Black Twitter Activism … Bigger Than Hip Hop?

KSA Social Media Coordinator Emmy Hayes  attended the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas and this is the third of her five highlights for each day she attended the convention. 

I attended the panel, “Black Twitter Activism, Bigger Than Hip Hop” on March 10.  Twitter is a popular social media platform among African Americans because it offers a place to contribute to conversations about cultural issues, societal problems and entertainment. In 2011, 26% of black internet users surveyed said they used Twitter.

Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal, UNC Ph.D. candidate Meredith Clark, and librarian/activist Stacie Williams facilitated discussion in their panel by utilizing an unconventional presentation approach.  Their entire presentation was on Twitter, told through 140 characters or less.  To check out their presentation follow @blktwtr for the entire panel notes.

It was an interesting panel as they discussed the misrepresentation in academic research regarding Twitter from higher education institutions. For example, University of Vermont researchers missed opportunities when they did not take into consideration cultural differences in a Twitter study. They mislabeled the word “boo” as a negative term on Twitter, while in the African American culture “boo” isn’t always associated with a negative meaning.

However, they discussed the important role of a library, where librarians can provide an “activist” role – helping people find information without judgment.  This information can then be used in Twitter conversations around newsworthy topics.

One takeaway that resonated with the audience and started a deeper conversation was that social media gives us the ability to reimagine the world that we live in, because of the potential reach and amplification that one tweet can have.

–   Emmy Hayes

Leave a Reply