On Tuesday, writer Farhad Manjoo posted a controversial article titled, “How Black People Use Twitter” on Slate.com. The writer attempted to expose Black people’s behavior on Twitter, describing popular Trending Topics like “Black Ghetto Baby Names” or “If Santa Were Black,” as a game of racial insults and buffoonery which involves a large sector of Black Twitter users.
While Slate is an online magazine which typically takes insightful, yet satirical slants to journalism, the writer has created an extremely distasteful and racially offensive article and illustration about Black people.
In some fashion, the article holds a hint of validity in recognizing the presence of a personal connection between users which extends outside the limits of each user’s friends list. On the other hand, the article offends in it’s inability to recognize Black trends as an extension of Black creativity, rather than attributing these trends as an intellectual flaw and lack of morals.
While this article is packed with research, a majority of the facts are erroneous and assumption based. The motive of this article is to be a voice of reason, but it ends up offending African-Americans, Twitter users or not.
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Manjoo states in the beginning of the article: “Black people—specifically, young black people—do seem to use Twitter differently from everyone else on the service.” But he then points out that Twitter doesn’t collect race, gender, or age demographics.
While claiming to be an analytical and theory based article, Manjoo uses backwards reasoning; beginning with a racist assumption, then finding evidence to support his assumption. He says: “The prevalence of these tags has long puzzled non-black observers and sparked lots of sometimes uncomfortable questions about how black people use Twitter.” He perceives Black people’s Twitter behavior as wrong or deviant, solely because he, nor ‘non-black’ people understand the phenomena.
Manjoo continuously describes people of other races discontent and concern with Black twitter trends; positioning that Black people are utilizing Twitter to insult themselves. He says: “A lot of people of all races insult one another online generally, and on Twitter specifically. We don’t usually see those trends hit the top spot. Why do only black people’s tweets get popular?”
Are my intentions in writing this response, an attempt to defend the old double-standard that black people can’t be racist to their own people?
Not at all.
Regardless of Manjoo’s race, it is an injustice to condemn Black people of this behavior, without understanding the behavior. Comical trending topics are an indication of thousands of Black people’s ability to create witty jokes, not a lack of morality.