BLACK TWITTER OR BLACK MULES?
I tend to take short breaks from social media, usually, the reason varies from either being too busy or just flat-out needing a mental cleanse. After my most recent social media break, I took my phone and logged into my Twitter account, and didn't know if I had logged into Grubhub or what? All I could see was chicken sandwiches up and down the entire timeline. There are restaurant chains both large and small trying to convince the world of who has the best chicken sandwich? I continued scrolling up and down the feed thinking: "This is random as hell!" And then after some quick investigation, I came to find that African American Twitter users affectionately known as "Black Twitter" have sparked a debate about Popeyes chicken sandwiches being better than the Chick-fil-A sandwiches?
Now I wasn't surprised. After all, this wasn't the first time Black Twitter had gotten the Twitter timeline jumpin'. However, after reading a report of all the all free publicity that earned $23 millions of dollars for Popeyes to sell out of chicken sandwiches, I couldn't help asking myself: "If black people can turn these debates and jokes into profit for others then why can't we do that for ourselves?"
Here's the part where a lot of Black readers will roll their eyes and say to themselves: "It ain't even that deep!" but considering the average black family has a net worth of zero or less it is absolutely that deep! Black Americans are responsible for spending over a trillion dollars as consumers. Furthermore, our influence as consumers has arguably contributed to multi-billions, if not trillions more in sales and profits for other companies. Yet, we fall at the bottom of overall wealth in the United States. So, while we offer undeserved loyalty to fast food chains; we need to first ask ourselves where is that loyalty in return? Where is the reciprocity?
I'll go a step further than Dr. Wilson. I'll argue many of us don't understand the root of the problem, or aren't even aware there is even a problem in the first place? If we are aware then many of us don't care? We're living in a society of multi-million-dollar corporations that pay microscopic attention to the trends made popular by us and are completely silent on issues that impact us in this country and abroad. This isn't a new phenomenon. This has been going on since forever.
These are real concerns that need to be addressed. We seem to largely be satisfied with any form of "representation." Even though we don't reap anything tangible, we're pleased that we're at least influential. For many, that perceived warped-notion of inclusion is good enough. We get our hands dirty and bloody in the streets with protests. We make things popular or go viral with little effort from our genius, elegance, and creativity. We share these gifts with the world (much to our detriment) and are given nothing in return – no reciprocity except crumbs given mainly to token Blacks, while their masters reap the awards.
This is deeper than chicken sandwiches, friends. Let me remind you: the whole world mimics Black American culture, our music, our creativity; our style. Hell, even our Twitter debates create revenue for these major companies. Doubt what I'm saying? Look at the Twitter pages of fast-food chains such as Wendy's who tweet photos of their products with captions using lingo made popular by Black social media users. Even the current chicken sandwich favorite by Popeyes recently stated in a response to another restaurant: "Sounds like someone just ate one of our biscuits. Cause y'all looking thirsty."
We as black people love to joke and there's nothing wrong with that. I believe humor is necessary for us to endure the things we have to face, but there's a time to acknowledge when things are no longer a laughing matter. Our people continue to struggle while we give away free press. We'll go broke, act like buffoons all in the name of white validation. I'm not trying to paint a broad stroke. I know many Blacks are intelligent. I know many of us stay away from the bullshit. We're hard workers just getting by – raising our families, working our jobs, and doing what we have to do to survive. I also know many of us aren't going to make it but I'm still speaking to you, beloveds, as a collective because as a Black man who loves his people, I simply must.
This love I feel has led me to believe that it's time to start creating our own systems. I'm not talking about a seat at the table – fuck that table! I'm talking about creating our own table! As it stands Black people are the mules; we're creating buzz for someone else's products, instead of creating positive buzz for ourselves. Let's take that same energy and brilliance, and create our own enterprises.
Recently, a Twitter user said: "Black Twitter is Twitter!" And I, like so many of us, agree with that statement. Without our influence what would Twitter be? Probably just cat-memes and lame hashtags? If we can sell out restaurants with Tweets alone, then imagine what we could accomplish if we started monetizing our own ideas and our own culture?
Think about that statement for a moment because that's what we used to do. That's where we come from. We have a long history of moving and creating and making for ourselves. Remember: Tulsa, Oklahoma (Black Wall Street), Seneca Village, New York, the prosperous Black town destroyed to make way for Central Park, Boley, Oklahoma known as “The Crown Jewel”— the list goes on. We had our own institutions. Our own law firms, bus companies, banks, airstrips; leagues. We come from a long line of hustle, grit, innovation, creativity, and brilliance. We're the kings and queens of out-of-of the-box thinking. Nobody, and I mean – nobody – is built like us!
I close with this. If you've been following me for some time, take these words and let's start putting stuff to action. Revolutions aren't won overnight. They're long, arduous, tough, and downright bloody. But we can still band together, even though, we're outnumbered and outgunned – we can still come together and just start making shit. We don't even have to get along to make this happen but we can still collaborate. We can form partnerships -- ventures – with each other. Let's use this app to our advantage and tag fellow black designers, writers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and start building our own systems. These are heavy words but then again, we live in dark times and the fun and games are over.
There's a conversation going on. More and more these days Black people are getting on code and speaking to the issues of tangibles – land, resources, etc. I believe the wave has already happened. There's blood in the water and now a new generation of Blacks are attracted to ideas and concepts of ownership. We're more invested in becoming business owners instead of employees. We're demanding more for our votes and while everyone may not agree with the tactics of Black groups such as A.D.O.S. (American Descendants of Slavery), I think we can all agree they've stirred the pot with getting the conversations going about reparations. But it still doesn't end there because whether reparations come in our lifetime or not until we get serious about our future as a collective – nothing will change. Our ancestors built this country for free. I'm sure they would be disappointed to know we're still working for free to this day. Let us stop being mules for other people. It's time to leave these systems.
DROP ME A LINE!
I Don’t Bite?
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