K. Thompson: There was a specific sector of Black Twitter that was interested in that, but there was a specific sector of Black Twitter that wasn’t. It was important to certain people, and it definitely had its impact.
Reign: In 2016, the one-year anniversary, once again there were no people of color nominated for any of the acting categories. It seemed like the media said, OK, you know, one time was a fluke, two times is a pattern. Maybe this woman actually has something here. #OscarsSoWhite actually took off more the second year.
Cochrane: To see it become a whole industry-acknowledged thing, to see April Reign invited to the Oscars—it’s one of those moments where you are like, wow, look at my people!
Finally, after years of hashtag activism and real-world change, even Twitter HQ began to take notice of what was happening on its platform.
Reign: It’s very, very clear that Twitter—the corporation—knows that it would be nothing without Black Twitter.
Brock: It’s really fascinating to see what we can do with tools that people thought were just throwaways and make them better or make them even more valuable.
Elzie: Jack would say himself, Ferguson taught them at Twitter how to maximize and how to use their platform.
Babumba: I’ve been in a room where Jack Dorsey was like, Twitter exists because of Black Twitter. He said it. He’s saying, we are as big as we are, and we are as relevant as we are, because of Black Twitter.
Rivera: Black culture is the driving force of culture globally. No matter what, pick a date and time, it has always been something that is filled with ingenuity and sets the tone. We don’t always get the credit for it, but naturally that phenomenon has continued in the digital space.
Lowery: But there is a commodification of Blackness. Like all things, once it becomes a commodity, it loses that original-recipe sauce.
That was what Black Twitter would have to figure out as it found its voice on the national stage: How to maintain its identity. How to be private and public at the same time. And how to protect its users from exploitation and abuse.
Read Part III here.
Images: Scott Olson/Getty Images; Bettman/Getty Images, David Madison/Getty Images, Sarah Morris/Getty Images; Heritage Art/Heritage Images/Getty Images; Joshua Lott/Getty Images; Ted Soqui/Corbis/Getty Images
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