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Work Diaries: Malika Saada Saar’s worklife, focused on human rights at YouTube

We’re peeling back the curtains with our series, Work Diaries, where you can experience the inner workings of YouTube. How do decisions get made? What goes into a product, feature or policy? We’re asking YouTube employees to give us the low-down during a five-day period.

Featured today: Malika Saada Saar uses her background as a human rights lawyer to work across YouTube on racial justice and human rights issues. 


8:00 am: Wake up tired after a Sunday family dinner that took way too much out of me. Kids still sleeping, thankfully. 

10:00 am -12:00 pm: Continue to think through and write about our responsibility to build a platform that allows Black and Brown creators to be free from hate speech and supremacist content. Read different op-eds on platforms and hate speech. 

3:00 pm:  Great meeting on thinking through opportunities to connect NGOs addressing racial justice with YouTube Originals (YTO).

4:00 pm: Get youngest child organized for doing math. This is the hardest part of my day.

5:00 pm: Take oldest child to track coaching session.

6:00-7:30 pm:  Catch up on emails and reach out to lead organizer for incarcerated girls in San Francisco.

Today’s highlight: Feeling hopeful after our discussion about policy discussion on hate speech and supremacist content. 


8:00-9:00 am: Make that cup of coffee and take a long, meditative walk.

9:00 am: Breakfast with kids and sort through their ideas for the day.

11:30 am: Meeting with Sarah -- my heart and a key member of my squad. Almost every project I have done in the last two years, most notably Courage to Question and Project Witness, I have done with Sarah as my co-pilot. Our 1:1 meetings always oxygenate me.

1:00 pm: Meet with the squad!!! An amazing group of women have come together from across Google and YouTube (Sarah, Sriramya, Raashi, Breanna and Diana) to do Project Lighhouse, an effort to use our products and platform to support victims of domestic and sexual violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are getting ready to launch our PSA and social campaign, “I See You.”

3:00 pm: Reach out to domestic violence and sexual violence organizations to discuss launch with their networks. We have been in lockstep communication with orgs during the development and direction of the campaign.

6:00 pm: Get my daughter ready for track practice.

7:30 pm: Ugh, dinner. Too tired to cook. 

9:30-10:30 pm: Catch up on emails and writings.

Today’s highlight: New kitty addition to the family. Meet Che.

Here are my kids! Jonah, Sage and Gabriel

Here are my kids! Jonah, Sage and Gabriel


8:00 am: Run out to get groceries for the rest of the week. My 13-year-old is eating his way through my house.

11:00 am: Check in with Breanna on where our work is regarding racial justice and creators.

12:30 pm: Get children together to eat lunch and set up reading time.

1:00 pm: Meet with NGOs to discuss the child safety landscape.

4:30 pm: Meet with YTO team to discuss launch of an upcoming documentary.

on the cash bail system in America and how that connects to our other racial justice efforts.

5:30 pm: Meet with our Trust and Safety team to do a deep dive on our hate and harassment policies, and discuss areas of improvement. 

10:00-11:30 pm: Catch up on emails, notes and prep for next day.

Today’s highlight: Hair time! My daughter braids my hair, so I can look decent on Google Hangout.


8:00 am: Manage to get kids settled down for breakfast despite new kitten diversions.

11:00 am: Meeting with head of the Open Society Foundation, Patrick Gaspard. One of the most righteous folks around. Patrick is a mentor, and prior to Open Society Foundation, he was President Obama’s Ambassador to South Africa (and an anti-apartheid activist during his college days). Talked about OSF’s initiative with racial justice organizations and how to collaborate on commitment to equity and justice and human rights.

12:00 pm: Lunch with kids and set up math lessons for youngest child, much to his annoyance.

1:00 pm: Project Dubois headed by the powerful Fahima (also part of the squad) to discuss how to use Google Lens to visualize police brutality in this movement of Black Lives Matter. So great to have this conversation of how we can be relevant to the unprecedented racial justice movement and advance the work of those folks on the streets protesting.

3:00 pm: Meeting on Launch of Project Lighthouse. Excited to see this effort finally get pushed out.

6:00 pm: Get dinner happening and take eldest to track practice.

9:00-10:30 pm: Return emails and read over docs.

Today’s highlight: My meeting with one of my favorite people and human rights defender, Patrick Gaspard. Here’s an article about him, when he was an U.S. Ambassador to South Africa during the Obama administration.

Family cookout

Family cookout


9:00-11:00 am: Morning is focused on YouTube’s racial justice work stream. I’m sorting through the different slideshows and conversations with others who are driving this work. I share my thoughts on how to ensure that racial justice fund is done with vision and authenticity.

12:00-3:00 pm: Try to balance writing and kids. Unsuccessful.

4:00 pm: Call with Black creator to understand grievances, areas of change and reform that we need to advance. Hard to hear how Black creators are suffering on our platform. We must do better.

5:00 pm: I am drained. Time to switch gears and focus on kiddos. 

Today’s highlight: Cookout with familia!!

Congressman Rep. John Lewis (GA)  at the Black Lives Matter Plaza, in front of the White House, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Congressman Rep. John Lewis (GA)  at the Black Lives Matter Plaza, in front of the White House, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


Reflecting on the passing of civil rights giant, John Lewis. Had the honor of meeting him a few times in my human rights work. He was mighty. Best memory of him was our conversation on child trafficking and his commitment to end this form of modern day slavery. He met with survivors, listened to their stories with grace and understanding. So grateful he lived to see the racial justice movement and the young folks taking to the streets to carry on his work.