Thursday, May 29, 2014

ATA #9: An Ode to Black Twitter: Fried Mentions and Collard Memes


WARNING: Across the Aisle features a generous helping of exploratory writing, gratuitous pop culture abuse, and complimentary Funyons. This is Hive Mind 101. That glorious moment when Wonder Twin powers activate. Jay Connor + Alex Hardy = the triumphant return of Voltron. These ain’t no studio tricks, and such brilliance is solely intended for mature reading audiences.  Enjoy.

Episode 09

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An Ode to Black Twitter: Fried Mentions and Collard Memes

Jay Connor: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This edict, universally recognized as Newton’s Third Law, also serves as the mantra for the definitive equal yet opposite reaction: The illustrious tsunami of slander and snark known as Black Twitter. A glorious habitat where honorifics such as Mister and Mrs. have been supplanted by at signs, where ratchetness and righteousness dine at the same dinner table, and where beef is a dish best served publicly. It’s the jungle outside Grandmaster Flash and his merry band of fashion faux pas warned you about. It’s also the first place you’ll find a hashtag, but the last place you want your name affixed to it. But worry not. Don’t let the onslaught of memes and a sadistic, 140 character restriction on your First Amendment rights scare you away. Much like Usher’s catalog, there’s good to be found as well. You just gotta know where to look. And that’s where your tour guides, Mr. Hardy and myself, come in.

Alex Hardy: Yes, folks, the fruitful Land of Shade and Honey is home to countless Negroidian species. Contrary to popular belief, the Den of Chocolate Treasures known as Black Twitter is not a monolith. We are khaki-toned and Nutella-hued. Some have degrees on degrees on degrees with debt on debt on debt and others blazed through the School of DMX Hard Knocks, Black & Mild behind ear, living that 401K-free life. Some respect the Your/You’re Differential and others play in traffic while high on 4Loko. We is smart. We is important. are diverse as hell, you know, just like any other group. Except with graceful aging and prophetic and lightning-fast GIF deployment. So, when you’re considering exploring and emulating and humping your way through Black Twitter, remember that no singular tragic or beautiful tweet is fully representative of the full splendor of the Digital Negroidan Experience. Come on in. Tread lightly. Ask questions. Observe the many uses of Lawry’s seasoning. Good times and scandals will be had by all.

Jay Connor: Every coin has two sides and the thriving, urban metropolis that is Black Twitter is no different. It’s a thin line between love and hate, so the chasm between the assholes and the activists often mirrors LeBron’s hairline. But in those fleeting moments when your ketchup isn’t overstepping its boundaries by dry humping the peas on your plate, the inherent beauty that is Black Twitter shines quite brightly. Like a diamond. Shine bright like a diamond. Case in point, in his efforts to thwart the ongoing genocide of Black youths that has literally transformed Chicago into a warzone, Pastor Corey Brooks launched the #BrothersOnTheBlock initiative, wherein “hot spots” for crime and violence will be seized by mentorships, workshops, and White saviors the introduction of positive alternatives. Like masturbation.

Alex Hardy: Black Twitterland has affluent zones marked by that coveted blue checkmark of verification and guests spots on Melissa Harris-Perry as well as bullet hole-ridden barrios plucked from The Wire where thot-shaming is the local pastime and Chief Keef reigns supreme. There is a Black gay village, a campus for Tariq Nasheed’s Female Training and Subjugation Academy, and a #NaturalHairTwitter compound where extra-virgin olive oil is currency. Our shit is lush. You can’t see it all in a day.

Meet #MamaSpike - here

Jay Connor: And no, Ramaa Mosley didn’t produce its umbilical cord either. Societal constructs of this magnitude aren’t birthed by a womb, they’re birthed by necessity. “The South got something to say!” exclaimed Three Stacks, and the rest of us hopped on our keyboards and mounted the fuck up as well. It’s important to note that while there isn’t a specified hierarchy, there are a minuscule few who under no certain terms do you ever speak ill of. The Beygency plays no games, The Onion won’t be calling anyone a “cunt” anytime soon, and the clandestine operation known as The Keepers of the Renaissance have quite the body count as well. But outside of its own caste of elite one percenters, the wrath of Black Twitter spares no one. Even celebrities yank out their decorum earrings and leap into the fray. So choose your allies and your hashtags carefully, and remember a retweet isn’t always an act of solidarity. Often times it’s an opening salvo.

