2011: The Year of Black Digital Domination
1 year ago
Black digital entrepreneurship and black Twitter were the talk of the town
Was 2011 the year of Black digital domination? From "Black Twitter" to black tech entrepreneurship, 2011 was the year that black influence on all things digital blew into the mainstream.
Digital events like the fight to prevent Troy Davis' execution and CNN's Black in America also confirmed that the black "digital divide" could no longer be ignored. President Barack Obama began the year with a broadband initiative to close the digital divide and the inequality between groups in their access to technology. By the end of the year, however, it was evident that the "digital divide," would be closed quicker through African-Americans themselves rather than through government intervention.
According to digital entrepreneur and social media advocate Wayne Sutton, 2011 was the year that African-American use of social networks went mainstream. Not only did African-Americans use social networks more but their usage seeped into mainstream America. Sutton attributes this to black media outlets' adoption of social media and to the proliferation of social networking on mobile phones by African-Americans.
"By becoming mainstream, African-Americans saw other opportunities to use technology, whether its for entertainment, social good or entrepreneurship," Sutton explained.
The domination of "Black Twitter" in 2011 was also confirmed by a late 2010 Pew Internet study. The study showed that African-American internet users over index on Twitter. Overall, only 8% of all online Americans use Twitter. And of that percentage, only 6% of all white internet users are on twitter versus 13% of blacks. Trending topics like #whatmakesablackgirlmad #blackweblogawards, and #thingsblackpeople only reaffirmed the influence of African-Americans on the social network.
African-American Twitter use was not only limited to interesting hashtags, live tweeting of VH1 reality shows and celebrity debates. According to Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis (aka @drgoddess), 2011 showed that African-Americans are starting to use Twitter for social justice as well.
"Your whole life cannot possibly be just talking about music and shows and when you do find a news story, to not act," Ellis said. "It bothers me that we'll @ people about the most mundane things but these same people when it comes time to be disgusted about a CNN story, they don't @ these people."
She pointed to the Troy Davis hashtag initiated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – #toomuchdoubt – as an example of the new power of Black Twitter through digital activism. The NAACP twitter campaign attempted to reinforce that there was "too much doubt" surrounding the death row conviction of Troy Davis. Despite the significant Twitter campaign, the Georgia African-American male was executed on September 22, 2011.
"I know the power of the digital world," Ellis said. "If you apply your mindset and values and direct action to make change, it will work."