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”

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9 thoughts on “BLOG POST (Module 11): ALI MUKALED, The Greatness of Black Twitter”

  1. I think Black Twitter will have a positive impact on the Black community in the long run, it helps that there is an easy access to such a large community with people to talk to about a range of topics for the people active in this community. Additionally, through these “roasts”, people can come together as the roasts often target public figures or a virtual entity instead of a single individual. It allows the user to take part in a collaborative environment. I have seen microcosms of ethnicities on other social media. One example is the WeChat app that is popular among different Asian groups, specifically Chinese Americans. It allows the easy communication between individuals that is rare to find elsewhere. Social media platforms offer a convenient way to get in touch with and stay connected with people who have similar experiences and backgrounds. It allows people, specifically marginalized communities, to build up strong bases and communities without any physicality. I believe that these social media platforms will have a great positive impact on communities as it enables communication and dispersion of information on a scale that hasn’t been seen before.

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  2. Nice job, Ali! I really enjoyed reading your blog post and thinking about your discussion questions.

    Black Twitter—at least its comedic component—seems to extend to Instagram. I think Black Twitter (and Instagram) will have a positive impact on the black community in the long run. Twitter (and Instagram, I guess) seems to provide a means for sharing stories that might not otherwise make it on the evening news, which tends to feature a limited scope of blackness.
    I have fallen victim to multiple “roasts” before. I must admit that I am a little more sensitive than some of my friends, but I do not think I am alone in having experienced a genuinely hurtful roast before. Some people just don’t seem to think before they speak! Although “roasts” are usually meant in good spirit, they sometimes truly hurt an individual’s feelings and can ultimately be harmful to society as a whole if people take them the wrong way (and by this I mean have their feelings hurt). It is imperative that we are compassionate and use common sense when “roasting” others.

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  3. Very nice piece, my friend! I’m sure most of have seen roasts like the one that you posted, and I find them to be hilarious, just down right hilarious. I also liked your video of the live Twitter-feed. Very nice. I do think that humor has been a large part of the African American community for very many years, actually for centuries even. I read James Weldon Johnson’s book, The Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man a year or so ago, and I’ll never forget a short passage in which he mentions the humor of African Americans. He relates hearing two gentlemen have a discussion about some other gentleman who’s kind of a goofy dude; one says to the other (and this is a paraphrase), “He your friend?”, to which the other responds (and this is a direct, though not a full quote), “My friend? He my friend?” And then he proceeds to joke about it. I’ll never forget this passage, and it has a special place in my heart, because I served five years in the United States Army, and I served with quite a few African American men. They were great men, men who fought and sweated for their country. Yet, I’ll never forget their love of humor, because I also have a love of humor. Some of the funniest moments in the Army involved African American soldiers. They loved to have a good time, and so did I. I don’t think that Black Twitter will have a negative impact on the African American community in the long run, but I’m not entirely sure. I could very much be wrong. I think it won’t because African Americans already engage in roasts and such offline. They may their own internal disputes, but what community doesn’t? I think Black Twitter offers African Americans a platform, and a space to perform their own identities, and to get their voices heard. They discuss very serious matters in their own creative ways, which I think is wonderful. Plus, their humor is on point. Black Twitter has my blessing. #BlackTwitterForever

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  4. Hi Ali! Nice post! I love the video you opened your blogpost with! It’s hilarious and super cute! I agree that Black Twitter both provides a community and platform for Black people to come together and not hide their “blackness” but celebrate it. I think something similar to Black Twitter could be #PraisinTheAsian where Asians all over Twitter came together to post pictures of themselves to appreciate each other and their ethnicity. This hashtag highlighted the Asian community on Twitter and brought the community up from the backlash and negative news recently regarding David Dao and racist acts committed against the Asian community in the U.S. I think in the long run, Black Twitter will have a positive effect on the Black Community, because it brings so many people together to talk about issues, relate to one another, and have a laugh and remind each other that “life ain’t that bad” (some tweet I saw on Twitter).

