While Black Twitter has long been referred to as a digital space to share cultural critique, break celebrity news, kick it, and engage in “friendly” debate, one CU Boulder researcher claims that the hub serves an even greater purpose, one with historical roots.
Shamika Klassen, a doctoral student at Colorado University Boulder conducted a study between April and May of 2020, analyzing over 75,000 tweets and interviewing 18 Black Twitter users. Klassen compares the findings to serving a similar purpose as the Green Book. Formally published in 1936 as The Negro Motorist Green Book by Black postal worker Victor Green, the book provided a guide for Black travelers to avoid discrimination and physical harm as they journeyed from town to town.
Alongside her CU colleagues, Carnegie Mellon peers and Harvard associates, Klassen discovered that the platform wasn’t being utilized solely to share memes, but also to request safe suggestions for lodging, places to eat without being side eyed, and which professionals to book in which areas.
“What was most interesting to me was the many different ways that Black Twitter was giving life to people,” Klassen said in an interview. “There are benefits, there’s empowerment, there were also people warning about racism, and it was so interesting to see all the different ways people were being fed in their spirit by Black Twitter. It’s more than just funny hot takes or getting entertained by the Verzuz battles happening, but a rich, deep, meaningful community of people.”
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SOURCE: The Root, Alexandra Jane