With well over 600 million active users, it was always apparent that Twitter would become a powerful social vehicle, but in recent years it has been a niche community inside the social media giant that has unveiled itself as being unbelievably and undeniably powerful.
Every now and then you may see the hashtag — #BlackTwitter — but most of the time you will find yourself unknowingly stumbling upon Black Twitter’s hilarious antics or growing social movements.
Black Twitter is the name that was given to the community within Twitter that has always held Black popular culture, news and controversies at the center of its timeline.
While it initially became famous for outrageous jokes and sparking worldwide trending topics in a matter of minutes, it has recently become the latest and perhaps one of the most effective tools for social justice and racial equality.
Black Twitter’s list of accomplishments includes the cancellation of a book deal for a juror in the George Zimmerman case; Reebok’s rejection of rapper Rick Ross’ endorsement deal after his infamous date rape lyrics; and more recently, promoter Damon Feldman’s withdrawal of a George Zimmerman celebrity boxing match.
The community has managed to use clever hashtags to gain support from other Twitter users across the globe to achieve commendable goals, all through the use of 140 characters and countless numbers of retweets.
“It’s kind of like the Black table in the lunchroom, sort of, where people of like interests and experiences and ways of talking and communication, lump together and talk among themselves,” said Tracy Clayton, a blogger and editor at BuzzFeed.
During Zimmerman’s trial, Black Twitter began sending out its own BuzzFeed-type lists with the hashtag #BlackBuzzFeed, which put BuzzFeed’s social media to shame.
“Black Twitter made this the No. 2 hashtag worldwide,” BuzzFeed later tweeted about the #BlackBuzzFeed hashtag. “Our wig has thoroughly been snatched. *Bows down.*”
Even the NAACP realized the momentum and power behind Black Twitter and made the community a part of its strategies.
The NAACP used hashtags like #TooMuchDoubt to gain support for halting the execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, and the #OscarGrant hashtag trended nation wide, leading to support for the film “Fruitvale Station.” The film documented the life of the young Black man who was unjustly killed by a police officer.
“We realized more than anyone that we had to go in that direction and we’ve done it,” NAACP interim President Lorraine Miller said of the organization’s social media use.
Perhaps the real magic behind Black Twitter is the combination of fighting for justice and captivating comedy.
Black Twitter gains attention through humor, while also bringing attention to major issues.
For example, when celebrity chef Paula Deen admitted to using racial slurs in the past, Black Twitter created the hashtag #PaulasBestDishes, which began trending nationwide.
The hashtag earned tons of laughs with imaginary recipes like “Massa-Roni and Cheese,” “We Shall Over-Crumb Cake,” “Three-Fifths Compromise Cheesecake,” “Coon on the Cob” and “Swing Low, Sweet Cherry Pie.”
At the same time it garnered attention to Deen’s remarks, created a national discussion via Twitter about the use of the N-word and led to the cancellation of several of Deen’s endorsement deals.
In short, Black Twitter has stepped to the forefront as the lead watchdog when it comes to racial injustice and other controversial issues.