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”

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5 thoughts on “BLOG POST (MODULE 11) Tashya Jones, Black Twitter and the Subconscious Division between the Black Community.”

  1. Hi Tashya! I really enjoyed reading your blog post. You explained Twitter and Black Twitter really well. You also analyzed colorism that exists in the African American community clearly which helped me understand and realize that colorism exists practically everywhere. I see colorism in the Indian culture quiet a bit. I often see how Indian celebrities on social media promote skin whitening creams such as Fair and Lovely. They say that if they use this cream is helps brighten their skin and lightens the skin up to 3 colors lighter. Even in this day and age, where many Indians on social media announce that they are proud to be dark skinned and don’t care if they aren’t considered beautiful because they are light skinned. They say they are comfortable and feel beautiful in the skin they are in. However, huge influences like the Indian actors and actresses, promote light skinned only beauty and that harbors discrimination among ethnicities. They bring back the moving society a few steps backward after they moved ahead one step by promotion such things only in the name of money. They celebs who promote such discriminative objects don’t realize the widespread effect it causes. Due to such advertisements and old views, many continue to still believe that being light skinned makes an individual beautiful and more suitable for success in their life and marriage. However, many individuals who don’t fall for the promotions by such ads, unite on social media and make fun of these skin lightening creams and accept what color they are born with, as well as others. As you had mentioned, by being active on social media, double consciousness allows the Indian public and others to see the disparities and understand how ethnicities view each other. This also allows many to see how discrimination between ethnicities exist and how to fall under its trap. Though, many are still stuck in old world views around discourses around light skinned beauty, many are combating that idea and are trying to move forward.

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  2. Hey there! I really enjoyed reading your insightful analysis on Black twitter and the possible discrimination that occurs even within the black community. I believe that negative portrayals of minorities help bring them together because there is a commonality on which they are able to build a foundation to build and unite upon. When several individuals of similar backgrounds face a similar type of discrimination or negative treatment, it is cause for anger and a call to unite against those mistreating them. I believe colorism is an issue greatly in social media. Personally, being from India, I am very aware of colorism existing between North and South Indians based on their skin tone. As south Indians are much darker, they often face discrimination from lighter skin Indians. I believe that this debate affects newer generations who are creating Twitter because they are able to see both sides of the debate, and therefore create their own understanding of this issue. I feel as though Black Twitter is a part of Black Culture; however, it is a bit of an anomaly because Black twitter is not restricted simply to the Black Community. As we observed in our first discussion question, Black Twitter consists on individuals who many identify with that culture; however, are still activist in support of fighting against injustice.

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  3. I would like to start off by saying that I really loved your post, and as a user of Twitter found many differences in the experiences that I have than those of minority people. I think it is clear that we must realize that there are major issues that social media can help to give light to overall. I think that negative portrayals of minorities bring them together because it helps them to realize the way the world sees them and unites them against a common “enemy.” I think it is clear to see that there is no way that they would argue against each other when they see a problem that is being aimed at their entire race. I think it must be clear to everyone that is looking that there is only one way to react when someone or something takes aim at you for no reason what so ever. I believe this is why these negative portrayals help the communities to band together against the common thing that is attacking or hurting them. I see colorism in many parts of social media no matter what site may be hosting it whether it be twitter, facebook, or google plus colorism is something that everyone has to deal with if they are a minority on the internet. I think different shades of ethnicity are challenged on the internet by people believing that because they are of a certain race or cultural belief they can bully others under the guides that they are protected by the internet as a whole. I think that the light skin versus dark skin debate is one that can cause a lot of harm to younger generations that are just now starting to get involved or active in twitter. I think it is clear to see why people of different races are having trouble in the social media spheres because it is clear that these people are being forced to adopt an identity before they even have a chance. I don’t think that Black Twitter is really part of the Black culture because it really isn’t just about race, but also about the ideas that are coming out of them. It is very clear to me that Black Twitter is a way of expression for the black community but it isn’t necessarily part of the culture of these communities as a whole. All in all, I really loved the post and the interesting facts that you brought up in it. Thank You.
    Saliba.

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  4. Hello,

    After reading your blog post I find it extremely interesting how you used the word “village” to describe this community that lies inside this Black Twitter. Also, the concept of colorism is very detailed and well explained with the example of those two hashtags #Teamlightskin and #Teamdarkskin; which are still prominent not only on twitter but also on Instagram! I see those hashtags still appear, even earlier today as I am writing this blogpost.

    To answer your first question,

    I feel that negative portrayals of minorities bring them together because there is that “empathetic cloud” that surrounds all minorities. At some point in their lives, minorities of different backgrounds have lived similar struggles that possibly other minorities have felt which gives them both similarities to share. Having such similarities from previous experiences creates connections and also possible solutions to such struggles hence the creation of certain groups such as the ACLU.

    To answer your second question,

    Besides twitter, Instagram is possibly the second greatest places to use hashtags and colorism is still very prominent. Something interesting to consider is that colorism is greatly distorted when it comes to pictures posted on Instagram. Because many photo applications have filters that can make anyone seem lighter or darker, that in itself is already a flaw. Personally, if I were to really analyze someone for their skin color and only their skin color, I would see someone with medium to dark skin use lighting filters and use the hashtag #teamlightskin; which to me seems very comical. When analyzing this behavior, we can definitely see that this is an example on how certain ethnicities are challenged which you have filters with such ability.

    For your third question,

    I feel that the message that these two hashtags portray to the new generations are not as spiteful, and hateful as they would be compared to the previous generations. In previous generations, the debate between skin color was extreme and very prominent. Now, the debate is still there but that’s not the major debate of worry because there are other things that newer generations are worrying about such as immigration and the trump administration.

    For your fourth question,

    I don’t feel that Black Twitter is part of Black Culture because when I think of the word Culture, I think of it being synonymous with the word definition. Black Twitter does not define Black Culture and same goes the other way. Why? because when speaking of a network of Black Culture, everyone on Twitter has the ability to respond to tweets posted; anyone with a Twitter account.

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  5. Hi, I believe that negative portrayals of minorities do help bring them together because they have felt the same type of pressure on television. From past readings we know that the media is very white, so we must acknowledge that minorities do feel out of place. America media today is full of the same situations, involving the workplace or a medieval fantasy, which is something I don’t identify with, because my parents have been involving me in more cultural antics, for example my parents watch Korean dramas, which are different than American television by a mile.
    I see colorism in social media because people tweet about themselves. I think that as people try to put out their own thoughts we are able to think about them more in depth if people reply to it, and so forth. I see that Rich Chigga is exploiting colorism by putting out music that he would listen too, even though it contrasts from the American hip-hop culture he consumes.
    I think the debate creates a thought in the younger generation of what team they belong on. Seeing this hashtag allows users to delve into the many unfiltered comments about their own opinion, which is more likely for the worse. The trolls on social media create an unsafe platform which kids are unable to completely understand unless they have been informed otherwise.
    Black Twitter shows Black Culture in a way where they have to say things how they would normally say it. It is an extension, and I think that if they continue to use Social Media, maybe more people will understand their culture. I know that I have related to some of the tweets in Black Twitter, and I have learned the different antics which I know to accept, and not take it too seriously.

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