Welcome to Juan Manuel’s section!

“Ambiente Familiar” Mitrovica Danza Contemporánea (Mexico City) Dirección: Andrea Chirinos Intérpretes: Lilian Coffen, Luis Díaz, Nadia Lartige, Lilian Muller, Andrea Chirinos

Scholars, hi!

Welcome to the space of the nobodies and the forgotten! I’m Juan Manuel. I will be your GSI for summer 2017. As of three weeks ago, I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in performance studies. My work examines choreography and contemporary dance across the United States-Mexico borders.  My current research project gives specific attention to Mexican contemporary choreographers working in cities such as Mexico City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I just started my field work this year; that is, I am out and about conducting interviews with choreographers, watching performances, listening to debates about performance theory and aesthetics in Mexico City, and watching a lot of dance films/shows in dark spaces with strangers that I will never know. My future project will examine the role of the dance quebradita in non-traditional, migrant receiving cities such as New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Omaha. Qubradita was a dance genre popular among working-class migrants in the United States and the rural populations in Mexico.

Nadie-Juan-Sebastian-Mesa-Medellin_LNCIMA20160909_0069_1
Promotional image for the Colombian film for Los Nadie (2016).

For this blog, I am choosing the theme “the nobodies.” I decided to take inspiration from the 2016 film Los Nadie (The Nobodies). The film follows a group of punk youth in the barrios of Medellín, Colombia. They use juggling, friendship, and punk music as a way of life. This story charts my personal interest into the spaces and forms of belonging where the nobodies and the forgotten hang out. I grew up undocumented in Utah. As a working-class Mexican existing outside of the legal bounds of political citizenship and at times below the poverty line, my sense of belonging  was informed by being considered the worst threat to the imaginary of “America.” I consumed television, performances, and music that gave me a sense of belonging to the nobodies and anybody’s: the working-class labor force in and outside of Mexico. I watched telenovelas ( Marimar), listened to Mexican rock/punk (Rebel’dand Mexican banda (El Mexicano), and cried repeatedly while watching films such as Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950), West Side Story (1961), and Macario (1960).

Pina Pellicer in a still image from the film Macario (1960).
Pina Pellicer in a still image from the Mexican film Macario (1960).
Anybody's wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
Anybody’s wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra.
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra. The story follows the many nobodies that try to enter the United States from Mexico.

When I am not watching a performance or writing about a choreographer, I spend my time on Netflix watching the London-based show Chewing Gum. The show is written by and stars Michaela Coel, who plays Tracey, a working-class girl who lives in a municipal housing project. I look forward to working with you as we examine television, social media, and performance. We will work together through this labyrinth of nobodies, anybody’s, and the forgotten to understand how power works through the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, faith, and class.

Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum
Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum

 

BLOG POST (MODULE 12) YESENIA ROGERS: Twisted Trolls Take Twitter (and iFunny)

TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE AND RAPE

The “Trouble at the Koolaid Point” article tells us a lot about the struggle a woman had to face because of “trolls” online. She explains how awful it is for a woman to have to deal with people who don’t feel like they “deserved the attention” and who feel threatened that she (or any other woman is getting the attention at all).

A scary statistic I found about Twitter says that “a study of 134,000 abusive social media mentions showed that 88% of them occur on Twitter.” (Jim Edwards, Buisness Insider)

Although that 88% isn’t specifically all women, the same article also gives this example:

Sue Perkins, the British TV host, gave up using Twitter last week after she received death threats merely because other people had suggested she might make a good replacement for Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.”

This is a real life example of a woman getting attention, who some felt she didn’t “deserve” and so the harassment began. And, escalated quickly. Much how Sierra described it in her writing. It’s almost exactly the same.

Another place where “trolls” lurk would be iFunny. (A social media that is for posting funny pictures or videos and liking or commenting on them)

Below is a picture of an interview with a child. I have no way of actually knowing if this quote is real or not but this is how the picture was displayed on the site.

Module 12 Post

This was meant to be a “joke”.

But the joke isn’t what I’m going to be talking about.

It’s the responses this picture evokes. The reactions it pulls out of people.

In the comment section, you can find a lot of horrible comments about this picture. Things about all the ways they want to “kill” this child, beat them, set them on fire. One guy says “If you can’t beat them, kill them”. You can see that people are just trying to “top” one another in the same way described in “Trouble at the Koolaid Point”. Who can say the “funniest” and worst thing? Who can go that far just for the laughs? (Or, as Kathy Sierra put it, “for the lulz”)

Many different photos on iFunny, a lot that have a woman in it, have a lot of comments having to do with rape.

