Watching black folks on Twitter tells no more about African American culture than watching the forums at Salon or Gawker reveals about white culture. Sure, among certain Twitter groups, black folks relax and use vernacular and call on experiences that are unique to us. But attempting to assign deep cultural meaning to trending topics like #hoodhoe is a reflection of racial bias. We do ourselves no favor by buying into the thinking that topics like this and #itaintrape reveal something particularly significant about black people. Don’t get me wrong, these memes are misogynist. But anyone who has spent more than two seconds online knows that misogyny and sexism are everywhere–a reflection of American…no…world culture, not that of any particular race. Consider the deeply sexist conversation surrounding the Julian Assange sexual assault accusations and the trolling on the #mooreandme hashtag. These were hardly driven by black Twitterati.
If some white people are amazed at what black folks do on Twitter, it is a sign of their own ignorance and prejudice. Williams laments that on the anniversary of the disaster in Haiti, the #haiti hashtag peaked at number 76 on the Twitter trend list, far below a slew of vulgar and sexist tags. But are black people solely to blame for that? Were all the white people on Twitter discussing Haitian relief efforts? Why should black people be more or less ashamed of the idiots among us than people of the majority culture? Why should silly and profane Tweets written by black folks hold more weight than the equally silly and profane Tweets written by everybody else?
I, for one, refuse to be burdened with the actions of @lilduval, some dude I’ve never heard of who created the #itaintrape meme, nor those of @slimthugga, who waxed yesterday about sleeping with white women in honor of MLK Day.
~~Tami Winfrey Harris, “Rejecting the Notion of “Black People Twitter“
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