Tag Archives Ferguson

Why “Black Twitter” is Important

The benefits of social media, particularly Black Twitter | Read more from "Why I Am Grateful for Black Twitter" on The Girl Next Door is Black
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I’ve been in San Francisco for two and a half years and I feel I am withdrawing. I don’t think I fit in here. I spend a lot more time alone than I did in my former life in Los Angeles.

This past year has been particularly isolating as America’s longstanding simmering racial tensions bubbled up to the surface with a vengeance, ignited by Michael Brown’s murder last summer. After which, conflicting emotions of hopeless grief and building fury alternately gnawed at me.

Facebook, on which I was still somewhat active at the time, was a sickening cesspool of cruel, ignorant and outright racist commentary. Or silence. It incensed me how mute some people I followed appeared to be on the subject of police brutality and racism. And if I had to read one more disingenuous, noncommittal: “We don’t have all the evidence yet,” I was going to go mad. Y’all wait around for the evidence, others of us are already awake to what is going on and demand justice.

My isolation threatened to crush me. I didn’t know what to do, but I had to do something. Unfortunately, no one in my small San Francisco network seemed as activated as I was.

I found solace in “black Twitter.” That population of other tweeters united by shared cultural influences, social experiences and united by inclusion in the most disparaged racial group. People from all over the world, not just blacks in the US, with whom I could commiserate; microbloggers who so eloquently voiced the emotions many of us struggled to express; a group of people who wouldn’t try to convince each other that racism is just in our heads. I found comfort in those whose views align with my own, including my belief in the importance of standing up for what’s right.

The benefits of social media, particularly Black Twitter | Read more from "Why I Am Grateful for Black Twitter" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Illustration by John Ira Jennings (@JIJennings)

With each tragedy black Americans suffer, the number turning to the internet for support grows larger. After the recent terrorist attack on the 9 churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, black Twitter was a virtual community in mourning. For some, it is the only space they have to somewhat safely* discuss topics which too many in the offline world try to avoid.

My youngest sister sent me a beautiful post written by a friend of hers which he’d shared on Facebook. It encapsulated the words that I, the “writer”, couldn’t find. I asked her to get his permission to tweet it. As much as his language resonated with me, I knew others would find comfort in it too.

I didn’t anticipate just how much.

That is my most retweeted post in my almost seven years on Twitter. Clearly it struck a chord with many. The replies touched me. To think that so many of us live significant portions of our lives in spaces where we feel isolated and misunderstood is quite distressing.

A few weeks ago, when Rachel “black by spray tan” Dolezal’s “Soul Woman” offense came to light, some of her defenders were quick to lecture remind us all that race is a “social construct.”

Yes, it is a “social construct” and that social construct makes real life more difficult than it should be for some of us. So much so that it sometimes threatens our mental and physical health, even just as observers.

Without Black Twitter, I shudder to think how far off-center I might be today. I’m grateful for the activists  – accidental and otherwise, the educators, podcasters, YouTubers, influencers and entertainers, the natural comedians, writers and bloggers, and the other everyday people across the type of economic, gender, age and educational lines which might otherwise divide us, who inspire and encourage me to keep my head up even when the world seems to have sunk to it’s depths.

The benefits of social media, particularly Black Twitter | Read more from "Why I Am Grateful for Black Twitter" on The Girl Next Door is Black

 

*Trolls who actively seek out and target black people on Twitter are a serious problem. I will cover this topic in a future post.

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Another Black Life As a Hashtag

Police Brutality from "Another Black Life As a Hashtag" on The Girl Next Door is Black
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I felt the sting of threatening tears as I read tweet after tweet, largely authored by black faces. Individual, collective, virtual protests over the acquittal of the police officer who killed Rekia Boyd. Rekia, a 22-year old, black Chicago resident was unarmed when off-duty officer, Dante Servin, shot her in the back of the head, killing her. Rekia joins a growing list of unarmed black Americans who’ve died as a result of encounters with law enforcement. Rekia Boyd also became another hashtag: #RekiaBoyd.

As the burning tears pooled, I noticed another name repeating in my feed, another black death turned symbol of America’s continued refusal to acknowledge it’s institutional racism problem. This time it was 25-year old Freddie Gray of Baltimore, who suffered a SEVERED SPINAL CORD after an arrest, the cause of his eventual death on April 19, 2015.

Last week it was #EricHarris.

The week before that, it was #WalterScott

Unfortunately many other names accompany theirs on the registry of lives ended by those hired to “protect and serve,” including those whose stories for whatever reason don’t get socially amplified.

All around me life goes on. The media makes a fuss over the usual news of unimportance like fashion at Coachella, Kylie Jenner “lip challenges” or which fast food establishment a Presidential candidate visits. Meanwhile, more Americans get shot by law enforcement and in some cases even pay-for-play officers, and life goes on for every else.

Why does this keep happening? And why do so few people seem to care?

I’m sick and tired of seeing black lives as hashtags.

Every hashtag inflicts another cut on my soul and dampens my faith in America’s ability to overcome it’s oppressive roots.

I’m tired of seeing people erase #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter nonsense when we routinely see examples in this county of just how much black lives DON’T SEEM TO MATTER.

It’s evident in the amount of energy some people waste in forming intellectually dishonest comments like:

“Well, why was he running from the cops?”

“If you just obey the law, you have nothing to worry about.”

“What about black on black crime?”

“Not all cops are bad.”

We all know not all cops are bad. Right now this isn’t about cops. This is about a flawed system of government-sanctioned murder. This is about people routinely abusing their power and getting away with it while dead bodies pile up.

