July 18, 2019

Will the Left Inherit YouTube?

“Ke­vin Peterson is deliberate when he speaks. He pauses frequently, as though chewing over his next thought. In life as on YouTube, where he is one of a growing number of leftists and progressives who have attracted large online followings, he is disarmingly sincere. He tends to understate the case, introduce caveats, and admit uncertainty. He embeds these habits in the sign-off on his video essays—“DAS JUS ME DOE”—a phrase that is also featured on his merchandise. He then adds, “What do you think?”

His videos on the channel T1J skew minimalist. Peterson opts to address the camera directly, rather than using the skits and absurdist jokes common among many of his left-leaning peers. His muted approach is perhaps bound up in his experience of being a black progressive in the Deep South, where he notes that political conversations can get “pretty awkward.” As he put it to me, “People would normally be immediately turned off by [topics like race], but I say it in a more palatable way.”

Yet despite his diplomatic demeanor, he’s willing to grab political lightning rods. In 2016, he released a video declaring he would not vote for Hilary Clinton despite his opposition to Donald Trump, citing the Democratic candidate’s chumminess with corporations and her penchant for warmongering. In 2017, with Trump’s Twitter-fueled reign of terror in full swing, he released a follow-up explaining why he did not regret his decision.”

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