even me?  But when you know who you are and have faced down all manners of shame and opposition you have a natural thick skin and wit that helps with the confidence needed to just push the record button and make it happen. Shoutout to The Queen Mariah [Carey] lol. If you’re not right then the content won’t be and your viewers or at least your loyal viewers will be able to tell. I think creators don’t realize their impact even if it’s just a few followers it’s your responsibility to deliver worthy content PERIODT.

BubzDaGawd: It did in the beginning. These YouTube streets can definitely pick you apart, especially if you’re not secure within yourself. Recently, I’ve been more-so podcast (audio only) than visual. I really want people to actually LISTEN to what’s being said, as opposed to being distracted by what they see. 

Mocha Minutes: As a podcaster, you always have to ask when you are collaborating if you should be camera ready. It is definitely pressure to make sure you are because you just never know.

Sykes: Yes there is. You have some bloggers who I like to call “no face no case” bloggers. It’s just a term I like to use, lol, for bloggers who don’t show their faces but would rather post clips of other things in the media, or just talk more in podcast form. And then you have others who like to cam up and do their thing which is great too. I made the conscious decision to show myself on camera because I always had future plans to host events in public, act and participate in other arts where I have to be seen. So I always felt it would work best for me.

ScottyByNatureTV: Yes, there is pressure! LMAO. There was a time where I didn’t care HOW I came on camera. Just look at my videos from 2010-2014 lmao. Being presentable is definitely something you HAVE to do.

A half circle of fashionably dressed, young black people seated on a lavish set with a large quilted, blue velvet chair with gold trim in the center. Bubzdagawd has the fancy chair and is hosting the Surviving 305 season 1 reunion.
Bubzdagawd (center) hosting the Surviving 305 season 1 reunion

Upkins: Most, if not all of you, I met via the Black LGBTQ Web Reality Realm on YouTube. How did you find yourself in this often colorful and riveting sector?

YB Speaks: Way back when Chasing: Reality was in their first season of Chasing: Atlanta I had a friend who put me onto them because we both loved reality shows and were looking for something that represented us. My friend also knew I was starting out on YouTube and told me I should review these shows because of the unique way I give commentary. After watching the first episode I realized I saw myself in a lot of these cast members and in their personal stories which made reviewing the show very easy for me. After consuming more of these web reality platforms I started seeing the same thing across the board whether the cast member(s) were in the thralls of a personal situation at some point—in my own life I too have experienced at the very least a semblance of what they have—so again just so relatable and uplifting. Also you spend your life feeling alone and constantly trying to figure out where you fit in, so seeing these LGBTQ spaces just come through and represent a very marginalized community continues to mean the world to me.

BubzDaGawd: Great question. I found myself in this sector, by reviewing Gemini Filmz’ The Come-Up and Bad Boyz Club (THE ORIGINAL), as well as The Real Hot Boys: Houston and a few others. But once I joined TTB’s “The Panel”, as well as some of  ScottyByNatureTV’s lives, my visibility started to grow within the sector. 

Mocha Minutes: Part of my gateway into web reality was an ex friend. The friendship did not sustain but my love of the space did. I had binged a whole season of Chasing: Atlanta and said that with more capital behind the brand, they would rival reality tv shows on any tv channel. I stopped myself short because I realized that with more money, comes more problems. The authenticity of the stories could get watered down to make it more palatable to my fellow straights. 

Sykes: I believe I have told this story a gazillion times lol. When I was younger, I was a really big Bad Girls Club fan, and the #1 YouTuber who would cover all the Bad Girls Club tea was Wesley Henderson at AConnectionTV. After you follow a YouTuber for so long, even if they switch their craft, you’ll eventually develop a loyalty to them like I did and when BGC was over and he started to cover more indie projects, I kinda went with the flow and that’s where I was introduced to the LGBT web reality world. 

ScottyByNatureTV: Well I started watching Chasing: Atlanta during the first season and then once Chasing Dallas came out, I started reviewing it due to my friend, Charles being on the show. Then as time went on, I reviewed The Come-Up and other LGBT series. Then it led to me being introduced to ReallyBTV, YB Speaks, Ebbie Reviews, Kat & Elteddy27 Official and creating great bonds with them as well.

