The Secret Power Of Black Twitter
So what is Black Twitter you might ask…Well let me explain
Black Twitter is a powerful community on the Twitter social network focused on issues and interest of the Black community primarily African-American Twitter users who have created a virtual community by proving adept at bringing about a wide range of sociopolitical changes.
“How Black People Use Twitter,” brought the community to wider attention. Young black people appeared to use Twitter in a particular way: “They form tighter clusters on the network—they follow one another more readily, they re tweet each other more often, and more of their posts are @-replies—posts directed at other users.
Black Twitter holds court on pretty much everything from President Barack Obama to the latest TV reality show antics. But don’t get it twisted. Black Twitter is politically astute and socially conscious.
Black Twitter is not a special website or a smartphone app. The hashtag #blacktwitter itself won’t necessarily lead you to it. It doesn’t exactly stick out among the trending topics on Twitter, even though it’s been known to cause a topic or two to trend. It is not exclusively black — there are blacks who don’t participate in it, and people of other races who do.
“Black Twitter brings the fullness of black humanity into the social network and that is why it has become so fascinating,
According to a Pew Research Center report, while similar numbers of blacks and whites use the Internet — 80 percent and 87 percent, respectively — 22 percent of those blacks who were online used Twitter in 2013, compared with 16 percent of online whites.
Meredith Clark, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who is writing her dissertation on Black Twitter, likened it to “Freedom’s Journal,” the first African-American newspaper in the United States. On that publication’s first front page in 1827, it declared: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”
“If you are from a particularly marginalized community or one where others have spoken for you, but you have not had the agency to really speak for yourself or make your truth known, then it is absolutely necessary that in any instance you can take on that agency that you do so,”And so that is what you see happening in Black Twitter.”
Mainstream U.S. media first took serious notice of Black Twitter last year, when it abruptly rose up to scuttle a book deal for a juror in the trial of Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. That was the first time that blacks used Twitter “in a very powerful and political way,” said Houston black social media consultant Crystal Washington.
Such death-by-Twitter activism could very well be the harbinger of a new civil rights strategy, Ellis said. She noted that a short amount of time elapsed between the moment Black Twitter noticed the juror’s book deal and the moment it was called off. The same was true of the Zimmerman boxing match.
“Ask the NAACP how long it would have taken had that been one of their initiatives,” Ellis said.
The NAACP employed the hashtag #TooMuchDoubt for its unsuccessful attempt to halt the execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, and the hashtag #OscarGrant on tweets about its activism over the police killing of black teenager Oscar Grant, whose life was later documented in the movie “Fruitvale Station.”
“We realized more than anyone that we had to go in that direction and we’ve done it,” NAACP interim President Lorraine Miller said of the NAACP’s social media use during a recent appearance on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program.
Black Twitter arguably had its biggest field day last year with embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen, whose admission that she used racial slurs in the past inspired the #paulasbestdishes hashtag, featuring recipe titles such as “Massa-Roni and Cheese” and “We Shall Over-Crumb Cake.”
Washington said Black Twitter’s playful take on the Deen controversy may have been a dry run to the Zimmerman juror take down.
What’s next for Black Twitter? No one is sure, I don’t think we can know what’s next for Black Twitter any more than we can know what’s next for black people What I can appreciate is this is a very powerful platform to rally around.
Collective engagement will have a profound impact on the injustices that have been occuring to often.