#IfTheyGunnedMeDown: The Necessity of “Black Twitter” and Hashtags in the Age of Ferguson

Jacqueline Schiappa

Abstract


This essay reviews the discourse created by a group of social media users on Twitter, commonly referred to as ‘Black Twitter,’ in response to the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri. A key contribution of the essay is an explication of Black Twitter’s existence, validity, and efficacy as an online community resisting white supremacist culture and news media narratives. The author frames Twitter as a networked public influencing users’ sociopolitical lives and access to news media, examining key hashtags (such as #IfTheyGunnedMeDown and #FergusonSyllabus) utilized by politicized Black Twitter users. The essay demonstrates how such hashtags effectively redress problematic news coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson, sustain the visibility of related protests, facilitate ongoing dialogues, and empower solidarity.

Keywords


#BlackLivesMatter; Black Twitter; Twitter; Discourse; Community; Counterpublic; Ferguson; Networked Public; Social Media; Social Movement

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ProudFlesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics and Consciousness. ISSN: 1543-0855 (online).
Editor: Dr. Sonjah Nadine Stanley-Niaah.

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