Black Twitter important for community expression, interaction online

Assistant Opinions Editor | Journalism Sophomore

Black Twitter is a subculture that provides a valuable platform for black people to network, interact and discuss the current events affecting the community at large. This quickly growing subculture deserves respect from all users on Twitter.

There are many people who regard social media as a pastime that is not to be taken seriously. Everyone I know who does not use Twitter cites their lack of interest in a play-by-play of other people’s lives as the primary reason they abstain. However, there are tons people using Twitter, and a large number of those people are doing more than talking about the sandwich they had for lunch. According to a 2013 study, 16 percent of all Internet users use Twitter, and of the amount of people that use Twitter, 26 percent are African-Americans.

When people hear “Black Twitter,” they often think of foolish antics. True, tomfoolery is a notable aspect of the experience. However, the value in Twitter is that it provides an important space for discourse between not only black people in America, but also others in different parts of the world as well. I have discussed before how anger can be a dirty stain that overshadows the validity of the emotions felt by black people. By utilizing the platform Twitter offers, intelligent young black people worldwide have a place to voice their anger and frustrations in a way that is both honest and comical.

Black Twitter is not just about the funny parts, however. Often the black community on Twitter engages in thoughtful and provoking conversations on issues such as black feminism and racial profiling by police officers. In a July 2013 Salon article, Feminista Jones, a popular sex-positive black feminist, explains that blacks have long been carving out spaces within mainstream society, and Twitter is simply the more modern face of that movement.

The Trayvon Martin incident was America’s first major introduction to Black Twitter. Outrage, frustration and sadness flowed out from the community members’ souls and right onto Twitter. Any time something outrageous regarding blacks happens in the media, Black Twitter is the best place to gauge the reactions of the community at large. Wit and intelligence go hand in hand as creative new hashtags are created and used to discuss each cultural phenomenon as it occurs. A January 2014 Washington Post article explains that everything from the Paula Deen scandal to Justine Sacco’s unfortunate AIDS tweet have had their time in the spotlight of Black Twitter’s glare.

The concept is simple, but the name “Black Twitter” and the way it is used is often the source of misconceptions for some people. Black Twitter is not a separate app. It is not a specific group of people to follow. It is not one Twitter handle. And no, searching “Black Twitter” will not open the secret portal to where all the intelligent black people on Twitter are hiding.

The importance of Black Twitter is that it has given so many voices an outlet to share thoughtful insight and experiences. Black Twitter is a community of people. Not everyone thinks the same, but the point is that everyone is there for everyone else. As Black Twitter gains notoriety, it is sending a message to the world that black people are watching and paying attention to what is going on. The voice of black people is louder than ever and is something that deserves respect.

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