Black to Reality: How Black Creators at Meta Are Shaping the Metaverse
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Black to Reality: How Black Creators at Meta Are Shaping the Metaverse

Rooted in the audacity of hope, dreams and big ideas are often the catalysts to action and solutions. Some of the world’s most-noted movers and shakers have created platforms, programs and companies that all started as a dream. 

Meta began as an idea to see communities globally connect in one place. And now the metaverse is a virtual space where people can gather in real time no matter their location. Beyond the external-facing platforms, Meta has an internal company culture that supports innovative ideas, thought-provoking solutions and the drive to turn dreams into reality.

Recently, AfroTech had the opportunity to learn how Brandon C. Dudley and Jahmeilah Roberson, two Meta employees on the virtual reality teams, are working to build a diverse and inclusive metaverse through the power of augmented and virtual reality.

 

Creativity Is at the Core

As a Product Manager, Brandon Dudley had a personalized entry into tech because of his hometown roots in Detroit. Beginning his career working with engineers to build out automotive products for customers, the nature of his work shifted as the technology of cars advanced and became more robust. With the culmination of his lived experience, Brandon utilized his expertise to move his talents into tech.

In this space, Dudley doesn’t just depend on his keen experience. He also taps into his creativity while working on all of his different projects and initiatives. 

“I often bring together different pieces of tech, different subject matter experts and design elements to produce new things. There’s quite a bit of creativity in that. That’s been true of my role at Meta,” Dudley explained.

For Jahmeilah Roberson, tech was always a part of her DNA. As the daughter of two techies, she’s long been exposed to the role technology plays in organizations and how it affects the lives of every living being. This perspective shaped her knowledge of how to navigate the tech space, particularly as a Black woman.

Working as a Product Design Manager, Roberson fills her days with building spaces for creativity in ideation and execution for future products. This is especially true as she’s building spaces that involve leveraging culture and translating that into inclusivity in the metaverse. 

“We are pulling inspiration from our lived experiences, both [in real life] and on the internet, as well as from pop culture and our imaginations, to build software and hardware that is forging a path towards a more immersive technological future. We can’t do that without creativity,” Roberson pointed out.

 

Innovation Drives Change

Creativity is at the core of Dudley and Roberson’s work, and Meta’s culture actively encourages employees to fully embrace their creativity and ideate innovative concepts that drive change for the culture. Whether it’s working with a group of designers to develop classes on building influence as a creator within Meta or having a major part in getting the accessibility program for Quest VR off the ground, Brandon and Jahmeilah are committed to working on ideas that advance the culture of Meta. 

“I can see a bit of a culture shift already in how [Meta] is starting to think about equitable experiences for people with disabilities on our products,” Dudley explained.

Much of this innovative work and culture-shifting experience is made possible by the power of collaboration and the belief that big ideas are birthed from diverse experiences.

“I believe that having a partner or team to provide additional perspectives to help you shape your ideas as you bring them to life is essential to the creative process,” Roberson said.

 

Opening Doors from a Virtual Reality

Meta has resources in place that support continued diversity of thought. The organization has an extensive learning and development team that works across disciplines to develop and support learning initiatives. The Meta culture is one of small teams built to empower people to think big and deliver big impact through innovation. Roberson and Dudley are using their experiences and lessons learned to encourage future technologists — specifically Black technologists — to dream big and dream audaciously.

“We know that Black people drive culture and innovation, so I’ll continue to push for Black creators in the product work I’m doing right now — especially as we define what it means to be a creator in AR/VR (augmented and virtual reality) and for the metaverse,” Roberson stated.

As innovative leaders in the AR/VR space, Dudley and Roberson want their work to speak to the range of possibilities available for people looking to pursue big ideas in tech. There’s a certain level of grit and grind that must exist to pitch big ideas. Staying committed to these acts of service, thinking big, and showing up and showing out are crucial to turning dreams into reality.

 

Dress It Up and Make It Real for Me

As the metaverse develops, there’s a real opportunity to ensure this virtual universe is inclusive, safe and welcoming for all that are engaged. One way of ensuring equity is by developing virtual reality tools to make the metaverse for all people.

“Having a basic understanding of extended reality and the differences between AR and VR is helpful,” Roberson explained.

Moreover, having a willingness to learn and embrace ambiguity is just as important to creating these inclusive virtual spaces. The products around the metaverse are new, so as the technology pushes forward, the continued need to have diverse people building this space will also grow.

“I think the promise of AR and VR can be to bring people closer together in ways we hadn’t thought possible. I can enhance and enrich your ‘real’ life, not pull you away from it,” Dudley said.

No matter the background or core experience, Meta has space for people with big dreams and innovative ideas. As evidenced by Dudley and Roberson, it’s a place where one can thrive and push past the limits to uncover the next world altering solution.

Whether you want to explore the range of possibilities associated with virtual reality or you have a brand-new idea that you can bring to the Meta virtual and augmented reality teams, there’s space for you.

To learn more about how Meta supports dreamers and big ideas, click here.