Do not let the title fool you, I have always loved being a Black girl, from the time I understood what it meant to be Black. However, the older I get, the more my awareness grows. And the further my awareness grows, the more I come to truly appreciate what it means to be a Black woman living, growing and trying to thrive in this world. I would love to think that I gained awareness of my culture and race and even myself through the American educational system but we all know that would be a damn lie! Of course, I came to appreciate much of who I am through my family, my collegiate experiences, working and living as an adult, etc. But nothing really brought a well-rounded insight to my life the way that Twitter and other social media outlets have over the last few years.
I admit it, I am addicted to social media. I got on Facebook in 2004 when it was only for college students. I found Twitter in 2009 and it is still my favorite site. I can do without social media a lot of the time because with every good, solid, reliable, positive piece of information, comes some straight up negative bs. But, using SM for my professional life, MMR! and to grow my personal network, I have come to a place where I just love social media and accept it for what it is. But, I didn’t come here to talk about how much I tweet or how many times I check Facebook or whatever. I came here to talk about how social media helped to develop the way that I see myself and outside of myself.
I remember first hearing the term #BlackTwitter, back when it was a term for folks on twitter that were deemed popular and had hella followers. This was legit a point in time where #BlackTwitter was like a clique and only a few people were really highlighted. I loved following some of these people because they lived all over the US and were hilarious, insightful and intelligent. They spoke from different backgrounds and experiences but a lot of what they had to say resonated within me. I was in my early 20’s and still forming a lot of who I was, I loved seeing other young people express themselves in a way that I didn’t feel like I could.
Then, I remember when white folks caught on to #BlackTwitter and the hashtag started showing up in the headlines of CNN, Buzzfeed and other publications. And we all know once white folks catch on, that can truly be the beginning of the end. But, what happened was more enlightening for me than anything else. Conversations about appropriation, pride, microaggressions, etc. started to open up on a large scale. Beyond the counseling classrooms that I had spent 3 years in, I was able to have or witness conversations about things that other people like me had experienced, lived and understood. It was like all of a sudden, at the same time, we matured. Our jokes never stopped but our conversations became more mature.
Things that I had not thought about consciously began to crop up in huge bunches: pride in being a melanated queen, the importance of my black life, culture and voice. Hashtags and movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackGirlMagic brought both pride and pain to the forefront. It became apparent to me just how much of my identity centered around being a Black woman. I had asked myself the question before: am I a woman or Black first? Or something else? I have come to realize that I am not one without the other. I am a BLACK WOMAN and that is all that I ever want and need to be.
I have, over the years, begun to truly identify the Blackness within myself. To see myself as a woman that will not ignore or downplay her color. I am not colorblind and never will be. I appreciate everything that comes with being a Black woman because, whether I knew it or not, it was molding me into who I am becoming and have become. Though I had never gone out of my way to avoid my Blackness, I now go out of my way to celebrate it. And that, is the difference. I had always been a Black girl. But now, I am a BLACK WOMAN, does that make sense?
What it means to me is that I am hyper-aware of my blackness at all times. I do not use my blackness as an excuse, hinderance, exception or privilege. I simply am what I am and will be what I be. I am more aware of the effect my blackness has, I am more in tune with what being Black has done to uplift my life. I am more aware of the things that seem small but pose a threat to my people. For instance, hot topic, cultural appropriation seems like something to scoff at until you realize that it is a gradual erasure of our culture.
I do not want to make it seem like I have been lacking this awareness for the last 20-something years of my life. But, what Twitter did, is make me more aware of my awareness. It showed me that I am not alone in the game. Any fight I am in, I do not battle alone. For every person that thinks like me, there are 20 more that think in 20 different ways. And all 21 of our thoughts can interconnect to make things happen. Social media has taken a lamp and made it a fluorescent ceiling light. When awareness jumps from “me” to “we”, that is when things pop off. As you can see, Blackness is popping off all up and through and WE are not about to stop anytime soon.