Reviewing LGBTQ media

Upkins: For my cisgender heterosexual participants, what is the appeal of LGBTQ media and LGBTQ culture?

Mocha Minutes: That actually is a good question. I cannot speak for anyone else but these shows appeal to me because it is people living their lives out loud and authentically. It’s refreshing. I also know that I am privileged to see these stories because they could be put behind paywalls or gate-kept at any time. Wouldn’t blame them, actually. 

Sykes: To be honest, I think fashion, blogs, reality tv and gossip is where cis women and the LGBT community meet. It is something we all  have in common. LGBT media is definitely the place where we can be fed. 

Katrina Sykes, a medium dark skinned woman wearing a black and white flashy outfit, with long curly hair that is orange, red, and turquoise, posing for the cameras at a red carpet event.
Katrina Sykes in attendance for a red carpet event

Upkins: Reviewing and discussing television and web series has to be exhausting and time consuming. What keeps you galvanized to keep up with producing work?

YB Speaks: Well as of now I no longer review television shows or web series content. If I find a show interesting enough I will do a video giving my thoughts on the moments that stood out to me especially if there appears to be a deeper meaning involved. To answer the question on why I stopped reviewing, it was very time consuming and after so many years of the same storylines and plots you tend to naturally grow out of the space and want more. But no lie at the time I really enjoyed it and the wonderful people I met along the way.

BubzDaGawd: What keeps me galvanized is finding a way to make the production work fun, while also implementing the “edutainment” factor. Also, once the work is done and you finally see the end result, that “mission accomplished” feeling that you feel, adds more fuel to the fire of consistent content creativity.

Mocha Minutes: I think being selective with recaps and reporting is the best help. With what goes on in front of and behind the camera, it can get a little draining. Never stretch yourself thin. 

Sykes: To be honest, I am no longer interested in covering every single aspect of television and web series as much as I used to be. The dynamic of that sector has definitely changed over the years. The edits on both independent and mainstream shows do not come off as authentic. Every commentator and blogger is always looking for a way to involve themselves personally with the talent instead of just being media (because a lot of people secretly wanna be reality tv personalities themselves). And the attention span shortage of the viewers has caused both fans and creators to shift focus from what reality tv used to be. Now everything is just for shock value. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, It doesn’t matter if it appears to be authentic and some producers have even taken it upon themselves to edit in favor of their personal friends and that’s just not reality. Not to mention the obsession with breaking down the fourth wall. Now every producer wants to be the “Shaunie O’Neal” of the operation and we begin to know way too much about them. 

ScottyByNatureTV: Honestly, I’ve stopped recapping the shows because of the drama. But then [An’Darrio Abrams] convinced me to review the shows and I started back.

Upkins: As content creators, have you observed instances where preferential treatment was given to straight white content creators? Could you elaborate if you’re able to do so.

YB Speaks: Of course, this happens all the time especially with reality show based platforms such as Bravo. I happen to know a few Black creators who have produced some amazing content and have also amassed a serious following based on their reviews of these types or shows and when these platforms have events they always tend to reach out to the white content creators over the Black ones. 

BubzDaGawd: Oh most definitely, especially if you’re a content creator of color that is creating content that inspires fellow people of color to think for themselves/question and challenge forms of oppression. Historically (and presently) speaking, Black/Queer content creators had (and have) to work three times as hard to earn somewhat the possibility of “equal” treatment, just to receive less than half. Just take a look at the recent callout about the production budget/low pay for actors/actresses, pertaining to The Color Purple musical. 

Mocha Minutes: Absolutely! As someone who is a huge Bravo watcher, I see it daily. I have watched how white content creators have gotten into rooms and spaces that Black content creators could not. It is silently gate-kept for white cis gay men. They hold the cards. If they like you (or you are palatable), they may throw you a bone here and there. Bravocon has been going on for three years and this year’s panels were better with Black moderators. However, those panels were not the ones getting the push. 

