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Friday, August 13th, 2010

Does it matter how Black people use Twitter?

by Amani Channel
@fmanjoo #blacktag

I started using Twitter on April 20, 2007. At the time, Twitter was hardly mainstream. There were a few media professionals on the site, but its popularity was reserved for mostly techies and early adopters.

When I started using it, I posted infrequently and didn’t give much rhyme or reason to my Tweets. A few months later I found myself freelancing for a network called HDNews. The 2008 Hurricane season proved to be a valuable lesson in the power of Twitter.

As I covered Hurricane Ike, TS Faye, Hurricane Gustav, and TS Hanna, I often tweeted from the field using hashtags. It kind of happened by accident. I noticed that others were using #Ike for example, and followed suit. Honestly, I didn’t even know Twitter would aggregate tweets based on the #sign, but what I did notice was that people by the dozens would follow me when I used a hashtag with my storm tweets. By the end of the storm season, I had amassed an additional 2000 followers or so.

Though I no longer work in news, I’ve continued to tweet, and enjoy being able to share a variety of content including mobile videos, photos, and of course text and links. I try to share content that relates to technology, news, and multimedia. It’s no secret that one of the benefits of Twitter is being able to develop your personal brand, and it holds a strong place in my social media strategy.

Sure, I’m on Twitter regularly, but I’ve also automated some of my tweets through www.twitterfeed.com. Whenever I update this blog, twitterfeed will send out a tweet. The same goes for when I upload a new video to my blip.tv account. I’ve also added a few outside sites like BlackWeb2.0 because I generally like the content, and find that the posts are often re-tweeted.

You may wonder why I’m sharing all of this? Several online discussions have centered on how Black people use Twitter. More specifically, an article on the Slate written by Farhad Manjoo that focuses on the hashtags used by (some) Black Twitter users.

The prevalence of these tags has long puzzled nonblack observers and sparked lots of sometimes uncomfortable questions about “how black people use Twitter.”

Why would anyone be uncomfortable with how someone else uses Twitter, or any other social network for that matter?

People use social media to communicate. Some people use it for general conversation, others use it to market and promote, while others use it to have entertaining conversations around hashtags.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t pay attention to some of the trending topics that center on silly conversations or situations, but I’m not going to hate either.

Perhaps some nonblacks are upset or confused because their topics aren’t trending. Is that what makes some uncomfortable?

Wayne Sutton ends his post on the topic with the following thought:

…just because you see a few African-Americans creating various trending hashtags on Twitter don’t assume that’s how all “black” people use twitter.”

Anjuan at BlackWeb2.0 was also moved to write about the issue:

These articles also give young black people the impression that they have to adhere to stereotypes in order for their tweets to be interesting. This reinforces the posting of tweets that are written in order to get attention instead of to provide substance.

The Slate article does a great job of presenting the, “Why do they talk, walk, or dress like that?” perspective, but that is shallow and narrow minded.

It hardly tells the full story of how Blacks use Twitter. I know there are plenty of intelligent and thoughtful conversations going on in the Black Digirati.

Look at my Twitter stream and Web content Farhad, and perhaps you’ll see that your “angle” is a very short sighted perspective.

At least try to give more than one view… Of course we know there’s no objectivity in blogging, journalism, or whatever you call what you do.

Monday, August 24th, 2009


by A.man.I

Wow, how life has changed in the three years since MUR was born back on August 23, 2006. I’ve gone from being a veteran traditional broadcast journalist, to an experienced social media practitioner. I say practitioner because using social media takes practice. It’s both an art and science, and I’m really just having fun creating multi-media for my world-wide-web audience.

What have I learned? Social media is great for personal branding, building relationships, facilitating conversations, business, and sharing news. You have to dig in, get your hands dirty and do it all… Write, shoot, edit, take pics, and share, share, share.

Networking offline is just as, if not more important than online networking. When people meet you, shake your hand, or have a conversation, then see the online content, that’s when they say “Wow. That’s pretty inovative.”

I’ve produced a gang of videos, both professional and “webby.” I won a Telly-Award this summer. I host an online, professionally produced show about social media news, trends, and innovation. I’ve traveled all over the country to speak, covered big news stories, and conferences, but there still seems to be so much work to do.

For those of you interested in creating, and not just consuming media, don’t hesitate. Start a blog, write a few thoughts; create a Twitter Facebook, or LinkedIN account, or join a Ning network. But make sure you observe, learn, read, then work on your strategy.

If you’re interested in video, buy Flip cam – or better yet, go mobile. I love how my iPhone handles video, and with applications/sites like Kyte, TwitVid, or Qik, you can share your video instantly. Don’t forget about TubeMogul, or Ustream.

If you’re in the news biz and have a job, feel lucky. Two of my past recent employers, BlackFamilyChannel, and HDNews no longer exist. People are looking, hungry, and execs are trying to figure it out. I suggest you get on this digital/social media train and fast, or else it’s going to run you over.

