I haven’t been able to find any thorough studies of race or racial attitudes on Twitter—please e-mail me if you know of one—but the presence of trends like this one, however short-lived, suggest a strong, connected black community on the site. Quantcast, a Web analytics firm that estimates audience demographics, reports that 12 percent of Twitter’s visitors are African-American, though this could be inexact since many people access the site through third-party tools. A Pew Internet & American Life project study (PDF) found that “Twitter users are slightly more racially and ethnically diverse than is the full U.S. population, most likely because they are younger.” The fact that Twitter is so cell phone-friendly may factor in as well, since minorities tend to be strong adopters of mobile devices with Web access. Any way you spin it, mustering 1.2 percent of all tweets at a time—and that doesn’t count the spinoff hashtags that were spelled differently, like #uknowublackwhen—is a phenomenal feat. Particularly over Labor Day weekend, when there was plenty else to do; on Sunday afternoon in Washington, at least, it wasn’t even raining.
Chris Wilson is an assistant editor at Slate in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.