Sykes: No disrespect but I am not and have never really been interested in straight white content creators, lol. Unless they are ASMR artists.. But I have heard many stories about unfair treatment on social media platforms dealing with unequal pay and how quality control decides what gets flagged and what doesn’t. 

ScottyByNatureTV:  I do think that white creators get better treatment than we do. Especially more shine and spotlight and promotion most of all.

A banner ad for Kella's Etsy shop demonstrating LGBTQ themed products: A blue T-shirt with the phases of the moon in pansexual pride colors, a black cell phone case covered in DnD dice in the colors of the asexual flag, a laptop with eight different stickers demonstrating the many pride flag colors the moon phases design is available in, some with the text "Not Just a Phase."

Upkins: As Black (and/or) LGBTQ content creators, can you elaborate on any times where you received abuse or pushback for being a marginalized creator?

YB Speaks: Since the beginning of my social media journey I’ve always spoken out about social inequality and the many evils that plague the human experience and when you couple that with being Black and gay, well, it’s unfortunately safe to say the pushback is very real and has often times resulted in some very nasty sparring with what we call trolls in the social media realm. But when I’m ever faced with these issues I always look to one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein:

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.

BubzDaGawd: Whenever I enter into certain Black spaces (Black manosphere/Hotep/Black religious sectors) and my sexuality is confirmed, I receive hella pushback, especially when they are the ones who are creating content to ask questions about queerness and invite queer people onto their platforms to “have a conversation”, only for it to turn into a public queer-bashing session. 

Mocha Minutes: I cannot say that I have gotten pushback. 

Sykes: I have always been an expressive person and the only push back I felt I ever received was being told that I am a woman so I can’t say certain things or carry myself a certain way. And in a way it is hurtful because I thought that an LGBT space would be the perfect place to be myself, but I guess there is a little sexism there as well. Imagine telling a queer man or another member of the community that you love them and accept them no matter what, just to find out you won’t get the same in return. But then again, I guess that’s what the LGBTQ community feels when you step in a straight space. 

ScottyByNatureTV:  I don’t think I’ve ever really received any abuse to be honest.

Upkins: Someone from our sector who certainly would have received an invitation for this roundtable, were she still with us, is the late Dee Rashawn. Some of you knew her better than me. If you have any fond memories feel free to share them and let our readers know why she was truly a gem and why she is indeed missed.

BubzDaGawd: She was an amazing individual. We’d have both online/offline conversations (didn’t matter the topic/it was always a free-flowing convo that ended in love) and they were ALWAYS a pleasure. The warmest heart and a hell of a warrior. There were times where she would be in a lot of physical pain and she would still push through. An amazing mother, wife, panelist, friend and content creator. Rest in power, Queen. 

Mocha Minutes: Dee had a way of being shady, funny and fair all at the same time. She was personable and warm. I wish I had gotten to know her a little better.

Sykes: I am glad God gave Ms. Dee Reshawn and I the come to Jesus moment we needed before she left us here on Earth. It was a very much needed conversation and it taught me a lot of things I needed to hear. With that, I am content and I know she is too. 

ScottyByNatureTV: Me and Danita would talk LITERALLY every single morning. We would encourage, ki ki and everything. She was my everything and it’s still so unbelievable that she’s gone.

A selfie of Dee Rashawn, a medium dark skinned woman with braids, stellar eyebrows, and bright red lipstick, wearing a red blouse. In cursive white text says I Heart you in front. Dee passed away in 2023.
Dee Rashawn

The Representation of Black LGBTQ Community

Upkins: In terms of Black LGBTQ voices, in your estimation are we still underrepresented and if so what can be done to remedy this?

