Let’s begin with a few clarifications. Kim Kardashian did not create boxer braids, which are in fact called cornrows. Marc Jacobs didn’t start the trend of mini buns; African ancestors have been rocking them for centuries and they’re called Bantu Knots. Furthermore, Katy Perry didn’t originate baby hairs; Black women have been taming their edges long before LL Cool J made reference to it in his 1990 hit Around the Way Girl. Black hair is uniquely cool and versatile, and the admiration is appreciated. As previously stated, the offense occurs when aspects of the culture that are stereotyped become trendy and there is no acknowledgement or representation of the cultural origins. For years, Black people have been dying and straightening their naturally kinky hair in an attempt to assimilate into a society that, in the past, has pressured Black people to conform by enforcing school bans on hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks, and cornrows. Even some corporations have implied that Black hair in its natural state appears unprofessional. Black men rocking cornrows, braids, afros, or certain haircuts at times are profiled as “thugs.” Knowing all of this, one could understand why Black people are sometimes sensitive to popular culture appropriating Black hairstyles, and why there’s a slight cringe when we see a photo of Kylie Jenner sporting cornrows with the caption “I woke up like this.”
Don’t head over to an app store looking for a Black Twitter application, you won’t find anything there (at least nothing official). Nor will the hashtag #blacktwitter explain what and where Black Twitter is. Black Twitter is not simply tweeting while Black or tweeting about all things Black. It’s a network of active Twitter users providing social commentary via tweets and retweets on the same content, trends, events, entertainment and experiences that are pertinent to Black culture at the moment. Black Twitter is where popular memes begin, hashtags become trending topics, and where social justice movements are birthed. This is more than the Black table in a high school lunchroom. Black Twitter is a voice for a once voiceless community, an outlet of expression, and it’s the sharing and exposing of stories in the community that would never otherwise make national news. Black Twitter doesn’t just connect the Black community, it also gives mainstream a glimpse into the intimate conversations, perspectives, and experiences of the Black community, that would otherwise be inaccessible to mainstream. You will know that you’ve moved into the “Black Twitterverse” when several Black users you’re following all are providing commentary on the same trending topic of conversation. You don’t have to be Black to enter the “Black Twitterverse”, you just need a genuine desire to understand the culture, things that are important to the community, and, of course, a great sense of humor.