So, I’ve been on Twitter for a minute and my impression thus far is: huh.
I thought the problem would be that I’d be constantly chattering away, constantly trying to get both the first and last words, and constantly hung up in this spat or that.
Not what’s happened.
Oh, I’ve jumped in here and there, but, mostly, I’m just listening in. I have almost no followers (which is a) not a surprise, given my relative silence; b) yeah, an ego dent; and c) probably for the best), but am slowly building a roster of people who I want to follow.
And that’s where the “huh” comes in: While most (not all) of the people I follow are on the left, they’re not all left in the same way. In particular, I follow a number of bloggers who are black, which means I’m not only able easily to eavesdrop on conversations of which I otherwise might not even be aware, I’m also able to see how those conversations play out.
That’s key: I’m certainly used to reading and hearing black (and Latino and Asian) voices in the media, but, for the most part, these are media saturated in whiteness. I don’t mean white supremacy—The Atlantic, whatever its faults, is not a vehicle for supremacism—but that the story choices and the readership are largely white.
Black Twitter writes for itself. It’s not that the conversation is confined to black people, but that the microphone is located firmly within black America, and passed around to other black people. I can listen in, but whether or not I do so is rather besides the point.
This is not a surprise. I mean, any white person who’s ever heard a Chris Rock performance knows that how black people talk amongst themselves is not how they talk with white people. But even as someone who is not completely clueless about the existence of black culture, it can still be a smack upside my head to see, in real time, it’s not all about me.
And that’s bracing, in the best possible way.