YB Speaks: I’d say we have definitely come a long way in that regard but unfortunately I feel we are still underrepresented especially in the mainstream market. For instance we are still seeing a high volume of heterosexual actors and entertainers take on LGBTQ roles and play a part that in my opinion only sensationalizes the sexual aspects of our community. That to me is a very dangerous game to play and only serves as a reminder that we as LGBTQ humans are not taken seriously as actual people who create, love and aspire just like our heterosexual counterparts. The remedy to this is a simple one, tell our stories the way they really are; the good, the bad and the ugly parts. Also casting a wider net to seek out open LGBTQ creatives who actually live the lives. A lot of these studios try to capture [our authenticity] in their writing. If only they had us for us on that side then maybe it wouldn’t be so hard trying to capture the living essence of the LGBTQ community because frankly a lot of what they produce isn’t anywhere close enough to fully represent us.

BubzDaGawd: Unfortunately, but I feel we’re getting over the hump in this present time. Because of the internet/supersonic information age, we have the power/opportunity to learn from the past and make necessary changes to help our voices evolve to the next level (future). Just look at Beyonce’s most recent tour, Renaissance, which is her highest-grossing tour (and it was dripping in queer-culture/expression). So, we are making huge leaps and bounds with our voices/power. We just have to continue to love ourselves, share that overflow of love with others within the community and also stand firm in receiving credit for what WE helped to create. In the words of the great TS Madison: “Run me that. Run . . . run me that.”

Mocha Minutes: Yes. Definitely are. Also, please stop having wars within the community (cis LGB vs Trans). There is strength in numbers. No one wins when the family feuds. 

Sykes: I believe that is a question that only you guys have the right to analyze. I respectfully decline to answer that question. 

ScottyByNatureTV:  I do believe that we are underrepresented and I think we don’t show DIFFERENT kinds of Black LGBTQ voices. It’s always the same kind of people imo.

Upkins: The Black LGBTQ Web Reality Realm and community…..what are some of its best attributes?

YB Speaks: I love how the web reality world has showcased a lot of different sides to our community and in the same breath has shown us how we are so much more alike than we’d ever like to admit. The attributes of struggle whether it be personal or professional in nature continue to highlight our similarities which has the power to build a much needed bridge of unity in our community.

BubzDaGawd:  I love to see Black queer creators come together and make ish happen! Look at Gemini Filmz, Chasing and others. The manifestation energy is there, despite what others outside the community might think/believe/wanna believe. 

Mocha Minutes: Open conversations about finding love, navigating the cis straight world, finding your voice, self love, building community. 

Sykes: Talent, entertainment, humor, great editors, and very supportive press coverage.

ScottyByNatureTV: It’s entertaining for one and it shows that we have a lot of talent.

A group of professional looking black women give each other high fives after a job well done.

Upkins: The Black LGBTQ Web Reality realm and community…..what are areas of opportunity to improve upon in the sector?

YB Speaks: I think we have to take a step back and remember why we do this and who we do this for. It’s easy to get complacent with the same old same old and that’s something I’ve seen in recent years with web reality based platforms and even mainstream reality dramas. The need to create shows based on other shows takes away from original creativity and thus over-saturating the market which in turn will cause consumers to get bored and move on to something else. So I’d say be bold, be different and don’t be afraid to tell the stories you believe in.  I honestly believe a lot of these web reality based platforms are just worried about catering to the popular toxic culture we find ourselves in now and the proof is in all the shows we see now like Baddies, [Love & Hip Hop] and anything from Zeus Network, lol. We see how successful these shows are which means the consumer is driving them up. So again it’s easy to gravitate and create that type of content because you would also like your platform to be successful as well. I completely understand it’s a numbers game and we all need a little drama but at this point it’s a lot. 

BubzDaGawd: Balancing out the drama (shade/reads/confrontations) with soul-affirming moments (conversations that lead to genuine reconciliation); would prefer for a mental-health specialist/counselor/universal spiritualists to also play an imperative role with production; some sort of Matthew Knowles “School of Media Training”, just so potential castmates can have an idea of what they’re getting themselves into before it all becomes too real, too fast. 

Mocha Minutes: Ceasing in-fighting within the community. Wanting to be the Highlander of an identity is weird. 

Sykes: Understand that every move you make is breaking down barriers not only for yourself but other people. Eliminating the crabs in the bucket mentality. The worst thing you can do is fight everyone to become the only one to make it to the other side, and end up being alone in a world that was never in your favor. 