For this specific photo, many go as far as to literally describe in detail how they plan to  “rape her”. Or suggest that her father should rape her to “set her straight”.

Real quotes, from real people on iFunny. You know, “just being funny”.

Some of these comments are from hours ago. This is something happening right now.

Why are people so comfortable with talking like this online? These are real people you are saying things about. That is a real child somewhere in this world that you are talking about (“joking” about) violating.

And when you see actual people replying and confronting the horrible comments they use the same responses that Sierra says they would.

Oh boohoo someone was mean on the internet.” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. The lectures (and article on Business Insider) suggests that people could be doing this on things like Twitter because of “identity”. People know who you are on FaceBook and LinkedIn. Do these people act this way because it’s easier to get away with? Or could you think of another reason why Twitter and iFunny may be such a popular place for harassment?
  2. How do you think this harassment should be handled? In the lectures, Gail pointed out that some agree nothing should be done to change the free speech. What do you think? Should this be something treated like hate speech in face to face interactions? Or does the internet run on different rules? Should the internet run on different rules?
  3. Do you see things like this often or at all? And, perhaps, do you even see things like this on social media platforms where your identity is known?

References:

Edwards, Jim. “One Statistic Shows That Twitter Has a Fundamental Problem Facebook Solved Years Ago.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 17 Apr. 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/statistics-on-twitter-abuse-rape-death-threats-and-trolls-2015-4
End_Liberalism. “THIS. IS. HILARIOUS.” IFunny.
Sierra, Kathy. “Trouble at the Koolaid Point.” Serious Ponyhttp://seriouspony.com/trouble-at-the-koolaid-point/

BLOG POST(Module 12): MATTHEW KIM, Diversification of Gaming Platforms

dreamdaddy.PNG

The point made by Lindsey Ogle has been the goal in most video games that are popular on various gaming platforms. “Just because the difficulty setting is low, doesn’t mean I won’t personally advance further.” It is problematic because it is a language that is associated with expertise that reinforces masculine ideas: power and control.  I would like to address the “simulation games” category of Steam, a popular computer gaming hub where it is made easy to buy games and interact with Steams private economy. The point of the game is to go on dates with multiple dads and try to get the outcome that suits you. The video game community is in fact predominantly male, and I agree with Todd VanDerWerff’s statement that indie game developers and the online gaming press have gotten too cozy. In my opinion, this entails to the content of games that have been coming out over the past decade that includes predominantly masculine topics. “In his What Culture piece, Ephraim brings up the game Gone Home, about a young woman returning to her house after time away. It was roundly lauded in the gaming press, but Ephraim singles it out as something that was praised only because it engaged with LGBT issues (whereas most of the reviews actually suggest the game was appreciated because it did something very different from other games).” Breitbart, as we know, is notorious for its radical claims, and proceeded to rip apart the game. It was criticized for its SJW topics, even plausibly linked to the causes of real-life crime.

About this game:

“Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other hot Dads. You and your daughter have just moved into the sleepy seaside town of Maple Bay only to discover that everyone in your neighborhood is a single, dateable Dad! Will you go out with Teacher Dad? Goth Dad? Bad Dad? Or any of the other cool Dads in this game? With minigames, sidequests, and a variety of paths and endings, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is this year’s most anticipated Dad-based game.”

This game was created by Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray, a married white, homosexual couple. It seems to me that they can only be knowledgeable of relationships that they have experienced, which I believe that is why their indie game is able to receive a high volume of buys. Many other simulations like this game have been in the man’s perspective but this game is through the eyes of a woman. This I think is a change, but it also sets up opportunities of misunderstanding how real-life interaction works.

Because of its social relevance to current topics, this game may be interpreted as the user pleases, so as a straight man, would I learn about homosexuality through a game like this, or would I create a false interpretation?

Getting lost in this game can make you believe that to get someone you want, you have to say the right things. This simulation gives people more time to create the situation they want, solidifying their personality and decision-making process. This is a distinguishing trait for these simulation games.

The fact that this game was released five days ago concerns me. I don’t think I will ever play simulations like these because I don’t find the joy of faking a romance, or a reality in general.  But I do think that while gaming has taken a forward step in creating more diverse games in the community,  the outcome of any video game is created by you no matter how difficult or long that may take you, and you will be harassed at because of your skill level.

