For Better or Worse, #BlackTwitter Cannot Be Denied

Black Twitter is one of the most powerful forces on social media, giving African Americans a voice like never before.

A close-up view of the home page of the microblogging website Twitter
A close-up view of the home page of the microblogging website Twitter Oli Scarff/Getty Images

When news breaks — whether it is deemed “ratchet” or “racist” — black Twitter is on the case.

In recent years, African American social media users have taken advantage of platforms like Twitter and Instagram, turning them into a megaphone. While many reduce black Twitter to a haven for jokes about reality shows, it’s actually much more diverse. Everything is up for debate, including the fight for equality.

In this digital era, African Americans are continuing this fight with the best tools at their disposal.

Their laptops and smartphones.

According to the Pew Research Center, non-Hispanic blacks represent more than 27 percent of Twitter users, and their influence goes beyond what’s on TV and what music we’re listening to. They get results. From pop culture to social action, black Twitter has redefined the way many of us think about social media’s power.

Here are a few examples of that might.

It Flushed Starbucks’ #RaceTogether Campaign

Healthy conversations about race relations in the U.S. are not high on most people’s agendas when they are rushing to grab their morning coffee before heading to work. Clearly, the good folks at Starbucks missed that memo.

Led by CEO Howard Schultz, the company launched the #RaceTogether initiative as a vehicle to encourage patrons to make their country a better place.

“If a customer asks you what this is, try to engage in a discussion that we have problems in this country in regards to race,” stated Schultz. Unfortunately for him, black Twitter refused to embrace such a shallow attempt to address such deeply rooted issues.

Despite denying that the social media backlash had anything to do with the decision, Starbucks quickly discontinued the #RaceTogether campaign. Such a timely coincidence.

It Rose to Defend the First Daughters

We can always depend on Republicans to be critical of President Barack Obama, but Elizabeth Lauten went too far. In fact, the former communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) did not aim her criticism at the commander in chief; instead she targeted his daughters.

Lauten was angered by Sasha and Malia’s appearance at the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon, and took to Facebook to voice her opinions.

Black Twitter’s legions were just as unimpressed with Lauten as she was with the president’s daughters, and quickly reminded her of another political family who did much worse than wear short skirts.