ScottyByNatureTV: The unnecessary drama. It’s really annoying and urban.

Using Your Platform to Support Others

Upkins: In addition to reviewing shows, you all also cover hot topics be it celebrity gossip, Hollywood scandals, politics, world events, etc. One thing I admire about all of you is that you use these events, television reviews, etc. to lead discussions that not only entertain but also enlighten and empower your audiences. Do you feel that this is a responsibility on your part or are these moments simply organic?

YB Speaks: Even if you have one subscriber/follower that’s a whole human being that’s leaning on your content/commentary, your views and belief systems. So in my humble opinion it’s definitely my responsibility on my part but also a natural occurrence on my platform just because of the type of content I do. Now imagine having thousands, hell millions, of subscribers/followers. If you’re not careful with how you deliver a message or even spew heavy nonsense and negativity, God only knows the spark you ignite in certain individuals. I’m a viewer first, I always say, and for me I want to feel something when I end a video of my favorite content creators. Yes make me laugh, cry but more importantly what did I learn and what stuck with my spirit the most. I’ve heard a lot of supporters tell me that my platform is their happy place where they come to escape their own reality and where they know I’m going to always keep it real but we are always going to laugh and find the strength to make whatever happen. 

BubzDaGawd:  Good question. I feel it’s both. Because others have stood in the gap for me/made it better for me and my future, I do feel compelled/obligated to do that for others. And because I’m learning to love myself more and more, when I do speak on my platform, that overflow of love that I share, is simply organic. It’s the gray area for me. Lol.

Mocha Minutes: It is simply organic. Some of the best reviewers are those who can show sympathy and empathy. 

Sykes: I think it is natural for bloggers to cover the hottest topics that they believe everyone will be talking about, so in a way it is a responsibility. Personally, I enjoy a good “gag” and “read” followed by a solution. Nowadays, no one will discuss the solution anymore. Every headline you read is followed by a simple insult of, “oh the girls are trash,” or “the girls are boring,” or simply just showing a disdain for every single thing with no analysis of the subject at hand. There are no solutions. 

ScottyByNatureTV: The moments are definitely organic.

Upkins: Do you often find yourself advocating for social justice/equal rights offline in your day-to-day lives?

YB Speaks: At least four times a week it feels lol. There is always someone with some outdated backwoods slave days mentality crossing paths with me lol. I feel that’s God’s way of putting them in my path so they can get an earful, so I’m doing God’s work when I read them for filth and educate them on their ignorance.

BubzDaGawd:  Most definitely. I have friends offline, in which I help stand in the gap for, in reference to queerphobia in their own lives (from family, church family, jobs, society, etc). I’m also in the works of joining a queer organization here in Detroit to be a mentor to queer youth, so that they don’t have to experience the majority of what I experienced when I was younger.  

Mocha Minutes: Yup! So much so, folks wonder who in my life is LGBTQ+. I always say: I fight for LGBTQ+ because there are Black people over there. 

Sykes: I would say between 2020 and 2021 (for obvious reasons) I did more advocating then than I do now. We had the death of George Floyd followed by riots, Kobe Bryant’s passing, COVID and a lot of speaking out about the social injustices of LGBT people. I was very active. Like, literally “ holding up signs and marching down the street” active. 

ScottyByNatureTV:  I can admit that I don’t do it as much as I should.

Upkins: In terms of using social media and creating content for the betterment of society, overall what would you like to see transpire and how does that vision become a reality?

YB Speaks: I’d like for people with a platform to take more of a moral and ethical stance in terms of inequality within our realm and then utilizing the equality gained from that to build a universal bridge of unity our world so desperately needs. We see the good that can be done in our society if we just learn to work together but the vision has to be like minded and my fear is that most social media platforms only cater to the destructive tendencies of our human nature instead of the life giving positive tendencies of our human nature.

