What’s All This About “Black Twitter”?

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Black Twitter

Black/Brown Twitter Birds Created and Inspired by Alicia Nassardeen

Much buzzed about in the blogs and on the web lately is the focus and interest in what’s increasingly being called “Black Twitter.”

Trendy hipster blogs are taking notice of the unique style, culture and use of Twitter by Black Americans, and supposedly this is becoming a “thing.” What gives?

Some of this “secret power of Black Twitter,” as Buzzfeed notes, is a direct result of community anger over the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin trial.

But it’s also giving attention to our community through a new unfettered public voice that is equal to anyone else using the micro-blogging forum.

Plus, we just like to tweet! It’s what we do at night, it’s our style… Our internet providers set us up, and we get going. Here are a few examples of how the internet buzz sites are showing Black Twitter in all its glory:

Snarky NY blog Gawker writes about “Why So Many Black People Are on Twitter.”

In the article, a Northwestern University study found that Black college freshmen were more apt to use Twitter than their White counterparts.

One reason was given that young African-Americans were more interested in celebrity news and gossip, and that’s what they were finding and retweeting.

But maybe it’s just more of us using Twitter to promote and popularize the service. I mean, do we all have to eat sushi and live in San Francisco to tweet? No way!

Techcrunch found that a social media minority gap no longer exists.

Maybe it never did! We rank higher than White people in our use of Twitter as adults. The Pew Internet Research numbers showed that the percentage of African-Americans (26%) was nearly twice that as White adults (14%).

The study also hints that a reverse elitism is now filtering through social media, where educated Whites are almost looking down on the use of social networks and Facebook time wasting.

And that’s where Black Americans may be picking up the user slack. In a good way, of course.

One reason for these higher numbers is given by a former editor of The OnionBaratunde Thurston who noted that a long-standing oral dissing tradition has existed in Black communities for years.

Some call it one-upsmanship. Others call it trash talk. Whatever its preferred use, Thurston suggests Blacks might see Twitter as the modern day equivalent of that tradition — using short, terse (140 characters) shout outs and cutups to level the playing field.

He may have a point. In 2010, Thurston gave a presentation called “How to be Black (Online)” at SXSW festival held in Austin, Texas. He noted that mobile use by Blacks (per Pew statistics) are higher than Whites and Hispanics.

In this scenario, as mobile grows in usage and popularity, so too will the use of twitter by Blacks. And that could have a stronger effort in letting our people have more of a voice in news and events, affecting all of us in faster, more immediate ways.

Alicia Nassardeen’s brown Twitter birds were feature in an article by Slate.com in 2010.



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