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…Or is this just a stupid question?

Let me rewind and provide some context. Yesterday afternoon, I was casually scrolling through Twitter, checking out people’s tweets and what not, and I came across the Twitter trending topics. It’s a wonderful little nugget nestled on the right rail of the site – a place where you can get a quick glance at what the hottest topics  in the twitter-verse are.

And you know what the NUMBER ONE trending topic was? Guess.. *cue Jeopardy music*

Give up? It was “things darkies say.” Not a joke. People became so inflamed that by the time I refreshed my page to get all the newest tweets in this thread, the topic had been taken off the list. Power of the internet, people.

The thing that’s interesting about this is the vocabulary. Many of the people responding to this meme (which, by the way, you can still search for on twitter) were of 2 types: they were either outraged & offended by the word “darkie” or you were immune to its otherwise vitriolic implications because in South Africa, apparently, “darkie is the same thing as the n-word.” Faulty logic, I know.

But after seeing how much of a hot topic this became on a site accessible to people from around the world, how swiftly the topic was removed after hearing outraged members, and how the “thingsdarkiessay” meme bore an illegitimate child, “SouthAfricansarePissed,” it begs the question: how important are the words that we use to describe each other & others? Is it ok to re appropriate formerly oppressive language for our own benefit, or is that argument a bit passe?

And, perhaps more interestingly, all communities of color have internal vocabulary, things they only say to each other and never around white people: Should we just learn to keep that shit to ourselves?

Remember this, for example?:

Are you any of you on Twitter? Did you witness the #thingsdarkiessay meme? What are your thoughts?