Discussion and Questions

Referring to “Trouble at the Koolaid Point”, do you think that games like this are progressive for the gaming community, knowing how toxic it is?

Just because Steam released this game, many of its players still buy fast-paced action games. Would a straight white male be able to talk about social issues in video games like these?

With trolls being present, how can you see a person taking advantage of this game? Do you think that the positive reviews would be overshadowed by them?

 

Blog Post(Module 10): MATTHEW KIM #PepsiSummer Pepsi’s New Cinnamon Pepsi Continues to Ignite Cultural Backlash

PepsiAd

Many people were upset at the ad that Pepsi put out depicting Kendall Jenner joining a riot and handing a police officer a Pepsi can to stop the protest. With an understanding of performance in a McLuhan fashion, we can understand that the ability to perform to a larger crowd has expanded with the increasing popularity of social media in the 2000’s. Advertisers must now take refine their marketing strategies to target populations that are technologically advanced. A main idea that comes stems from Pearson’s interpretation of Goffman’s reading is that “individuals construct their identities in reaction to their cohorts. To use the language of Web 2.0, individuals construct identities relative to their networks.”(Pearson 2008). This is important to understand why individuals use social media sites and what the large companies are targeting.

What I want to look into is Pepsi’s marketing plan for their beloved soda. We have seen numerous of Pepsi ads that all serve the same purpose, to make us want to drink an ice cold Pepsi. With the season being Summer, Pepsi has carefully laid out many pictures displaying the many different ways you can drink your Pepsi, that is when you buy it. An interesting remark from Markham’s essay is the interplay of self and other. “The Internet also shifts attention toward the way the enactment of self can be edited and altered; for many users, computer-mediated communication promotes a strong sense of control, or freedom to choose how to fill in missing information for others.”(Markham 2012) Referring to the twitter post made by Pepsi previously, we see a woman seen in previous ads sitting on a Penny Board in a skate park. I believe that Pepsi purposely chose a woman, and a Penny Board, instead of a man, and a skateboard, to be inclusive. As a skateboarder, I know that Penny Boards are not skate-able anywhere in the park, and I also know that women skateboarders are less common than male skateboarders. “Pepsi on board #PepsiSummer” can mean a lot of things to various people. What I see is Pepsi making an outreach to women who find themselves secluded from real skateboarders, because in my own experience I know that riding a Penny Board is objectively different, and more relaxed than riding a skateboard. I believe that Pepsi continues to include present topics that touch many different cultural bounds to act inclusively. Like many other skateboarders alike, I was unable to fathom why Pepsi put a person on a Penny Board, because you can’t skate anything on a Penny Board, all you do is ride.

Discussion and Questions

  1. What would you reply to Pepsi’s tweet, knowing that Pepsi is trying to reach out to a more diverse demographic?
  2. What parts of skateboarding culture that you have seen are portrayed in this photo?
  3. How does this ad reinforce a user’s image of themselves? Markham’s observation that “Presentation of self is a deliberate, technical achievement” means that anything we retweet or like can be seen as “writ[ing] ourselves into being”.

BLOG POST (MODULE 11): HIRAM GONZALEZ, Black Twitter and its Unifying Significance

Over the years, Black Twitter has received more attention because of the amount of Twitter users that have participated in this hashtag #blacktwitter, causing it to garner more attention in U.S. audiences. In Andre Brock’s essay, “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation” he says that “Black Twitter refers to the fact that African Americans have, since Twitter’s launch participated in Twitter to a degree that seemed to take internet analysts by surprise.” In other words, Black Twitter is a virtual community that focuses on the issues and interests of the Black community, primarily in the United States. This can range from political issues, to comedic current events going on in the African American community.

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In the picture with all the hashtags you can see how most of them are referring to socio-political events happening within the African American community. This picture of the hashtags conceptualizes what Sarah Florini tells us in her essay, “Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: communication and cultural performance on Black Twitter”. She tells us is that, “What does exist are millions of African American users on Twitter, networking, connecting, and engaging with other who have similar concerns, experiences, tastes, and cultural practices”. This ties into the picture of the hashtags because we can see very famous hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #icantbreathe become viral through the connecting and engaging that Florini talks about. These have been some of the most trending hashtags on not just the Black Twitter community but the overall Twitter community because of the amount of retweets and posts that it has received. 

