Dane McMillan | Correspondent
As defined by Shani O. Hilton, “Black twitter is, “loosely speaking, thousands of Black Twitterers who a) are interested in issues of race in the news and pop culture and b) tweet A LOT.” Who knew we would get “our own” twitter? On the surface, it may seem like a joke, specifically because a lot of #BlackTwitter is really tweeting about pop culture and making jokes. Once you get past the jokes though, Black Twitter is really the new format for the Black community to come together to discuss issues that affect them, and as a means to start a movement. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rapper J. Cole spoke about the Trayvon Martin case and how Twitter could play a role in where we go from here. “Twitter, as crazy as it is for me to say this, is the first black community we’ve had in a long time. It’s a real opportunity for blacks to have a sense of community again, have leaders, and really just movement,” says Cole.
50 years after the March on Washington, back when it wasn’t nearly as easy as it is now for blacks to come together and fight for something, Twitter could now serve as the medium for our “modern day marches.” And since its inception back in 2009, #BlackTwitter already has a few victories under its belt.
A few months ago, Paula Deen made some very offensive remarks about her idea for a “southern plantation wedding,” used the n-word, and then admitted to having said it in the past. Once this story broke on the news, Black Twitter was right there to share its opinion, and arguably added fuel to the fire that led to her necessary apology.
After the Trayvon Martin verdict, Juror B37 found a book agent to help her write her story about her experience as a juror on this case. And even though Juror B37’s identity is still protected to this day, Black Twitter quickly shut down the idea of her “cashing in” on a book deal off of Trayvon’s murder. There were tweets with her book agent’s twitter account, email address, home address, and phone number being retweeted all over twitter so that people could, for lack of a better word, “encourage” her to drop the book deal. And sure enough, Juror B37’s deal was dropped. The explanation as to why? “Being sequesterd had shielded me from the depth of pain that exists among the general public over every aspect of this case.” Which is the long way of saying, “Black Twitter made sure that I knew it wasn’t okay.”
Black Twitter isn’t just a joke. It’s easy to assume so when some of the trending topics during award shows or even Catfish can have you in tears just from reading the tweets. It is entertaining, but when the fun and games are over, Black Twitter can be so much more. 50 years after the March on Washington, Black Twitter can be responsible for setting up rallies and marches and forming movements on its own. J. Cole said it himself, it’s the first black community we’ve had in a long time. It’s impossible to ignore this opportunity for Blacks to move forward. We’ve come a long way in 50 years, let’s see how much further we can get in another 50.