Celebrating Black Twitter culture, conversation and comedy as social media companies face uncertainty | Black Voices | Chicago News | Techy Kings


From the moment Elon Musk took the reins of social media platform Twitter, chaos has seemed to envelop the site. But even on Nov. 17, when the farewell tweets were flying and users feared the site would implode, Black Twitter was still Black Twittering.

And that’s exactly what Black Twitter does, says Arionne NesslorLecturer and Director of Audio Journalism Programming at Northwestern University.

“It’s always really scary when something you love is on the verge of ending, but in the Black Twitter way, you can’t get too upset because that just means the jokes are going to be even harder, right? That’s literally what Black Twitter is to,” Nettles said. “There’s no such thing as a tragedy that can’t be turned and turned into comedy and I think that really reflects exactly what we do culturally, is we get through things with the joke — and Thursday night had we many jokes.”

Xavier the Popeattorney, ESPN Las Vegas contributor and host of SuitUP News, echoed Nettles’ assessment.

“I think that’s the nature of Black Twitter, it’s being able to grill, so to speak, out loud — because guess what? We’re on social media, people still can’t get the jokes except us, so it’s been really good to share that with the world and impact the culture with it,” says Pope. “Seeing it go away potentially, but we turn it into something fun, that’s how we do it.”

But Black Twitter isn’t just jokes, says Hosted by CityCast Chicago Jacoby Cochran.

“I’ve been looking at Twitter for collective grief, where we’ve had to watch our brothers and sisters gunned down in the middle of the street,” Cochran said. “I’ve also seen Twitter, especially Black Twitter, take something like World War III, the potential of nuclear war, and make funny jokes with SpongeBob memes and stuff, that’s the range for me.”

And that’s why, for him, one of the most memorable Black Twitter experiences he’s had was on January 6, 2021.

“While so many people I think were wringing their hands and thinking ‘our country is not like this, this is not us, who are we?’ I felt like I was standing on my front porch with a bunch of my friends, my family members , my cousins, just pointed across the street like, ‘Oh my God, do you see these people?'” Cochran said. “It was this moment where it was like, look how much time you’ve invested in degrading, oppressing us and looking on this power that you have created during all this. I just felt like we had a good time laughing about it because so many people were losing their minds in one of two directions, complete ignorance or naivety.”

Nettles says it’s also a cultural touchstone she turns to often in her work.

“There are literally times when I’m doing research and I can’t remember the article that I’m talking about but I remember the Twitter discussion around it,” Nettles said. “So I go back to Twitter and look it up … and it’s just such a unique thing because we just have these conversations here and it’s really an archive, history, a library of all this information.”

Pope streams his show “SuitUP” on Twitter, a place he says helped launch his content and has served him well ever since.

“It’s a place where I’ve been able to say things and that go viral quite often, and [have] articles written about things I’ve tweeted about and so I worked to turn that into SuitUP News,” Pope said. “And so that’s how I’ve used this platform and been able to touch, and inform, and inspire and also entertain people, especially talking about carrot cake. It’s become a thing in the last two and a half years. I hate it. It’s disgusting. It should be objective in society but people seem to get into it and we keep talking about it every day.”

So if Twitter goes away – where do former Black Twitter users go?

“So many other social media platforms have tried to replicate Twitter’s virality… but none of them quite captured this feeling of being in the public square talking to Cicero at any moment. I’m not sure if anyone will be able to dominate this particular space in the same way,” Cochran says. “We’re going to find each other, we always have … we’ve evolved and we’ve figured it out.”


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