BubzDaGawd: I would like to see other content creators create with each other, just like they did during what I would consider the “Golden Era of Black YouTube” (SkorpionShow, Sweet AddictionsTV, 3LWTv, MissPTv, Qaadir, etc.). In order for that to happen, I believe there would need to be a challenge to their own personal egos and then agree to walk together in humility (not passing the torch but sharing the flame). 

Mocha Minutes: I would like to see more authentic conversations of people understanding and NOT the constant “teaching” and “educating” folks want LGBTQ+ to do. Google is too free for folks to be that dense.

Sykes: Produce with Purpose. At least a purpose other than just being seen, because clout is a hell of a drug. Understand that you do not have to sign up to participate in everything. 

ScottyByNatureTV: We need more positivity and less negativity.

One-on-One Questions

Upkins: Mocha Minutes, your podcast recently reached its 7 year milestone. Congratulations. A few months ago you mentioned attending a special convention which you stated was nourishing for you spiritually. If you don’t mind, sharing for the readers why these spaces, while rare, are paramount and potentially game changing.

Mocha Minutes: Yes! I was referring to the Afros and Audio Podcast Festival. It is an amazing gathering of content creators, engineers, platform owners. It was a total game changer for me because it helped me to discover my voice and place in the podcasting space. It also is a great space to foster and create relationships with other creators. I had only been podcasting for a few months when I applied for the inaugural Afros and Audio Festival. It confirmed for me that I belong in this space.

Three smiling black women with natural hair styles posing for a photo: Mocha Minutes (center) with friends at the Afros and Audio Podcast Festival
Mocha Minutes (center) with friends at the Afros and Audio Podcast Festival

Upkins: YB, A popular catchphrase of yours is that health is wealth. You have proven this by documenting your fitness journey. Could you share your thoughts on what inspired you to commit to such a regimen and what has been the feedback from your viewers?

YB Speaks: When I was younger I went through a lot. Being in the foster care system was a traumatic experience and in most cases I was deprived of food so throughout my life food was always something I enjoyed in excess and eventually gained so much weight I couldn’t even recognize myself. Through the trauma I was also prescribed antidepressants which also had a weight gain factor coupled with very low energy so I wasn’t doing enough actively to burn the pounds. I also had a few health scares such as a heart murmur, sleep apnea and a time where my liver may have been compromised and potentially cancerous. Thank God it wasn’t but it was exactly what I needed to at the very least try to get my health on track. The journey is continuous and treacherous at times but I’m very glad I’m making better strides to change my lifestyle so I can stick around much longer to bring evildoers to justice. The feedback from my viewers is amazing and some of them have attributed my journey to why they too have started to practice the health is wealth regimen. So many people love to show you the good times but no one talks about the plateau periods or the times you backslide into old habits. That’s why I think a lot of people like this because I’m transparent about everything involving this process. I cry, I celebrate and I definitely get frustrated and that’s relatable to my viewers because that’s them too. We’re all humans trying to find what connects us all and oftentimes it’s our shared doubts and fears that let us know how not alone and similar we are to each other.

Two black men wearing workout gear posing for a photo: YB Speaks and his nephew after a grueling workout
YB Speaks and his nephew after a grueling workout

Upkins: Related to the topic of health and self care, YB, could you share with the readers your experience with Tyka Naturals and why products like these are so rare and so vital?

YB Speaks: Thank you for asking. My journey with Tyka Naturals has been exciting and as my first entrepreneurial endeavor I have definitely learned a lot about business so I’m excited to see where my new found knowledge will take me as I gear up for a new relaunch. Tyka Naturals is an all natural organic product line I created because I suffered from irritable skin and no product on the market would help so I switched to natural products like Sincerely Yours By Nadia a black owned organic product line that I absolutely swear by. She is also a content creator and shares her product development in her videos. It was she who inspired me to get into creating my own skincare products and after a while of making my own products other people started asking me about my skincare routine and what products I use so that’s when I realized I could turn this into a business. 