In the second picture there is a meme regarding the current topics about R.Kelly running a sex cult and Usher contracting herpes. This can be further explicated through Sanjay Sharma’s: “Black Twitter?: Racial hashtags, Networks, and Contagion”. He tells us that “Black twitter works through users retweeting and replying to tweets within specific hashtags, causing those hashtags to trend, and making them into memes.” The second picture depicts a girl being taped on the shoulder by both R. Kelly and Usher as she has to decide if she wants to join a sex cult or receive herpes. These two current situations between R. Kelly and Usher should be taken very seriously however Black Twitter has turned them into more of a joke. In addition, O.J. Simpson was given a release date from prison the same week these two incidents were occurring and Black Twitter did not hold back on generating all sorts of creative memes. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 10.01.05 PM.png

This image can be seen as a diss to O.J. Simpson, R. Kelly, and Usher. But in this context, a diss is more along the lines of what Florini calls, “shared experiences of humor and critique”. 

Finally in the last picture, there are brown Twitter birds that show how ‘Black people use Twitter.’ This picture went viral because of the different depictions that were portrayed as if these were the only categories that Black Twitter users fall under. This example can relate to Jeff Yang’s piece, “Stephen Colbert: Racism and the weaponized hashtag”. It relates to it because the picture was seen as highly offensive by the Black Twitter community and different weaponized hashtags were “used to rally support around a political cause.” In all cases, Black Twitter has become a space for primarily Black Twitter users to engage in different cultural conversations as a way to garner support or move on with ideas and concepts that are important. By doing so, this community has become one that is very unique in its origin and continuum.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you use social media as a way to connect with different audiences that share similar views to yourself?
  2. Can you give an example of a time you saw a hashtag go viral? How was this seen in your social media community? Did the hashtag start something, or did it propagate a situation?
  3. What are the pros and cons of Black Twitter? If they had to pick, what side would Brock, Florini, and Yang be on?

Relevant Readings:

  1. Andre Brock, From the Blackhand side: Twitter as a cultural conversation
  2. Sarah Florini, Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: communication and cultural performance on Black Twitter
  3. Sanjay Sharma, Black Twitter?: Racial hashtags, Networks, and Contagion
  4. Jeff Yang, Stephen Colbert: Racism and the weaponized hashtag

 

Thoughts and comments welcome below!

 

BLOG POST (MODULE 11) Tashya Jones, Black Twitter and the Subconscious Division between the Black Community.

Twitter, the main social network where a person can speak their mind in 140 characters or less. Inside this social network, there is an aspect that functions as more than a commonplace safe haven for Black users to challenge normative structures. This is Black Twitter. Now, everyone loves the content produced from black twitter – the memes, the humor, the apologetic truth, etc – but nobody wants to be involved in Black Twitter.

In a sense, Black Twitter functions as  a global village among users. Through numerous hashtags, users across the nation feel more interconnected by participating in these “trending topics”.With the hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter or #BlackGirlMagic, Twitter serves as space where black teens simultaneously can voice their opinions on social issues and affirm each other.Twitter also builds a community when culture affecting moments are present such as the BET Awards, and the Presidential Election.

What’s powerful about Black Twitter is how users discuss the politics of racial privilege beyond a black and white world.A classical debate on Black Twitter is use of the of hashtags #TeamLightskin and #TeamDarkskin are forms of colorism. For those unfamiliar, colorism is the discrimination against individuals with a darker skin tone, typically among people of the same racial group. Going back as far as slavery, the Light Skin vs Dark Skin debate has been a long conflict within the Black community. With Twitter, this debate has become a common hashtag that has never left.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zd-qvqRQqI (please watch 0:00 – 3:00)

TRIGGER WARNING: MILD PROFANITY

This video is an example of how hashtags lead to the negative portrayal of African Americans on Black Twitter. The hashtags were created on the basis of humor, so people who felt they were “lightskin” or “darkskin” could relate on person experiences related to their skin complexion. As this debate became a trending topic, non black users began to typed their tweets away. Thus beginning the debate on which is better: lighter skin or darker skin. This war has created deep rooted hatred & jealousy within black culture which can be easily measured up against the hate African Americans as a whole have experienced from racism. Within the archives of the hashtag, you can find media with the intent on stereotyping a certain shade of an African American can also be found. You may also find darker skin individuals shaming light skin individuals for not looking “100% black”. This process of one form of blackness versus another is a display of bell hooks’ idea of eating the othering. The hashtags create a normative view of what it means to be black, and at the same time fetishizes the differences of blackness.

