A Popular Black Twitter Story, Part III


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

Wesley Lowery, 60 minutes + corresponding: Black Twitter’s heartbeat was right, insert random black user who had something funny that day or made a thread or talked about $ 200 dates. It was that democratic process. It was an open mic black night. Once Black Twitter started to be seen as that tangible thing that you could study, own, or quantify, some of that magic wore off.

Browne: Originally, it seemed like people were doing it for at least the right reasons. Since Black Lives Matter and a lot of things got profitable, I think we’re now in a second wave where I think some people are going into this game for the wrong reason.

Lawson: Twitter is just a reflection 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 certainly always a middle ground.

But it’s important to remember that some users, especially women and gays, never felt comfortable on the platform.

C. Thompson: I’m warming up. I hate to see the way black women are treated. I get abused here by black men all the time.

Meredith Clark, author of a forthcoming book on Black Twitter: Black Twitter is not a very safe and welcoming space when it comes to discussions about gender or when it comes to discussions about non-normative identity or being queer.

Raquel Willis, trans rights activist: I never felt comfortable at first. Transphobia and trans misogyny were so common that even some of the people we consider most aroused now, or most depressed, were shit about trans people online.

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

Brock: Hotep, which is an Egyptian word, has come to represent a certain type of toxic masculinity. These men believe that women should know their place. Much of this is black incel culture. Tariq Nasheed grew up during this period.

Willis: Tariq Nasheed has terrorized black women, queer and trans black people for years. It is almost impossible for a white institution, which are all these social media companies, to hold intra-community damage accountable. It’s not possible for Twitter, as a business, to hold black personalities to account in the same way they can hold right-wing white personalities to account – and they still don’t do a good job.

Brock: All these constituencies have as active a presence on Twitter as the queer youth, as the educated black bourgeoisie, the Blavity Blacks. So there’s this constant stream of comments about the things they think black people should and shouldn’t do.

Mayard: Now we’re learning lessons — and we’re like, “Oh, no. You cannot run and hide in the community if you are an aggressor or an oppressor. We hold each other accountable.

Willis: And Twitter is a big space for political education. People understand the amount of violence black trans people face – and, of course, appreciate the beauty of our experiences – which largely comes from Black Twitter. I can only imagine how many people first found out about Marsha P. Johnson or Sylvia Rivera via a tweet.



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