• December 4, 2021

A People’s History of Black Twitter, Part II

Reign: There were over a thousand tweets about Mike Brown and his murder before any national news outlet picked it up.

Cochrane: As much as three days before national news outlets were in Ferguson, people from Black Twitter were in Ferguson.

Jackson: We knew Michael Brown was a teenager, and we knew that he wasn’t armed. We knew all these things that we felt with our intuition. But they were validated by the fact that members of our community were there with firsthand accounts giving us that information.

Sean: We didn’t have to rely on major news outlets like CNN or MSNBC. We could hear live from people who were there. We could see it. We could feel it.

Rembert Browne, writer: A lot of publications just sent photographers down, and the reports that were coming back felt very ruin-porny, very look at how bad things are. It felt like it wasn’t telling the full story.

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Clayton: I knew that I couldn’t trust white media for shit. The importance of people at the protests being able to capture footage and document what was actually going on—it’s priceless. Priceless because the media has such influence over how people think and how people feel and how people see Black people.

Brandon Jenkins, TV and podcast host: It became inarguable, like, whoa, there are people on the ground that maybe aren’t trained as journalists, but they have truth and emotion behind them.

Meredith Clark, author of a forthcoming book on Black Twitter: There were people that the news media ignored for years, for decades, who were saying these things are problems—the oversurveillance of our communities is a problem, the brutality of the police is a problem.

Lemieux: I started my writing career as a blogger. I went to school for theater. I was not trained as a reporter. My first real reporting assignment, I find myself in a fucking war zone where the state of Missouri and the city of Ferguson have declared war on their Black citizens.

Reign: I remember sharing information about if you get tear-gassed or pepper-sprayed, don’t use water, use milk; or this is where people are going to be meeting and protesting today. Everybody who was on the ground could look to Black Twitter to get the most up-to-date information.

Compounded by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner that same year, a national movement for racial justice, fueled by hashtags, caught fire.

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