From Andre Brock’s article “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation”, he refers back to WEB Dubois’ idea of double consciousness. Similar to Twitter, double consciousness allows people to see the multiple discourses of whiteness and blackness. By seeing these disparities, users are able to understand how each ethnicity is seen. However it is not productive to have a community beefing with each other on the basis of skin complexion.

According to Brock, Black Twitter is  understood as a ‘‘public group of specific Twitter users’’. Since it is public, every users on Twitter – black and non black – can participate in these trends. There is no Twitter police to stop a non black person from entering the realm of Black Twitter.Black Twitter has the vocabulary, the deepest pop cultural frame of reference, and the spirit of improvisation to ruin a person’s social media career. Once there is racism, Black Twitter unites ! Users will begin to send backlash about racism, or warn other users about this racism. We have seen Black Twitter defend themselves after the dominant white majority created the hashtag #growingupwhite in response to the success of #growingupblack.

With all of that, I leave you all with questions to think about. Please send me feedback, comments, questions, and concerns. Thanks for reading !

  1. Why do negative portrayals of minorities help bring them together?
  2. Where else do you see issues of colorism on social media? How are the different shades of a certain ethnicity are challenged on social media ?
  3. How does the debate between #teamlightskin vs #teamdarkskin affects  newer generations who are creating Twitters?
  4. Do you feel that Black Twitter is a part of Black Culture ?

Readings:

bell hooks, “Eating the Other”

Marshall McLuhan, “At the moment of Sputnik the planet became a global theater…”

André Brock, “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation”

BLOG POST(Module 11): EBRU KASIKARALAR, Black Twitter as the village of Black Americans

Black Twitter Please watch till 3:00.

Launched in 2006, Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows its users to share their ideas with 140 character limited short messages (tweets) and also get feedback and reactions on their posts with retweets, likes or comments from other users. Therefore it is a social media platform which enables people to get together, communicate with each other publicly and make their voices become louder and be heard by a larger community. Black Americans are a growing group of Twitter users who use the application disproportionately to the size of their population in the U.S.
“According to a 2010 Edison Research and Arbitron study, although Black Americans make up only 12 to 13 percent of the U.S. population, they comprised 24 percent of the seventeen million Twitter users in the United States (Saint 2010)” (Florini). Moreover, they are more active than white Americans who consist of only 19 percent of Twitter users compared with 26 percent of Black Americans.

In her essay “Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: Communication and Cultural Performance on ‘Black Twitter,’” Florini states that “I should be clear that Black Twitter does not exist in any unified or monolithic sense. Just as there is no “Black America” or single “Black culture,” there is no “Black Twitter.” What does exist are millions of Black users on Twitter networking, connecting, and engaging with others who have similar concerns, experiences, tastes, and cultural practices. Black people are not a monolith.”

Black_Twitter_Birds (1)

This illustration of the brown Twitter bird by Alex Even Meyer shows the fact that a very diverse group of Black people who have different socioeconomic or cultural background see Twitter as a platform of solidarity. By using ‘Blacktags’ such as #onlyintheghetto, #if santawasblack or #blacknerds and showing various aspects of their community with a comedic effect, this diverse population in the U.S society is trying to efface the ingrained stereotypes surrounding black people in society. Furthermore, as mentioned in the video, hashtags such as #ferguson and #oscarssowhite show their fight against injustices against their community and make them see Twitter as a platform that gathers like-minded people together and so gives them a powerful voice.

There are certain patterns of expressions that people use on ‘Black Twitter’ which come from the way Black people have interacted with each other in their communities over the years. “Generations of Black Americans have used signifyin’ as a space for the expression of Black cultural knowledge, as a vehicle for social critique, and as a means of creating group solidarity” (Florini,3). Signifyin’ can be defined as a form of Black American oral tradition which includes “marking, woofing, playing the dozens, sounds, loud talking.” The video where Black Twitter is described as analogous to barber shops shows us why signifyin’ is an essential part of Black Twitter. For black people, signifyin’ was a collaborative practice that fostered group solidarity within their community. It was a fundamental concept of Black people’s daily conversations among each other. Therefore, Twitter has now become the place for cultural discussion, and because signifyin’ was a part of that culture, it now has become an essential element of communications on ‘Black Twitter.’ Moreover, dissing also takes an important part on Black Twitter. It prioritizes verbal dexterity, wit, and wordplay, yet unlike its negative meaning or usage dissing is a way of joking around among Black community instead of a way of insulting that would generate animosity. Therefore, signifyin’ and dissing are commonly used on posts or on ‘Blacktags’ whose content connotes black vernacular expressions and slangs in the form of humor and social commentary.

