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Black Twitter

Posted At: September 11, 2013 2:30 p.m.
by Kyle Borland

How many of you were aware that one of the jurors in the George Zimmerman trial acquired a book deal? I asked a lot of my friends this question (not a very scientific poll but it’ll have to do on my college budget) and many of them had no clue. I couldn’t blame them for not knowing about it. But Black Twitter shot the deal down faster than it took you to get that Frappucino at Starbucks.

Don’t worry; Black Twitter isn’t a new social media app/site that we all have to join. It’s a community within Twitter — a powerful one. Like I said above, it caused a publisher to drop a book deal. It turned a sleeper hit, “Scandal,” into the number one show on television. It caused “#Nerdland” to start trending nationwide for the Melissa Harris-Perry show on a weekly basis.

Here are some statistics from a study done by the Pew Research Center (I don’t like numbers but it helps picture why Black Twitter is so important):

  • 26 percent of African Americans who use the Internet use Twitter vs. 14 percent of white Americans
  • 11 percent of African American Twitter users say they use Twitter at least once a day vs.3 percent of white Americans

One in every four black people on the Internet uses Twitter. In contrast, a little more than one in every 10 white people on the Internet uses Twitter. That’s a big difference.

Even with these statistics, it’s important to note that not everyone in Black Twitter is black and not every black person on Twitter is a part of Black Twitter. Take me, for example. I’m not an active participant in the movement, but I have participated in some of the conversations. What I have found — in addition to some really witty people and some great memes — is an avenue to a community of people. If there is one thing that we’ve all learned as public relations students/professionals, it’s the importance of understanding that publics are made up of communities that are made up of individuals.

That’s a big part of what makes Black Twitter what it is. It’s the active pursuit of breaking generalizations and/or stereotypes of an entire group of people. It’s the showcasing of individuality through unity. It’s that unity that has allowed Black Twitter to take over Twitter and make America take notice.

So, next time a large event is taking place, keep an eye on the trending topics. You might just get some new insights and perspectives. Or in the case of Miley’s VMAs performance — on second thought — I probably shouldn’t go there.


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