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Anonymous account @emoblackthot had become a staple of the Black Twitter community. Many believed the account was being run by a Black woman, some even thinking it was secretly being run by Rihanna. But the person behind the account has come forward with an even more shocking revelation than having a celebrity identity: The account is being run by a man.
In a lengthy Paper profile, 23-year-old Isaiah Hickland came forward to reveal that he was the person behind emoblackthot.
“Hickland’s also had to deal with his fair share of negativity,” Paper writes. “From all the stories and anecdotes he tells, it’s evident that things haven’t been easy for him, especially as someone seemingly so sensitive, so emotional, so self-aware. Because while he may be Twitter’s go-to for everything from hydration reminders to the newest in rising creative talent, the one thing he’s never been able to feel internally reconciled with is the feeling that his brand of ‘authenticity’ is consistently undermined by the secrets he has.”
The profile was published with a link to a YouTube video, titled “The Reveal / My Story,” which was posted by Hickland himself. In the 20-minute long video, Hickland explains how emoblackthot materialized and admitted that he was “the face behind this entity.”
“It was kinda time to be honest, take off the mask,” he says. “Take account for hiding behind an anonymous facade and move forward with my life.”
People, especially among Black Twitter, are now speaking out against Paper and Hickland. “I don’t understand how someone creates an entire online persona, lies about it, says they lied, then gets a glowing profile story. We are in the end of times,” activist DeRay Mckesson tweeted.
I don’t understand how someone creates an entire online persona, lies about it, says they lied, then gets a glowing profile story. We are in the end of times.— deray (@deray) October 11, 2019
So this person emoblackthot was pretending go be a black woman online for years. Now he’s apologizing like it's all good from here. No it's not all good. 🧐 The internet is a wild ass place.— Natelegé Whaley (@natelege_) October 11, 2019
@/emoblackthot revealing himself to be a man after gaining most of his following from being a wise, relatable black woman is honestly so shitty. being a black woman is not a costume you put on to gain a following who trust you or to make your jokes seem funnier🙃🙂🙃— ashley🧚🏾♀️ (@asheichou) October 11, 2019
the emoblackthot account being run by a man pretending to be a black woman doesn’t sit right with me. while i get that you’d want to hide behind a screen, it could have easily been done without assimilating our struggles and gaining our trust under the guise of black sisterhood.— e! (@emiliabadilia) October 11, 2019
In the video, Hickland says he hopes the fans he garnered from the account would continue to support him, but if they didn’t, he would “get why.”
He says that he created the account four years ago when he was a student at Texas State University, where the environment was “political, racially charged division at the school,” riddled with white supremacist fliers and speakers.
He says he was involved with student organizations and unable to share political opinions as he “was representing the school.” So he made the account to do just that, as well as “boost artists [he] believed it.”
“Didn’t want to bring attention to myself … so I made up a fake name,” he says, referring to Nicole, the name of the Black woman many believed was running emoblackthot. “Nicole” would remind followers to stay hydrated and complain about menstrual cramps.
And therein lies the problem. People in the Black community, especially women, are perturbed that Hickland posed as a Black woman for attention, while many Black women organizers and activists remain neglected. Hickman hasn’t endured the same challenges Black women constantly face but has co-opted their identity.
“You used a Black woman caricature to rise up and now are disposing of it. You didn’t have to do all of this…would people really have guessed it was you if you just said you were a man. I’m so tired of everyone BUT Black women getting praise for our image. It’s disgusting,” one YouTube commenter wrote.
I’m also thinking about how people donated money to emoblackthot thinking they were helping a young black woman 🥴— 🗣 (@vrsuss) October 11, 2019
you came for madlatinathot and waterdrinkingbot saying that they were biting off a BLACK WOMAN, knowing we would cap for you. How come youre the only one who can profit off being a BW?— MADEABLACKTHOT (@CumAuntie) October 11, 2019
social media isn’t just a passive forum here and i can see that being the default thinking. but both social media & tech more broadly are (re)shaping race and so they need to be addressed as active facilitators re; misogynoir & its dehumanization, at the very least.— vanessa taylor (@BaconTribe) October 11, 2019
can we talk about how emoblackthot had people gang up against those copycat accounts, on the idea that they were stealing from black WOMEN?! really had large, verified accounts calling out emoblackthot’s enemies over the belief that they were defending a black woman... pic.twitter.com/aAr3dw6Htx— yeehaw oracle (@dianelyssa) October 11, 2019
So you telling me that people who aren't black women get to have a successful platform by pretending to be black women????— §p☻☻kÿ - ⓢⓗⓞⓞⓚⓨ (@aura_webb) October 11, 2019
But black women don't get shit besides of being taken advantage of???