 Natural organic products like mine are not as rare as people think , I believe it’s due to these major brands that make billions off of adding ingredients that aren’t beneficial to the skin because of controlled cost these titans pay out a lot of money to reduce visibility for natural/organic products and businesses the same way the so called health industry and medical care professionals often times try to demonize and ridicule holistic health practices it messes with their bottom line because they give the treatment while natural organic products give the cure, at least in most cases. It’s imperative to do your research especially if you have a skincare issue, you will be surprised how many good natural organic products are out there and will not only treat but cure your issue(s).

A black man with an afro, wearing a black long sleeved shirt, glasses, and a gold necklace, sits behind a red table covered in a display of skin products. YB Speaks’s nephew organizing a Tyka Naturals display.
YB Speaks’s nephew organizing a Tyka Naturals display

Upkins: Katrina, You just finished production on a full-length film. I know at times it felt like the odds were overwhelming. Nevertheless, you persisted and completed the project. Congratulations. Share with everyone how this accomplishment became a reality.

Sykes: My film, CRAPS, is finally finished but I definitely didn’t do it alone. I am so grateful to have a star-studded cast and a boyfriend/producer who is so very talented at editing. I have cast members with up to 1 million followers in IG who read MY script and believed in my vision. I’m a firm believer in not doing too much promo until the project is complete but it is finally complete and I’m ready for this new level of life.

A movie poster for the film Craps written and directed by Katrina Sykes: Four black men dressed in red and black suits in a line, the lights of a casino behind them and a pair of dice above them.
CRAPS movie poster
Katrina Sykes at her film premiere: a black woman with an updo and fancy dress holding a bouquet of flowers, with four black men standing on either side of her, each holding a different movie poster for her film CRAPS.
Katrina Sykes (center) at the premiere of her film, Craps

The Broad Strokes of Content Creation and Wrap-Up

Upkins: Any memorable moments related to your platform/online experience that you’re particularly proud of?

YB Speaks: I’m really proud of a segment I put on my platform a while ago which is called The Yasss Gawd Round Table and we have 4 seasons so far and are working on the fifth season for 2024. I have the most amazing co-hosts and we have been honored to have so many guests feature the show as a guest co-host from all walks of LGBTQ life. It’s been an honor and pleasure building that bridge of unity.

BubzDaGawd:  Whenever my supporters feel safe enough to share their stories of pain, vulnerability and redemption with me on my YouTube platform. I’ve had the honor and privilege to speak with them publicly and the end result of the live (a voice being heard/affirmed), confirms one of the purposes of my life, which makes me proud. 

Mocha Minutes: I am so proud I have had Diamond Stylz of Marsha’s Plate on my pod. She is such a breath of fresh air. She did not have to come on the pod and I appreciate her so much! 

Sykes: I was a part of two panels, helped on the set of a reality show, hosted an event for models and music artists, interviewed over 40 models, musicians, reality tv personalities and even a few celebrities. I’ve had the opportunity to grace the platform of [TTB Network] and participate in contests and other cute activities. And I’ve even been given the opportunity to interview Ike aka Voice Of Array post Zeus Network season. I am proud to say after all these tasks, I believe the people saw a light in me because unlike most people, I never begged to be a part of anyone’s platform. I WAS ALWAYS ASKED. 

ScottyByNatureTV: The interview that my best friend and I did with Kandi Burruss was amazing. We really manifested that.

A screen shot from a video call with ScottyByNatureTV, Jamar84, and KandiOnline.
Interview with Kandi Burruss

Upkins: Each of you have been in the game for a number of years. What are the necessary ingredients to ensure a successful, thriving online platform?

YB Speaks: If you’re never afraid to fail then you have failed already. So basically you’re not going to get it right the first or maybe even the second time around so the main ingredient you need is fortitude. No matter what your numbers are, just keep doing what makes you happy and tweak/change things as you go. When in doubt just remember why you started and continue pushing forward. Another ingredient would be grace, this grace is for yourself more so than your audience because this realm can take a toll on you mentally and emotionally making you doubt and question yourself so allow yourself some grace. 

BubzDaGawd: Honestly, just be yourself, accept CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, give yourself grace for growth, share the medicine of laughter with others and be ready to embrace fear, so that you can work through it and receive greater/maintain. 