The power of mass media has shifted to the people, and we can all be a part of the evolution. Social media isn’t perfect. I’m a reporter, but I don’t always spell check, and don’t have an editor. I’m not the New York Times, or CNN, but I know they’re watching too, cuz they’re trying to figure this new media game out.

This week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite videos from the past.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks for tuning in!


A.man.I “theurbanreporter” Channel

East Palo Alto: The Ride – Featuring Salim Channel

I do this for all my rogues.

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009


by A.man.I

The arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. shows that the police will lock a man up for anything, even if he’s on the front porch of his house.

Professor Gates was arrested at his home on July 16 after the alarm went off. It looks like some folks in the neighborhood and the police suspected Gates of being a robber.

According to his lawyer, Professor Gates showed his ID, asked the officer for his name and badge, and asked a few questions, then the cop arrested him for disorderly content.

from TheRoot

As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.

The charges have since been dropped. If you give the boys half a reason, they’ll find an excuse to put you in your place.

Who are they serving and protecting?

Friday, February 20th, 2009




Dear Editor:

I’m trying to understand what possible motivation you may have had for publishing that vile cartoon depicting the shooting of the chimpanzee that went crazy. I guess you thought it would be funny to suggest that whomever was responsible for writing the Economic Recovery legislation must have the intelligence and judgment of a deranged, violent chimpanzee, and should be shot to protect the larger community. Really? Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our President has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?

If that’s not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots. If it is what you intended, then you obviously wanted to be grossly provocative, racist and offensive to the sensibilities of most reasonable Americans. Either way, you should not have printed this cartoon, and the fact that you did is truly reprehensible. I can’t imagine what possible justification you have for this. I’ve read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Rev. Sharpton. It’s about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive.

I believe in freedom of speech, and you have every right to print what you want. But freedom of speech still comes with responsibilities and consequences. You are responsible for printing this cartoon, and I hope you experience some real consequences for it. I’m personally boycotting your paper and won’t do any interviews with any of your reporters, and I encourage all of my colleagues in the entertainment business to do so as well. I implore your advertisers to seriously reconsider their business relationships with you as well.

You should print an apology in your paper acknowledging that this cartoon was ignorant, offensive and racist and should not have been printed.

I’m well aware of our country’s history of racism and violence, but I truly believe we are better than this filth. As we attempt to rise above our difficult past and look toward a better future, we don’t need the New York Post to resurrect the images of Jim Crow to deride the new administration and put black folks in our place. Please feel free to criticize and honestly evaluate our new President, but do so without the incendiary images and rhetoric.

John Legend

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008


by A.man.I

The latest edition of NPR’s News & Notes featured a timely discussion with AfroNerd’s Desmond Burton, AndersonAtLarge’s Faye Anderson, and yours truly.

If you missed it, you can listen to the Blogger’s Roundtable here.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008


by A.man.I


This is a mug shot of the guy who launched the “Obama-is-a-muslim” smear campaign.

TheSmokingGun is reporting that Andy Martin is wanted by the law in New York and Florida for child support, and criminal contempt.

And there’s more. He’s a former congressional candidate with a history of mixing hate with political campaigns.

from TheSmokingGun

[Martin] pledged to “exterminate Jew Power in America,” and claimed that “Jew babies are fed with subsidized American taxpayer money,” and that Jews were “schooled in blood sucking and money grubbing from birth.”

That’s not all. Martin has apparently gotten his 5 minutes in the mainstream, via a Fox News Documentary.

During that October 5 program, Martin claimed that the Democratic presidential candidate was once “in training for radical overthrow of the government.” Martin offered no proof for this claim, nor was any sought by Hannity, who identified Martin as an “Internet journalist.” Nor did Fox mention the kooky Martin’s history of anti-Semitic statements or his arrest record.

Internet journalist… That’s a stretch.


Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008


by A.man.I

I have to thank everyone who reads my blog, sends me links, or shares an idea that they think I may be interested in blogging about.

In this case a former news colleague suggested I check out a NY Times column entitled, Barack Obama, John McCain and the Language of Race.”

If you haven’t read it, check it out.

Saturday, September 20th, 2008


by A.man.I

America has gotten used to the idea of integration. There are black head coaches, and star athletes, but is a Black president still a stretch for mainstream America? The AP takes a look at how race could play a role in this election.

from AP article

Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks – many calling them “lazy,” “violent” or responsible for their own troubles.

For the record, I’ve worked since I was 15. Graduated from a top notch college (University of Florida), I’m in grad school (University of South Florida), and have never been arrested. If i have any economic troubles, it’s because I’m now self-employed after the last media company I worked for folded.

I’ve been married for 7+ years and have a baby on the way, but I’m as hard working as the next man.

When you see or read stories on the news, you probably won’t hear my story, but you certainly will see the crime of the day featured. Could that be part of the reason why people have negative feelings about others?


It would be a shame if people allow their own racist beliefs to interfere with their politics.

Just my two cents.

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