I think that we all can agree that Black Twitter is the most popping space on Al Gore’s internet. (Disagreements?! Let’s fight. OK, OK—I’m [mostly] a lover not a fighter. Stop it, guys. Back to business).
From its cultural commentary to its humor and ability to create social justice movements, Black Twitter is a space fueled by the ingenuity of black folks. And while we know that the online community emerged roughly a decade ago—what kind of legacy has it created?
Professor Meredith D. Clark is a former journalist and assistant professor at the University of Virginia. She’s working on a forthcoming book about Black Twitter and says that the community created by black folks on Twitter has had a tremendous influence on the Twittersphere, and beyond. “I’d say that black Twitter has shaped the culture of Twitter the same way that black culture has shaped American culture for years. The things that happen on Black Twitter and the people who take note of them are just like so-called culture vultures in other subsets of culture,” Clark told The Root.
As a writer, activist and author, George M. Johnson is another prominent voice on Twitter. Johnson uses his platform to speak up for black and queer people. While, overall, his experiences on the app have been positive, they haven’t all been easy. “So it’s like if I talk about the fact that I’m HIV positive, right. If I talk about some of the things I’ve been through, when I’m in a moment where people disagree, they oftentimes will use that to attack me.” But Johnson says, to some extent these attacks on twitter come with the territory of being visible and unapologetically vocal on Twitter.
Feminista Jones is an author and feminist. A “Twitter OG,” she has been on the app for over a decade. Jones says that while she is unsure as to whether or not Twitter will exist in another decade, she’s certain that the online community of black people will live on.
“We were on MySpace, we were on Black Planet,” Jones continued. “We were we are on YouTube, Facebook. We’re everywhere. We’re going to be everywhere because we are a black community and we are a global community. So we’ll find each other. Whether Twitter exists or not.”
In this episode of Unpack That, look back at how Black Twitter changed the world this decade.