Alex Hardy: For every Sean Combs of Social Media who has successfully branded themselves as Black Twitter elite, there are three conspiracy theorist Negroes who deny (a)the existence of this mythical Black Digital Voltron, (b)their understanding of the purpose of this this influential Black body, and, (c)their membership-by-default in this Black body, because Black. Unfortunately for these defectors, Black Twitter possesses very tangible, quantifiable power. We affect change. We get murderers arrested. We get boxing matches featuring murderers canceled. Black Twitter is more than respectability memes and bacon praise. Whether your cousins want to admit it, Black Twitter matters. You’re welcome, Shonda Rhimes.

Jay Connor: And who can forget Black Twitter’s #RacismEndedWith volley when the GOP boldly announced its funeral? But with so many memorable moments, do you have a favorite?

Alex Hardy: The deluge of Black brilliance that happened following Paula Deen being Sterling’d into Public Racisthood was one of my favorite Post-Plantation Twitter moments. What resulted was #PaulaBestDishes, which at once allowed us to poke fun at racism and flex our brilliance. Aside from Genie Lauren lighting Zimmerman juror B37’s book deal on fire and Black Twitter regularly bringing awareness to issues that major outlets overlook, that day, our creativity was inspiring. Plus, it was refreshing to see the absurdity of racism tackled through humor. I laughed hard as fuck that day. And I appreciated the break from the homophobia and debates over $200 dates and ass eating.

Jay Connor: Ah yes. Good times. However, as grandiose as those were, my popcorn and I found much felicity in Black Twitter’s revolt against all things Don Lemon. His blatant hair follicle appropriation served as a DVD bonus feature once Braxton foolishly sought Black Twitter’s validation. As if #DonLemonLooksLike and #DonLemonLogic weren’t enough, Obi-Wan Kenobi assumed his astral form and the Empire Struck Back with #DonLemonShowTitles. Who knew public dismemberment could be so riveting?
Alex Hardy: Don Lemon’s side gig as conservative White America’s Black Friend is the gift that keeps on giving where fresh material for tweets and hashtags is concerned. That mob mentality that creates those rabid frenzies--like when the BeyHive discovers/is alerted of critique of Beyoncé --can be unnerving to encounter when pettiness and maliciousness are frolicking together. That, coupled with our apparent desensitization toward (making and reading) biting, brutal commentary, creates a few glad-that’s-not-me Twitter moments weekly. Black Twitter forgets nothing and, when scandals and tragedies appear, find everything. Can you imagine having your public lashing or catfight or meltdown or Freudian slip become a trending topic? Ever known anyone who became a meme or hashtag for all the wrong (and tragic) reasons?

Jay Connor: Sadly, I can’t say I have. Though I can only imagine what it must be like to wake up one morning feeling like the Cheers theme song, where everyone knows your name. The horror and dread that must scamper through their veins as their privacy becomes community property like a pornstar’s asshole. It’s amazing what a dearth of couth, a dab of boredom, and a white subtitle can do to that finger that tripped and fell in their nose. But what about yourself? Have you ever had to ID any hashtag casualties at the morgue?

Alex Hardy: I have never had people who I loved at the center of a Black Twitter-sponsored witch hunt. I have seen bloggers and subhuman fashion fuckboys that I know get pushed into that hot grease, though. Sure there were laughs, RTs and screen shots, but nothing life-ruining. They live on to Terrible another day. Short attention spans make everything okay.
 
Jay Connor: And with that, our tour of the Dark Ungentrified Side of The Force has reached its conclusion. After checking your Mentions, be a gentleman (or woman) and try not to park your foot in anyone’s ass as you step outside of the trolley. It’s been a pleasure traversing the Kendall Jenner Cornrowed District of Twitter with you today, and we wish you a lifetime of love, peace, and social media anonymity.

Alex Hardy: Provided you are never outed as a Scamron, Post-Plantation Twitter can be a great source of comradery, news, up-to-the-minute gossip, and unsolicited hideous nudes. And though the scope, involvement, hierarchy, purpose, membership, official song, and mascot of this Black digital expanse are all up for debate, it’s not going anywhere any time soon. We have had our posting habits and massive influence studied by sociologists and discussed by panels of “experts” on TV. I’ve been asked by White women in cafes in Panama, “Are you part of Black Twitter??” We’ve had White men dress up in digital blackface to see what our online experience is like. Who is infiltrating and analyzing French-Canadian or Left Handed Vegan Housewife Twitter?


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A million thanks to my partner in crime:













Jay Connor is a prized pupil of the esteemed Professor Xavier and a Los Angeles based freelance writer. When he’s not preoccupied with accruing overdraft fees while chasing the dream, he can be found disseminating terrorist threats on Twitter and Facebook. Direct all business inquiries, sexual innuendo and Nigerian email scams to deathtoadverbs@gmail.com.









Follow me on Twitter: @chrisalexander_
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