Mocha Minutes: Authenticity and consistency. Folks will spot a fake a mile away if you do a sharp turn in your content. Folks can also spot someone being fake and just going with the moment. 

Sykes: During the few years I’ve been active, the only thing that kept the momentum going was shock value, and most of it was negative. I’ve learned so far that it’s important for creators to find their niche. And hopefully I will find a new niche that will be more fruitful and set up an actual residual income. 

ScottyByNatureTV: Consistency and constantly reinventing yourself.

Upkins: Any upcoming projects, events, that we need to be on the lookout for?

YB Speaks: Just stay tuned you never know what I’ll do next lol. 

BubzDaGawd: Nothing in particular, at this present moment. But one thing that you can definitely be on the lookout for FOREVER with my platform(s), is content that goes down the rabbit hole, in an “edutaining”, eccentric and unique way. 

Mocha Minutes: Not right now! Hopefully soon though!

Sykes: More shorts and coverage of mainstream media from the HersheeKissTV page. My movie premiere is coming in exactly 1 month to Memphis theaters and after that it will be available on streaming platforms. And it’s only the first. 

ScottyByNatureTV: Yes. I’m doing more music content because music is my first love. I have several other projects involving up and coming youtubers, interviews with other big name youtubers as well.

Follow These Creators

Upkins: Where can each of you be found online?

YB SPEAKS: 

 YouTube @ybspeakstruth.

Instagram @ybspeaks

TikTok @ybspeaks

BubzDaGawd:  I can be found on Instagram/TikTok/Rumble/YouTube under “BubzDaGawd.” 

Mocha Minutes: IG, X and Facebook all the same handle: Mochaminutes 

I also have email: mochaminutes@gmail.com

Sykes: HersheeKissTV everywhere. OTS FILMS everywhere 

ScottyByNatureTV: @ScottyByNature1 on X

@scottybynaturetv on IG and Tik Tok!

Upkins: Any final thoughts or parting shots?

YB Speaks: Just thank you so much for this opportunity it means a lot to know you wanted my voice heard. My one last thing would be to remind everyone who reads this that we are all we have at the end of the day though it may be cliche it’s one we haven’t even tried to work on, the cures to our pains are oftentimes simple remedies. The act of coming together and really working as one heart beat can truly make a difference in the human experience. Our growth in evolution has stunted because this hasn’t been realized yet on a higher vibrational scale. We worry about space, the endless void along with thoughts of what’s the purpose of life when we haven’t even been able to do something so trivial as unite as one people so in that regard what makes us worthy of the secrets of the universe? I’ll leave you with that. 

BubzDaGawd: Continue to love yourself, which means being yourself and knowing that whatever deity/ideology/consciousness  you personally connect to, that there’s NOTHING you can do to separate you from that energy and what’s meant for you. Keep living, laughing, learning and loving!

Mocha Minutes: Love yourself and be open to giving love! You matter!

Sykes: Thank you so much for asking my humble opinion. And you know for many reasons you will always have a special place in my heart. Even when I thought I was Lois Lane and was delusional enough to think I didn’t need it, thank you for handling me with care.

ScottyByNatureTV: I appreciate you for thinking of me! I’ve appreciated you and your support.

Upkins: I want to thank each of you beautiful gifted influencers for your time, for this interview and for the work you all do. And for those of you reading, please check out these extraordinary creators. You’ll be glad that you did.


A picture of Dennis R. Upkins, a lean black man with long limbs wearing a well fitted navy and white pinstripe button up shirt, smiling at the camera.Dennis R. Upkins is a speculative fiction author, a journalist, and an equal rights activist. His first two young adult novels, Hollowstone and West of Sunset, were released through Parker Publishing. Both Upkins and his previous work have been featured in Harvard Political Law, Bitch Media, MTV News, Mental Health Matters, The Nerds of Color, Black Girl Nerds, Geeks OUT, Black Power: The Superhero Anthology, Sniplits, The Connect Magazine, and 30Up. You can learn more about him at his website dennisupkins.wordpress.com


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