another layer. people thinking emoblackthot was a woman (and he KNEW that people did, which is why he repeatedly asked that we still support him when he came out) and adding him to spaces for women. whole time, he was LYING to gain their trust. sick. https://t.co/XSymmYoAf4— yeehaw oracle (@dianelyssa) October 11, 2019
Many feel betrayed by emoblackthot for sharing their vulnerabilities with who they thought was a Black woman, contradicting Hickman’s comments.
“People would DM me and try to get to know me and I wouldn’t respond, I wouldn’t feed into it at all,” Hickman says.
EMOBLACKTHOT / ISAIAH HICKLAND EXPOSED pic.twitter.com/M10A6chCoP— x. (@Slaybunnyy) October 11, 2019
I have to say. I loved the emoblackthot account so much. So this feels like a huge slap in the face. You solicited money under the guise of a Black woman in need of help, you pretended to confide in Black womens’ issues, when all along you were an attractive, able bodied cis man?— Mikey Thee Procrastinator (@Mikey_Talks) October 11, 2019
emoblackthot revealed that he was a cis male this entire after gaining the trust of mostly black women— lasanya (@xivsan) October 11, 2019
Still kinda disturbed by the fact that emoblackthot acted as a BW all this time making so many people trust him and open up to him like i see so many people that he was close to hurt and its just.... disgusting i just dont get why he lied all this time. Thats SO fucked up— ᴀ (@bIessikon) October 11, 2019
Many asked Hickman what he did with all the money he raised under the guise of Nicole.
“This is why you didn’t want to be interviewed on the phone because you didn’t want me to know that you are a man. I cannot. People, including myself, sent you money, thinking you were a Black woman…trying to support you and lift you up and it’s all bullshit,” writer @kelleent tweeted.
This is why you didn’t want to be interviewed on the phone because you didn’t want me to know that you are a man. I cannot. People, including myself, sent you money, thinking you were a Black woman...trying to support you and lift you up and it’s all bullshit.— Jharrel Jerome's Emmy-Winning Shimmy (@kelleent) October 11, 2019
Whether you think emoblackthot is right or wrong, he is making a significant amount of money from every click on that Paper article and view on the YouTube video. If he was really sorry he wouldn’t be monetizing his apology and I could’ve sworn yall drag YouTubers for doing this pic.twitter.com/oomqwGSNbw— ️dez. (@dangerousinIove) October 11, 2019
Do you know how many black women have sent emoblackthot money under the guise of helping a fellow black woman? Do you know how many used their tweets as a form of reassurance or guidance? The GASLIGHTING & MANIPULATION the nigga committed just to pretend to be US is unforgivable.— 🕸 🦇 Sadie Gibbs Alliance 🦇🕸 (@uikqe) October 11, 2019
emoblackthot walkin away with money after pretending to have periods pic.twitter.com/EOnXx0MFdD— damyen (@fugazzi3000) October 11, 2019
Some suggested Hickland only revealed his true identity to gain the clout from the account, not because he felt bad.
“The worst part is that after emoblackthot pretended to be a black woman and gained fame off being relatable [to other black women], he revealed himself only because he wants that fame to his name and face. This reveal wasn’t genuine or out of a guilty conscience,” Twitter user @cIearitout wrote.
The worst part is that after emoblackthot pretended to be a black woman and gained fame off being relatable [to other black women], he revealed himself only because he wants that fame to his name and face. This reveal wasn’t genuine or out of a guilty conscience.— ann (@cIearitout) October 11, 2019
In the video, Hickman says he is taking a social media break until Sunday.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque