This is social media done right.
This year has been a triumphant one for Black Twitter. The black community has always been poppin’ on social media, never missing a chance to drag the most problematic celebrities, combat institutional racism, and demonstrate absolutely no chill about the silliest stuff the Internet has to offer. Black Twitter was also finally recognized this year for its simultaneous humor and gravitas, with national publications like Los Angeles Times even hiring reporters to cover the community.
To honor the funniest space on social media today, we are going to relive some of our favorite Black Twitter hashtags from 2015.
Black Twitter created #CNNBeLike in response to CNN’s reckless coverage of Otis Byrd, a black man found hanged from a tree in Mississippi this March. Byrd was not a criminal, yet CNN insisted on referring to his criminal record. Exposing this habitual racism, Black Twitter went ham:
How this hashtag exactly started is a little unclear. All we can say with certainty is that Common, who became a target for #BlackCelebsBeLike’s funniest jokes, went on The Daily Show to say, “Let’s forget about the past as much as we can and let’s move from where we are now. How can we help each other? Can you try to help us, because we are going to try to help ourselves, too.” Many translated this to “black people showing love to white people is the cure to racism,” which seemed to infuriate Black Twitter into spawning #BlackCelebsBeLike.
4) Don Lemon
Although this does not technically count as a hashtag, we have to mention the moment when Black Twitter eviscerated the always-starved Don Lemon. He has long had a contentious relationship with the black community, with one heckler even going as far to call him “Uncle Tom” on live television. But our favorite beef began when Don Lemon and the producers at CNN thought it’d be a good idea to show DL holding a sign that read “N****r.” Black Twitter swiftly disabused them of this notion.
Following this viral interview where Spokane NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal ran away from a journalist asking about her race, Black Twitter erupted. News broke that Dolezal had been misrepresenting herself as black for years; her parents admitted she was Czech, Swedish, and German. Thus, Black Twitter created a litmus test to verify Rachel and the authenticity of any other potential “posers.”
An essential companion piece to #AskRachel.
The #AllLivesMatter brigade has been trolling Black Twitter ever since the untimely shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri left that community feeling abandoned by the justice system. When Cecil the Lion was gunned down by a Minnesota dentist poaching in western Zimbabwe, the world was outraged. Celebrities like the normally upbeat Jimmy Kimmel cried on TV, mourning the loss of an animal. Black Twitter was amazed and disappointed to see that outpour of love in support for Cecil the Lion far surpassed the nation’s ability to mourn for children gunned down by police in cold blood. This incongruity gave us #AllLionsMatter, which aptly mirrored the dismissive language of #AllLivesMatter.
The greatest aspect of Black Twitter is that it’s a tight-knit social community connected across distance and generations. #GrowingUpBlack is a prime example of how its people come together to bond over shared experiences.
Always self-aware, Black Twitter used #GreatestMomentsInBlackTwitterHistory to memorialize the most epic moments on Twitter over the years. For example:
10) Ann Coulter vs. Raven
Once upon a time, Raven-Symoné was black america’s sweetheart, warming our hearts with her performance as Olivia on The Cosby Show. She continued to be a pillar community with her hit Disney series That’s So Raven. But like The Cosby Show, her important legacy has been sullied. It all began with an Oprah interview in which she explained not wanting to be labeled as “African-American.” Then it was new-age “racism doesn’t exist” nonsense in which she justified a reporter comparing Michelle Obama to an ape. Then it was misidentifying Africa as a land full of “continents.” Finally, most recently, she defended racial discrimination based on names. Therefore, when Ann Coulter insulted Raven, Black Twitter had to cheer her on—no matter how strange that felt.
Another instance of Black Twitter’s warm community, the hashtag #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies demonstrated the universal pain that comes with waiting all day to feast.
#ThanksgivingClapbacks was the direct result of the previous hashtag, a reminder of how black families could push every one of us over the edge.
There are two types of black actors. There are the black actors like Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, who are able to cross over into mainstream media—and then there are the nameless actors caught in TV movie purgatory. Black Twitter recognizes them as mothers, father, uncles, and aunts, but they are mostly unknown talent. Or they were until Black Twitter created #CelebritiesOnlyBlackPeopleKnow.
As I mentioned in an earlier piece, Pope Francis disappointed the hip-hop community when he dropped a prog album instead of the rap record he was born to make. Nevertheless, Black Twitter was elated that God had blessed them with the perfect Pope meme, and the community ran with the opportunity to write holy lyrics.
Illustration by Jason Reed