Black Twitter Is Laughing Racism to Death
One morning in April of this year, a woman in my city saw two men using a coal-fired barbecue in an area of a park designated for non-charcoal fires. She called the police. But this was Oakland, California — so the woman who called the police was white, and the people having the barbecue were black.
Unfortunately for this woman, a local environmental consultant, almost all of her encounter with the alleged offenders, witnesses, and Oakland police was captured on video. And this video set in motion a series of events that would bring her face-to-face with the full force of Black social media activism. She was just the latest in a string of white people caught on video either during or immediately after calling the police to report African Americans actively engaged in what Black Twitter users have dubbed #LivingWhileBlack.
#LivingWhileBlack means all those activities deemed perfectly acceptable by anyone else but viewed as criminal when undertaken by someone who is Black.
#LivingWhileBlack means all those activities deemed perfectly acceptable by anyone else but viewed as criminal when undertaken by someone who is Black. A student taking a nap in the lounge of their Ivy League dormitory. A couple friends waiting until all members of their party are present before ordering their drinks at Starbucks. Two friends lighting up a barbecue late one Sunday morning.
Anyone familiar with the joke-cracking, irreverent, up-all-night hive mind of Black Twitter could see a snap attack looming on the horizon. Within hours of the confrontation making the news on May 9, Black Twitter was creating, posting, and retweeting increasingly outrageous photo collages of the woman they dubbed #BBQBecky. She was calling the Oakland Police Department on Rosa Parks for sitting at the front of a segregated bus; on Martin Luther King Jr. for holding a March on Washington; on the Soul Train dancers for getting too funky. One of the most retweeted images depicts Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in the background, Dora Milaje from Black Panther in the foreground — and #BBQBecky in the lower-left corner, phone at her ear…