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’


7 thoughts on “BLOG POST(Module 11): EBRU KASIKARALAR, Black Twitter as the village of Black Americans”

  1. 3- Do you think Black Twitter has made the black community more powerful and active in today’s society?

    I think so. Like mentioned in the lecture, by simplifying on social media, they invite others to co-create the experience and share their opinions. This also allows other ethnic groups to be aware of the issue around black community. For instance, I have an African American friend and he sometimes posts about how he was treated badly just because he was black. This made me think how unfair the society is and made me try not to filter people by too much of stereotypes.
    As they raise their voices together more and more, there will be more presence of black community and I think that is helping them to be more active.


  2. Hi, Ebru!
    Thanks for sharing! I really love your post, especially the second video that you shared. To answer your question, I think Black Americans need a social platform because of the racial inequality in America. They need a place to be themselves. The racial inequality causes them to do everything with caution, which limits who they can be. The social platform serves as a way to be part of the black community, where they can communicate with people that share similar backgrounds and to enjoy their cultures.
    As Brock has proposed in his essay, there are so many black users on Twitter because of the rise of mobile phones, where most black people have more access to post something on Twitter (535). And because of the limitation of characters on Twitter, it is easier to post something on Twitter with mobile phones. This phenomenon possibly explains why Black Twitter is more commonly known as the study in Brock shows that black people in America have a higher percentage of people owning mobile phones than other ethnic groups, which results in a high percentage of black Twitter users. For the second part of the second question, I am not sure if the Black Twitter is influential because African Americans are confronted with more injustice in society. I believe every ethnic group probably have their own ways of expressing. African Americans use the Twitter platform whereas Asian Americans only have their social media platforms such as WeChat. I think the major differences here might be the characteristics. The way of African Americans posting disses and memes might be most suitable for the Twitter platform as it limits the characters, which could be easier to post for African Americans. I think this is a very good question to look more into, and I would like to know if there are any studies that would explain this.


  3. Hello Ebru! You did a wonderful job explaining and analyzing Black Twitter and its application to this social media platform. I believe that African-Americans use twitter as a way to socialize, express concerns, bring attention to important events, and find a cultural identity. Because African-Americans struggle to have a voice in the world (i.e. media, socially, politically, etc.), they find solidarity through Twitter and use it as a platform to have a voice in important matters. The things that are not voiced by the media are voiced on Twitter–specifically by the black community. Things that the media tends to skew or not cover like the wrongful deaths of black men & women, and the string of missing black girls in Washington, D.C.. This social media platform gives members of the black community a voice that they spread throughout the world. Since African-Americans make up a large proportion of individuals on Twitter, as mentioned by Sarah Florini , they tend to be the most influential. Additionally, they make a name for themselves and act as 21st century political and social activists–by speaking and bringing up events that should be talked about. I really loved it when you mentioned the amount of diversity represented within the black community, stating that Black Twitter is composed of “a very diverse group of Black people who have different socioeconomic or cultural background,” This is also why I believe Black Twitter has such solidarity. We have individuals from all walks of life come together to socialize and raise awareness to current problems. Once again, great job Ebru! I really enjoyed your blog post!


  4. Hey Ebru, great post! I thought your post on Black twitter was really interesting. In response to your first question, I think that Black Americans need a social platform through which they can find solidarity because it gives them a place to grow together as a community. I think this can also apply to other minority groups. When they have an online community, it’s easier connect with people and stand together against things that may degrade their culture, race, or ethnicity.

    I think that Black Twitter itself is more widely known and more influential in part due to the number of black people on twitter. As you noted in your post when you referenced Florini, black people are much more active on social media than white people, and certainly other minority groups as well. The content that they post may also gain more traction because of the popular use of slang. In fact, the popularity of Black Twitter is so high that there’s a very popular subreddit on Reddit called r/blackpeopletwitter. The popularity of this subreddit, and the number of people upvoting the posts really demonstrates how massively popular Black twitter is.

    I do think that Black twitter has made black people, and the black community, more active and powerful in today’s society. When hashtags like #blacklivesmatter started trending, it made its way into all aspects of our society, like news, television, clothes, and of course social media. I think that having twitter as a platform has made it easier for black people to bring up issues with our society and stand together through the use of hashtags and overcome obstacles.


  5. Thank you for that entertaining and insightful blog post, Ebru!

    With regards to your first question, I believe African Americans face significant oppression through institutionalized forms of racism, especially as it pertains to media presence. Typically, portrayals of African Americans on most media forms are rife with inaccuracies, or just blatantly exclusionist. We see this exemplified with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, where African Americans use wit to critique the lack of African American presence in the award ceremony. African Americans need a social platform to leverage their connections with one another as a community in order to construct a semi-unified resistance front against the hegemonic oppression the demographic faces on a daily basis. By calling these aggressions out on a social media platform, African Americans are able to make their problems known to the whole community and better able to leverage their individual voice within the context of the community’s collective strength. Like what was mentioned in the first video, Black Twitter is a village for all African American social media community members to participate in.

    One could argue that it is a reactive force that has spurred the growth of this community, but I feel that it is more likely due to the alignment of traditional “signifyin” oral traditions and the mechanics of Twitter. The short bursts of witty commentary that Twitter encourages, in addition to the largely social and community-based communication, make for a perfect platform for African Americans to practice their culturally developed oral practices in a manner that serves the dual purpose of illuminating issues and building a larger community. Through this platform, African American users are able to promote social change while developing general connections with African American Twitter users that they would traditionally not come in contact with. In a sense, this creates a more unified African American front regardless of the immense diversity represented under the umbrella of Black Twitter.

    I would argue that Black Twitter has been a powerful formative influence in inspiring activism within the African American community. To say Twitter itself has increased the power of the African American community by the full amount that the African American community has grown in strength over the years would be an overstatement, but it has inspired the mindset that African Americans are warranted in their concerns and supported in their struggles by other community members they may not even know well. This is a powerful conception, for it allows African Americans to move more actively to make their voices heard sooner and with more force than previously seen. Any member of the African American community can inspire a movement, and it is these micro-movements within the African American community that have allowed so many injustices to be brought to light. In this way, I do think that Black Twitter has made the African American community m


  6. Hi Ebru!

    You ask:
    “Do you think Black Twitter has made the black community more powerful and active in today’s society?’

    Yes, yes and YES.
    I think it most definitely has. I think that because people can connect, communicate, and inform each other in an easily accessible and un-intimidating way, they are most definitely more likely to do so.

    Whether people think they do or not, Twitter gives everyone a voice. A voice with many people listening is power.
    And the more Black Twitter uses it, the more support they can get from others and themselves.

    People are reading and talking about thing that, if Twitter didn’t exist, it may not have even been on their radar. This is the first step in being active in your society! Knowledge!
    Whether it’s correct or not is for the person to research but even hearing it could spark a new conversation, which leads to even more, which then leads to change.


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