If Black Twitter Went On A Date With You 

For example, in the video ‘If Black Twitter Went On A Date With You,’ we can see how slangs, signifyin’ and dissing were used on posts about a situation which many people of the black community would find relatable and give reactions similarly. It is a situation that can be discussed by black people in their daily conversation. Therefore, by using many vernacular expressions unique to their group, Black people see twitter as a platform where they can reflect the opinions of their community in political, social, cultural and everyday topics and so can make their voices be heard.

With that, I leave you with a few question to think about. As always, I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts, and analysis on this topic! Thanks for reading!

1- Why do you think Black Americans need a social platform through which they can find solidarity?

2- Why do you think Black Twitter is more commonly known and influential than other groups of Twitter users who are members of other ethnic groups in the U.S? Can it be because Black Americans think they are confronted with more injustice in society?

3- Do you think Black Twitter has made the black community more powerful and active in today’s society?

Readings :

Sarah Florini, “Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: Communication and Cultural Performance on ‘Black Twitter’

BLOG POST (Module 11): ALI MUKALED, The Greatness of Black Twitter

In the clip above, you can see an example of how Black Twitter comes together and makes fantastic commentary through live-tweeting. Although this is a fictional date, this type of live tweeting through memes, “roasts”, and other kinds of commentary is common to see happening on Twitter (usually led by Black Twitter) for awards shows, sporting events, or any other live broadcast of some sort. In my opinion, this commentary makes the live event so much better and more entertaining. Like when I saw Kevin Durant hit that go-ahead clutch three in Lebron’s face during the NBA finals or when I saw Nicki Minaj come at Miley Cyrus at the 2015 VMA’s, the first thing I did was pull out my phone and see what people were saying about it and what kind of memes have already been made.

 

As Gail discusses in her lecture, Florini’s main point in her essay “Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: Communication and Cultural Performance on ‘Black Twitter'” is that “many African American users, who could avoid being identified being identified as racial minorities on a social network like twitter, choose to mark themselves as raced individuals, and to engage in a communicative practice, signifyin’, that has traditionally served to create and strengthen a sense of racial identity.” Florini describes “signifyin’” on Black Twitter, as allowing “black users not only to reject color blindness by actively performing their racial identities, but also to connect with other black users to create and reify a social space for their blackness” (Gail Lecture). What this means to me is that Black Twitter is a place where black users can come together and celebrate their culture. It is the opposite of a place where they have to hide their blackness, like they may unfortunately have to do in some places in society where they aren’t accepted for who they are. 

The thing I love the most about Black Twitter though, is that for the most part it is a playful, entertaining environment which is why Black Twitter consistently generates trending hashtags. As stated by Sanjay Sharma, “Black Twitter’s hashtags can be contagious because, they are effectively memes.” It gets everyone involved in these original, creative hashtags that aren’t always limited to Black culture. Which leads me to another great part of Black Twitter, “roasts.” Florini describes “roasts” as “disses” but I feel like the word “diss” has a more negative connotation while a “roast” is completely playful and not meant to be taken personal. These collective roasts bring users together, most times at a friend or a celebrity’s expense, and at the end of the day it is all just jokes. 

Here is a clip of DCYoungFly Roasting SouljaBoy after SouljaBoy’s alleged beef with Migos (Trigger Warning: Excessive Language):

DC YoungFly’s (hilarious) roast poked fun at a previously hostile situation and eased the tension, reminding everyone that it’s not that serious. 

Discussion Questions:

Can you think of another ethnicity that comes together like Black Twitter on Twitter or another social media platform?

Do you think Black Twitter will have a positive or negative impact on the Black Community in the long run?

Have you ever fell victim to a “roast”, and how did you take it?

Although these “roasts” are meant to just be fun and games, do you think they can be harmful to society as a whole if people take it the wrong way?

Thank you for reading 🙂 Comments, questions, and feedback are appreciated!

Relevant Readings:

Sarah Florini, “Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: Communication and Cultural Performance on ‘Black Twitter’

Sanjay Sharma, “Black Twitter?: Racial Hashtags, Networks and Contagion”

Requiem for a Meme