We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to report that black people use twitter.
Yes, chile. And their use of twitter is so fascinating that some white folks even stay up late at night to peer into the heart of darkness and chuckle at the witticisms of these little nigs Negroes blacks and enjoy their “hilarious, bizarre or profane” midnight dances conversations into the wee hours of the morning.
I hope that paragraph above does all the work it needs to. I hope it shows how misguided Farhad Manjoo and the editors at Slate were to even post such an ill-informed and nineteenth-century-esque article. If it doesn’t then find your way over to Because, Really, the Black Snob or Instant Vintage for a much longer, funnier breakdown (@innyvinny even has a gallery of black twitter birds for your cutting, pasting and posting pleasure–see mine?).
If and when you read it, I hope the problems with the Slate article are more obvious to you than to @fmanjoo–problems like monolithic blackness, the rap-circa-2001-generically-brown twitterbird, the preoccupation with stats say nothing but do their best to mystify something very simple: that “black people are online:”
“Yet much like discovering a country where people are already living, anytime the mainstream picks up on something that black people have been doing since forever (wasting time on the internet, shooting the shit like everyone else) it is supposed to be indicative of some larger, big, mysterious thing.”
Turn your clinical digital spotlight upon me! Make me visible and by doing so make me real! Ahh! The power of the mainstream (which you could also read as white or as emanating from a legacy of whiteness and white privilege although Farhad himself is not white) gaze!
But I’m not writing to jump into the internet swarm that is headed straight for Farhad’s twitterfeed and Facebook page. I’m anti-swarming (peace and love, yall, peace and love). And I’m upset not at the piece itself but at the way its existence obscures and butchers a phenomenon that deserves a lot more attention–and a historical eye.