    In regard to “roasts”, I think more people have to realize these statements are to be taken lightly, although they sometimes can go too far. Whenever I’m in the hot seat for a roast, I do my best to laugh it off and let it brush over since I know that the people “roasting” me are saying what they say in a lighthearted manner. But I do think these roasts can go overboard sometimes, especially when it comes to ethnic subjects. For example, during the election, there were tons of roasts on Twitter and a lot of people took roasting way too far to the point where things became hostile and intentionally hurtful to all parties. In short, I guess roasts are fun to an extent, and more people have to be aware of the line that they shouldn’t cross when it comes to these kind of things.

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  5. So first and foremost, perhaps it is because I do not use social media but I don’t really see how these memes that I have seen every group use constitutes “Black Twitter” perhaps the subject matter, use of Ebonics, and this “roast” culture is at the heart of the community, but for the most part it simply seems like people acting as they do on the internet. I will occasionally peruse for memes which I suppose counts to some degree as social media even if only viewing and not taking part, but I see ethnically pointed memes, discussion, and subject matter relatively often I would think that the scale is the only real thing that sets apart “Black Twitter” from any other group’s activity acting primarily within that group through social media.
    So, after listening to Professor De Kosnik’s lecture and reading Florini’s essay, “Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: Communication and Cultural Performance on ‘Black Twitter'”, I can definitely see the concept that Black Twitter can offer essentially a safehaven from judgment over use of language or cultural intricacies that might be made in other venues, I think the positive or negative impact can be defined by the subject matter and who rises to lead the virtual community. If there are positive role models and leaders than I can see Black Twitter serving as a unifying vessel for a significantly divided community; however, even though I don’t use social media I am no stranger to the “just lightskin things” or other divisive memes and jokes that go on within and between the community.
    I have had friends who attempt to pull similar things on me in person, but they quickly learn that is not a wise strategy with someone with a very dark sense of humor as I have. As I don’t really use social media I have never experienced the social media roast, but I am no stranger to the concept or attempts at it, I tend to be the “roaster” far more than the “roastee.”
    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?
    I think there is no “wrong way” to take any humor, there are people who will find it funny and those who won’t I will laugh at things that others often feign disgust or are offended by constantly, but that does not mean it’s not funny or amusing it simply means that they have a different opinion then I do and we both have a right to it. I think if people humble themselves and realize that people have different opinions whilst also being mindful that some people are more sensitive than others we can find a healthy middle-ground in “roast culture.”

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  6. Hi Ali I really enjoyed reading your post. I honestly believe that social spaces like Black Twitter must exist to dispel all the stereotypes, racism, and misconceptions we have about black people and their culture. Black Twitter provides such a rich, humorous, and culturally defining space where black users can come together and form some kind of collective identity that distinguishes them from other races whether it be in the form of roasts or memes. I can draw comparisons of this type of presence to the Asian American community’s activity on Twitter. Many of these tweeters poke fun and automatically dispel the Asian misconceptions such as being “good at math” and “not being good at sports” in a similar style as Black Twitter. It provides them a space to joke about the outrageous nature of these conjured up misconceptions while at the same time providing them a community where they could discuss their ideas, celebrate their culture, and just be themselves. In the long run, Black Twitter is necessary to give a different kind of life and meaning to the social media presence online. It brings a distinct kind of richness that cannot be found elsewhere and can be seen as a vital cultural jewel on social media. As for being a victim of a roast, I have been offended by some comments especially those which hit me personally in terms of my attitude and behaviors yet mostly I just shrug them off as funny jokes. After all, everybody has roasted another person at some point. Yet, that does not mean a roast cannot be offensive just because everyone has fallen victim to it or committed one in the past. It really depends on the context of the roast and where you roast as well, as sometimes certain people may be more sensitive than others to such disses.