I think we’re in the middle of a national crisis and not enough people are talking.

I’m laying low this week, turning away from media, social and otherwise. I can’t handle another hashtag.

Rest in peace to all the black lives lost in this crisis. May their families also find some relief from their suffering.

May more Americans wake up to the reality of what’s going on in our “justice” system.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote  from "Another Black Life As a Hashtag' on The Girl Next Door is Black
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Friday Five: Weekly Twitter Roundup 11/28/14

Here are five things you may have missed on Twitter this week.

Friday Five Weekly Twitter Roundup | The Girl Next Door is Black

 

1. Some of today’s hottest music artists performed at Sunday’s American Music Awards. Hosted by rapper Pitbull, the AMAs provided plenty of tweet fodder. #AMAs

 

2. On Monday, November 24, after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri elected not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the mood on Twitter was tense and reactions mixed. #FergusonDecision

 

3. In response to the Ferguson Decision, many took the protest to their wallets and participated in the anti-Black Friday, national day of activism. #BlackoutBlackFriday calls for those who support the fight against racial injustice to boycott shopping on Black Friday.

 

4. Rarely is there a dull moment when families gather together for Thanksgiving each year. #Thanksgiving 

 

5. The day after Thanksgiving in the US marks Black Friday – a day when people go Hunger Games on their fellow citizen in the name of shopping. This year, it’s not just Americans going bananas for electronics at reduced prices. #BlackFriday

 

What the Hell is Going On in Ferguson, MO?

I’ve been glued to Twitter the past few days.

Twitter is how I first heard of the shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black, 18-year old, Ferguson, Missouri resident, shot multiple times and killed by a police officer. Yet another “shoot first, ask questions and apologize later” incident. Yet another unarmed black American killed. Another life taken too soon, a child snatched from his devastated parents who surely didn’t expect to have to bury their own son, the people whom are supposed to protect and serve their fellow citizens seeming more and more like the aggressor, the opposition. And still no answers. We still don’t know who shot and killed him as the police department won’t release the name of the shooter. Anonymous has other ideas though.

After days of escalating anger, violence, rumors and unrest, traditional mainstream media appeared largely to ignore it (MSNBC and The Washington Post, notable exceptions). This morning I awoke to hear my local San Francisco news station covering the eruption last night, followed by “Breaking News” from “The Today Show” about last night’s events, photos and videos resembling what Americans are accustomed to seeing in “those other countries” where war seem constant. “Breaking News?” This shit started going down days ago!

The milita---er, the police in Ferguson, MO Photo cr:
The milita—er…the police in Ferguson, MO
Photo cr: @theroot, Twitter

I know, I know…many stories are vying for our collective attention: the Ebola outbreak, the violence in Iraq, IS(IS), the Ukraine, the deaths of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, Syria, Gaza and the everyday ills of the world. But what happened and is happening in Ferguson and elsewhere in the US is important too. I’ve written about how I sometimes feel black Americans are still treated as second class citizens, the scourge of the US; how our voices too often go unheard, cries of racism dismissed with cavalier statements, “Stop playing the race card,” “Don’t be such a victim,” “You’re being racist [by recognizing racism exists],” or “Blacks needs to stop blaming whites for their problems! Take responsibility!”  I’m so tired of having to explain to people that racism is still very much embedded in the soil of this country when evidence is right in our faces daily.

Yet, America largely still turns a blind eye when black people are suspiciously killed. Are our lives less valuable than those of other Americans, those with paler skin hues? Why is it that when a black American is killed, people want to play respectability politics? “Well, he was wearing a hoodie.” “He dressed like a thug!” “He threw up peace gang signs!” “She had alcohol in her system.” “He was carrying Skittles!” As if any of this justifies ending someone’s life. Discrediting the statements of eyewitnesses because they don’t speak perfect Standard American English.

I am angry. I am sad. I am tired. I am extremely bothered, but unsurprised that it seems it wasn’t until white people started getting hurt that the mainstream media woke up and decided to do their jobs.

I have so much more to say, but many others have already said so much, so eloquently.

If you want to stay up to date on the events as they unfold, or catch up on what you may have missed, here are a few of the articles I’ve found informative:
Momentum builds against police presence in Ferguson – 8/11/14, (updated 8/14), Vox
* Anonymous’ “Op Ferguson” Says It Will ID the Officer Who Killed Michael Brown – 8/12/14 (updated 8/14), MotherJones
* Two Journalists Reportedly Arrested Without Cause, Assaulted in Ferguson – 8/13/14, Gawker
* The Death of Michael Brown Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests – 8/12/14, The New York Times
* This is Why We’re Mad About the Shooting of Mike Brown – 8/11/14, Jezebel

Some folks on Twitter who’ve been doing some real work raising awareness and reporting on the story:

* Elon James White – On the ground in Ferguson; CEO & Writer, This Week in Blackness
* Feminista Jones – Instrumental in organizing tonight’s National Moment of Silence in honor of those victimized by police brutality; Writer, Contributor to Salon, HuffPost

National Moment of Silence, 2014 Photo cr: @thetrudz, Twitter
National Moment of Silence, 2014
Photo cr: @thetrudz, Twitter

* Jonathan Capeheart – Opinion writer for The Washington Post
Jamelle Bouie – Writer for Slate

Howard University students show their support for the citizens of Ferguson, MO. Photo cr: HowardU, Twitter
Howard University students show their support for the citizens of Ferguson, MO.
Photo cr: HowardU, Twitter