I’m not sure about you, but when I first jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon, I knew it for its hashtags (which, in the beginning, was very juvenile when you think about it), its trash talk, its challenge to communicate within the 140 character margin, and its ability to let you speak your mind, illustrating whatever you deemed worth broadcasting to your followers. At first, I liked it. I had some fun, made some new friends. There came a time, though, when I got bored. Twitter was like high school, and at that point in time, I was already on my way to becoming a sophomore in college. I thought I left high school behind! The drama, the cattiness, and the immaturity that came along with it.
Then something happened. Right when I was going to leave Twitter, Twitter began to change. It became less social interaction about the Jonas Brothers and more social interaction about politics. About community. About the trials and errors of our celebrities and how it could be changing the way the younger generations view life. I began to see a lot more news outlets creating accounts to tweet links to articles they’ve written, tweets in which other people share by retweeting, therefore engaging others in a large conversation, similar to a chat room that anyone can jump into. And if you hashtagged it? Oh man. The more the merrier! So I stuck around. I began unfollowing people that used Twitter as a tool to trashtalk their ex boyfriend and started following people that used Twitter to generate a conversation, where people who felt they were alone no longer felt that way.
One of those follows that I still hang true to today and will forever is @FeministaJones, the sex-positive feminist blogger/writer who I came across via Twitter. She is not only one hell of a smart woman, actively talking smarts with her followers from log in to log out, but who is also about action where words aren’t enough. Through Twitter, she rounded enough people to stop Nivea, the beauty company, from continuing to run one of their ads, which happened to be racial. She also started up, via Twitter, something called #SexyShred, a 4-week weight loss challenge in which participants eat clean and work out for four weeks, and use the hashtag to inspire each other, keep each other updated, and share recipes and workouts.
One of her biggest accomplishments happens to be her involvement in Black Twitter, a community where mostly (though not limited to) black people come together to be who they are, to spread awareness, to inspire, to stir conversation, and to create and/or assist in activism toward the Black community. It was through Feminista Jones that I learned a lot about Black Twitter, and it was through her and the input, participation and liveliness of other Black Twitter members that helped me to join, as well. A community as big as this, with a tool that keeps us all linked together is a gift, and one Feminista and many others do not take for granted. Just a few days ago, FJ wrote this article for Salon.com that explains what Black Twitter is, and how it helped to bring the Trayvon Case to life, to where it is today. Had Black Twitter not seen the case, evaluate it for its mistakes, and brought awareness to other people to the point where it became a nation wide story that everyone at home heard about, it probably would not have gotten the attention it got today.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR: READ HER ARTICLE, “Is Twitter the Underground Railroad of Activism? How Twitter Fuels Black Activism” (click), FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER (click), AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION (click).
Social media is not just social media. It is a tool that can bring about change the world has never seen before. Black Twitter is a prime example, and leaders like Feminista Jones and the members of Black Twitter can help in bringing change.