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  7. Hi, Ali, I think you picked two great clips, they were both really enjoyable to watch!
    I think in the long run Black Twitter will have a positive impact on the Black Community. As Florini describes in her essay and as Gail describes in her lecture, Black Twitter allows black users to strengthen their racial identity and create a social space for blackness. I think you surmised this point perfectly when you mentioned that Black Twitter is a place where black culture can be celebrated.This celebration is exactly why Black Twitter will have a positive impact. It will serve a starting point for the celebration of black culture in other social spaces in American society. It also allows black users to show the type of representation they want to see for the black community to a a mass audience.
    As far of roasts go, yes, I have been definitely been on the receiving end of a roast. From what I have perceived, as a young adult male, roasts are inevitable and getting roasted by your friends has become a sort of rite of passage to adulthood. They start in middle school, and during that unconformable time in our lives, the roasts tend to hurt more. But these roasts sort of give you thick skin and teach you not to take yourself too seriously. In high school and college, roast take on more a more humorous and playful tone.
    There are certain situations where roasts can be harmful. The most common is when someone gets roasted by someone they do not know well. In this situation, the tone goes from playful to toxic very fast. Additionally, if you roast someone and you bring up a topic that is extremely personal and goes beyond understood boundaries, the roast can become hurtful.

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  8. Hi Ali, thanks for this informative and hilarious post! I really enjoyed the Black Twitter on a date video, and I found all the reaction gifs and memes to be really representative of a lot of Black Twitter happenings. It was interesting to see how there was a lot of signifyin’ going on by the users in the video, and how none of their tweets felt mean-spirited or ill intentioned. Rather, it truly felt like there was a close group of people gathered around to watch this date occur in real time. This is where I think Black Twitter and Twitter in general really succeeds, when it’s able to offer users the feeling of being in a room with close friends.

    One ethnicity that comes together on Twitter is South Asians. This group is nowhere near as many as other larger factions such as Black Twitter, but I have noticed a few groups of tightly knit South Asians. Their group is tied tightly around the NBA, and went as far as handing out “brown basketball” rankings for which people they thought was the best at NBA Twitter. However, their discussions are not just about basketball, but also around a lot of racial issues, like the problematic portrayal of brown women in the new movie The Big Sick. I wouldn’t have known about this issue too well, but following the people in this group on Twitter allowed me to understand the different points of view surrounding this issue. Although I have interacted with the people in this group before, neither they nor really any other person on Twitter has roasted me, mostly because I don’t tweet that often. I think roasting as a group can be productive, especially if it is against a fictional target like the example in Florini’s essay, because that can foster community and build relationships between people. However, I am not sure how good of an idea it is to roast people you don’t know that well, because you don’t know if you’re roasting is actually bullying.

    I believe Black Twitter will have a positive impact on the black community in the long run, since I agree with Florini when she says, “these iterations of signifyin’ can be used to engage in social critique and to promote group solidarity.” I believe Black Twitter is a platform that allows African-Americans and potentially other races that are scared of speaking out about their interests and perspectives a platform on which they can say their ideas without critique. Moreover, signifyin’ calls upon a long held tradition in the black community, and the fact that it is carrying over to Twitter shows that Black Twitter is upholding strong beneficial habits to foster community. However, I do fear when other groups join in on Black Twitter that they are eating the Other, and simply trying to appropriate Ebonics slang and what they think African American culture is, rather than trying to understand the actual greatness of Black Twitter. It’s my hope that Black Twitter continues to be a safe space for African-Americans to have their own voice without fear of being looked down upon.

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  9. Hey Ali, I think you chose a great clip to show a literal personification of Black Twitter. I really like how the video took the aspect of live tweeting and applied it to the niche culture of Black Twitter. I also feel like the video does a very good job of showing how Black Twitter has its own niche even within Twitter’s meme culture, and how it shows the importance of knowing memes to display cultural competence. I honestly cannot think think of any other cultures that display a social space similar to that of Black Twitter, but I would argue that online fandoms do operate in a similar way. I think that Black Twitter has a positive affect on the black community in the long run because it allows for a social space for black users to perform their racial identities.

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