“BlackBuzzfeed” Trends on Twitter, and for Good Reason

Slate's Culture Blog
July 17 2013 5:50 PM

What Is “BlackBuzzfeed”?

For much of today, the hashtag #BlackBuzzfeed was trending nationally on Twitter. What is BlackBuzzfeed, you ask?

Aisha Harris Aisha Harris

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

It is “Taye Diggs, and 8 More Celebrities White People Haven't Realized Black People Don't F*ck With Anymore.” Or “33 Dogs Who Wish a Motherf*cker Would.” As well as “10 people who forgot to code-switch.” Essentially, it’s BuzzFeed, in all its listicle glory, reimagined and repurposed for a black audience. And it’s hilarious.

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Much has been written about “Black Twitter,” a term that arose when social media observers noticed that a lot of black people use the micro-blogging platform, and often discuss issues that may not be on the radar of every white person—whether it’s a hot-button political topic or some pop cultural in-joke. In 2010, Slate’s own Farhad Manjoo wrote about the phenomenon and the ways in which the black community was supposedly using Twitter differently from other demographics. NPR has discussed Black Twitter’s obsession with the breakout hit TV series Scandal. And last night, a post by BuzzFeed editor Shani O. Hilton described “The Secret Power of Black Twitter” in relation to the George Zimmerman trial.

Today’s #BlackBuzzfeed trend seems to have begun earlier this afternoon, right around the time it was announced that Buzzfeed had hired a new black senior sports writer, Joel D. Anderson. A Twitter user named Desusnice tweeted, “Buzzfeed's hiring a lot of Black writers. Looking forward to seeing 'A Different World' recreated using micro pig gifs.” This seemed to inspire another tweet a few minutes later: “The 13 people you meet at the barbershop,” followed by the hashtag #BlackBuzzfeed—and the trend was off. That latter Twitter user credits BrokeyMcPoverty (Tracy Clayton, an editor at The Root), Desusnice, and him or herself with starting it all:

There have been many great examples, and even BuzzFeed has picked out their favorites.

This also isn’t the first time someone has thought to imagine a world where BuzzFeed catered to a black audience—as Rembert Browne pointed out, this trend is nearly identical to a Tumblr called BlackFeed that appears to have been created and shortly abandoned a couple months ago.

There’s a chance that these jokes may not make sense to a lot of readers—and that, of course, is the point, and what makes it fun for everyone in the know. In highlighting these cultural artifacts that are, if not unique, then perhaps uniquely special to people of color, those who participate can laugh about what makes them different, and what other people don’t always seem to understand. It’s a little bit of subversion aimed at the media—and a reminder of the many different perspectives that lie outside of the “mainstream.”

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