A hugely-popular Indian YouTube artist and a Sikh hip-hop artist from Australia highlighted the need for tolerance and acceptance and the importance of fostering productive conversations to combat issues like hate speech and cyber-bullying at an event here to mark the International Day for Tolerance.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Day in 1993 at the initiative of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Day celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1995 Declaration of Principles of Tolerance, outlining principles of respect, acceptance and appreciation of the world's diversity.
Prajakta Koli, whose stage name is 'Mostly Sane', is regarded among India's most popular female comedy YouTuber with a subscriber base of over 2.8 million.
She along with Sukhdeep Singh Bhogal, better known as YouTube hip-hop artist and musician 'L-FRESH THE LION', joined three other YouTube content providers from Germany, Canada and Sudan at an educational event in observance of the International Day for Tolerance, marked every year on November 16, at the UN Headquarters.
The influential social media artists have millions of followers between them and are part of the 'YouTube Creators for Change' initiative, which spotlights inspirational creators who use the platform to foster productive conversations around tough global issues.
At the event, hosted by the UN Department of Public Information, Koli premiered her latest video 'No Offence' in which she takes on internet trolls, peddlers of hate speech and those who think "homosexuality is a disease" and "women are not equal to men and should only do household chores".
Literally packing a punch against her opponents in a boxing ring, Koli raps as she fights the online troll and a middle-aged homophobic woman, sending a message that people cannot get away with hate by just saying "no offense."
The video ends with a strong message from Koli, who raps "In a world where we could hug, we could kiss and smile, we choose not to love but to hate? I dream to wake up to a day and I will, when I'll be more than a hashtag or a social media drill. With a smile for a smile and a heart for a heart, evolution of the new mankind will start."
Explaining her thinking behind the project, Koli told PTI in an interview "the one thing that remained stuck in my mind is how people hate on you and then just say 'no offense'. You cannot get away with hate by just ending it with no offense. Using no offense makes them think that it is ok to hate on people. That was the seed for the whole thought."
"Hate in any form is so toxic, especially on the internet because there are so many young people who spend so much of their time on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and other websites," she said adding that the amount of hate that they sometimes get subjected to online is uncalled for.
Bhogal, who gave a live performance at the event, said through his work and music he wants to communicate the idea of "how we can bring people together, have challenging conversations and also to get us to think about what we see and why things are the way they are."
Emphasizing the importance of accepting each other's uniqueness, he said, "We are human beings. There are differences and there are unique perspectives to each person and cultures. Those are not things that should keep us apart, they are things we can learn from."
He said the youth of today has a sense of courage, urgency and passion and it is encouraging to see that there is a collective consciousness of wanting to change and be more empathetic and compassionate.
He said on issues such as climate change, the young people around the world know their future is very much going to impacted as they see the consequences materializing right in front of them.
The event included a screening of international short films from the young inspirational creators who use YouTube's global reach to change conversations around tough issues and make a truly positive impact on the world. Selected students from the ages of 15 to 24 also presented their own videos or outlines of videos, which will be linked to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.