The Black History of Black Twitter, Part III


Elzie: I miss the days on Twitter, good days. It’s not that much fun for me anymore.

Wesley Lowery, 60 minutes + correspondent: Black Twitter’s heartbeat was just, insert a random black user who got something funny that day or who made a thread or who talked about $ 200 dates. It was this democratic process. It was a Black open mic night. Once black Twitter started to be talked about as this tangible thing you could study or hold or quantify, part of that magic melts away.

Browne: At first it seemed that people were at least entering it for the right reasons. Since Black Lives Matter and many things have become profitable, I think we are now in a second wave where I think some people are entering this game for the wrong reason.

Lawson: Twitter is just a mirror image of our real world. I don’t think it’s always a healthy space and I don’t think it’s always a toxic space. There is definitely always something in between.

But it’s important to remember that certain users – especially women and queers – have never felt comfortable on the platform.

C. Thompson: I’m warming up. I hate to see black women being treated. I am constantly abused by blacks here.

Meredith Clark, author of a future book on Black Twitter: Black Twitter is not exactly a safe and hospitable space when it comes to discussions about gender or when it comes to discussions about non-normative identity or because it is unusual.

Raquel Willis, trans rights activist: I never felt comfortable in the early days. Transphobia and trans misogyny were so common that even some people we think are now the weakest or most flawed were shitty towards people online.

C. Thompson: Some people are arrogantly ignorant and antagonistic to anyone who is different from them.

Brock: Hotep, which is an Egyptian word, represents a certain type of toxic masculinity. These men believe that women should know their place. It’s quite a black incell culture. Tariq Nasheed became great during this period.

Willis: Tariq Nasheed has been terrorizing black and black queer and trans people for years. It is almost impossible for a white institution, such as all these companies with social networks, to call for intra-municipal damage. It’s not possible for Twitter, as a corporation, to hold black figures accountable in the same way they can hold alt-right white figures accountable – and they still don’t do it well.

Brock: All of these constituencies are just as active on Twitter as young queer people, as is the educated black bourgeoisie, the Blavity Blacks. So there’s that constant covert comment about things that they think blacks should and shouldn’t do.

Mayard: Now we learn the lessons – and act like, “Oh, no. You cannot run and hide in the community if you are a bully or an oppressor. “We are responsible for each other.

Willis: And Twitter is a great space for political education. People who understand the sheer amount of violence faced by Black’s trans people – and, of course, enjoying the beauty of our experiences – that has largely come from Black Twitter. I can only imagine how many people first learned about Marsha P. Johnson or Sylvia Rivera via tweet.

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