A Data Portrait of Black America in 2020

More than any other group, 2020 was an unprecedented year for African-Americans. Whether it was COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on the Black community; the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or countless other Black bodies brutally killed at the hands of law enforcement, it was an extremely challenging year. But unrest led to #BlackLivesMatter protests demanding change around the world, while African-Americans found #BlackJoy in celebration of Black Talent and Culture through movies, music, and live streaming.


This retrospective is a data portrait, created from over 22 Million Streamlytics datapoints, visualizing Black life in 2020, while paying homage to W. E. B. Du Bois' Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America.

COVID-19’s Impact on Black Lives

At first, 45 led us to believe it was just a Chinese virus. Then COVID-19 hit the US like a nuclear bomb, ramping up pretty quickly to infect at least 80,000 people and kill nearly 1,000 of those infected by the end of March. Due to the alarming spread of the virus, Governors and Mayors around the country enforced lockdowns in major metro areas like California and New York. In the visualizations below, you can see how content preferences and viewing habits of African-Americans in California and New York changed during the first phase of lockdowns.

Favorite Titles of African-Americans During Lockdown

With longer bars representing most watched, and smaller bars representing least watched, this visualization displays real time tracking of the most viewed titles on Netflix and Amazon Prime throughout 2020.

Most Popular Genres Among African-Americans During Lockdown

Focusing on viewers in California and New York, this visualization shows two levels of data. The larger circles are genres, labeled at the top center. The smaller circles represent popular titles within each genre.

With more folks out of work or working from home, music listening and streaming content consumption shifted, changing where, when and how people listened to music and watched video content.

When African-Americans Streamed (by Time of Day)

This visualization compared streaming activity in 2019 and 2020. The X-axis displays the time of day, while the Y-axis the amount of activity. The difference in streaming habits shows the impact that COVID-19 lockdowns had on viewers in 2020.

African-American’s Top Streaming Devices on Amazon (2020)

This visualization shows which devices viewers used to watch Amazon Prime during the first wave of lockdowns.

#BlackLIvesMatter Protests and Hashtags Erupt Across America

After a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nine minutes on March 25, 2020, George Floyd's death become a symbol of racial inequality and police brutality across America, sparking #BlackLivesMatter protests throughout the country. Starting in Minneapolis, at the site of Floyd’s murder, and into the cities where Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery were murdered, as well as major cities like Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta, protests erupted while igniting a movement to defund the police. All across social media, there was a significant boost in hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #DefundThePolice, as well as the names of the slain. 

Allies joined protests, boycotted, invested in the Black community and Civil Rights programs, as well as renewed  diversity, inclusion and equity programs in support. But as COVID-19 and #BlackLivesMatter fatigue set in, people were looking to escape and turned to streaming media. Major streaming platforms, including Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, launched Black-themed content collections. #ClubQuarantine and #Verzuz became a source of #BlackJoy, renewing interest in older TV shows, movies and songs. 

Most Popular Titles Among African-Americans in Major Protest Cities

Aided by the increase of Black content on streaming platforms, this visualization compares the most popular titles among Black viewers before and after the eruption of #BlackLivesMatter protests in major cities.

Popular Streaming Services Among African-Americans Throughout Protests

As Black voices were amplified on television and across social media, streaming services began to ramp up the amount of Black shows and movies on their platforms. This visualization shows the way changes in content impacted which services African Americans streamed on most. (Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix)

VERZUZ Audience Growth (June-December)

This visualization shows the increase in overall VERZUZ viewers via instagram and Apple Music. Hover over each point to see which VERZUZ battle happened on the specified date and how it contributed to the increase in total viewership.

Woke or WAP? African-American Women Flip the Presidential Election

During Donald Trump's presidency, the country was more racially divided than it had ever been. Along with the many years of police violence against Black bodies, and COVID-19 taking its toll on Black lives, African-Americans found themselves throwing their hands up, saying enough was enough. The political environment caused Black women to tune into the news and watch political shows and documentaries to sharpen their political acumen.

With the power of their vote, Black women came out in record numbers, flipping counties and states from Red to Blue to elect Joe Biden as 46th President of the U.S. And they gave the county its first woman and first Black Vice President-elect with Kamala Harris. Black women did that!

Political Content Watched by African-Americans (YouTube)

With longer bars representing most watched, and smaller bars representing least watched, this visualization displays real time tracking of the most popular political videos watch by African-Americans leading up to the 2020 elections.

The Impact of The Black Vote in Key Electoral States

This visualization shows how Black Women voted in comparison to their peers in the key states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. As shown in the data, Black women had the most concentrated voting effort of any demographic in the United States.

To obtain a quote about A Data Portrait of Black America in 2020 or for hi-res versions or embeds of the data email press@streamlytics.co. For more in-depth breakdowns of the data contact sales@streamlytics.co.

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