Black Twitter is perfect. Between the memes, one-off jokes, and hilarious commentary, Black Twitter single-handedly made Netflix’s original film, Bird Box, a cultural phenomenon in less than 48 hours. This free viral marketing is the reason companies spend thousands of dollars “borrowing” content from Black Twitter.
The laughs have extended beyond the tweets themselves. What’s now a subtle art of Black Twitter is users taking key moments to create clever names. While some are references to mainstream culture at large, most are specific references to Black culture past and present. Everyday while aimlessly scrolling through my timeline, I’ll notice a name that actually makes me laugh out loud. Here are twenty of my favorite Twitter names, enjoy:
1) Avengers’ Funeral Coordinator
With the average funeral in America costing a little over $7,000, the death industry is quite lucrative. And considering Marvel “killed off ” 12 characters in Infinity Wars, it makes perfect sense for someone to want to be the Avengers' exclusive funeral coordinator. Yes, this is a spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie. Yes, I know this isn’t how a spoiler alert works.
2) Resha (no, I’m not riding)
If you’ve been on the internet at any point since July 2018 then you’ve probably heard “In My Feelings” by Drake. The song exploded to the top of the charts after comedian and internet personality The Shiggy Show released an Instagram clip of him dancing to the track. According to Drake, “In My Feelings” wasn’t even going to be the album’s next single, but when he saw that anyone with phone access was doing “The Shiggy Challenge”, Drake and his team decided they had to shoot a music video for the song and include Shiggy himself.
The chorus is lover-boy Aubrey seeking affirmation by asking a different girl each time if she loves him, if she's riding, if she’ll never leave his side because he wants and needs her; all while claiming to be down for her always.
The term “riding” comes from the phrase “Ride or Die". It’s every urban Bonnie and Clyde’s love creed. In it’s most flattering definition, a Ride or Die Chick is a woman who offers unwavering support to her man no matter the circumstance and will journey wherever their love takes them. It’s them against the world, and if she is forced to choose between dying on behalf of their love or turning against her man, she will choose death. What men have used the concept of a Ride or Die Chick to actually mean is for a woman to support them no matter how terrible their decisions are or how much pain a man has put her through so that he will always have a safety net to fall back on. So no, Resha is not riding; know better, do better.
3) That one light-skinned member of the Dora Milajae
The release of Marvel’s Black Panther was a generation defining event. Grossing over $1.347 billion dollars worldwide, it became the highest grossing solo superhero film of all-time, the third-highest grossing film of the MCU, the 9th highest-grossing film of all-time, and the highest-grossing film by a black director. Black Panther is the first mega-budget movie to have an all Black cast and director; and although Wakanda is a fictional country, Black Panther is one of the few films that highlights Africa positively and not through the usual despondent poverty stricken western gaze.
Among Black people, Black Panther broke boundaries. Dating back to slavery, skin color has been a tool used to divide Black people, placing those of a lighter tone, which is considered closer to whiteness, on a pedestal. Light-skinned slaves were able to work in the owners’ house rather than the plantation where the work was violent and arduous. Fair-skinned runaway slaves were able to “pass” in society and better avoid being captured and taken back to their owners. Post-slavery, light-skinned Blacks had better employment and housing opportunities as well as other privileges darker-skinned Blacks weren’t afforded.
Hollywood has had its own biases. Historically, Black female entertainers have overwhelmingly been lighter-skinned with more euro-centric features; longer hair, lighter skin and eyes, thinner lips, a narrower nose. Viola Davis is a great example of an actress who has had to work extremely hard not because of her talent, but because she simply has not fit the mold for what America deems as beautiful. 20 and 22 year-old actresses Amandla Stenberg and Zendaya, both who are biracial, have truthfully acknowledged the fact that their skin tone has made them more desirable in Hollywood. The young stars have courageously spoken out against Hollywood’s colorism problem and the lack of representation for darker-skinned women.
The minute Marvel teased us with images from Black Panther, dark-skinned Black women such as myself collectively gasped when we saw the special force team that is the Dora Milajae. Here we have King T’Challa/Black Panther and Wakanda, the strongest most advance nation in the universe, being guarded by an all-woman militia. Second, these beautifully strong melanated warrior women were free from what society has deemed the ultimate measure of a woman’s femininity, their hair. Incredible.
4) Shuri’s Lab Partner
While T’Challa and Killmonger were the stars of Black Panther, Shuri, T’challa’s baby sister played by Letitia Wright, stole the film. The literal definition of Black Girl Magic, Shuri is a sharp and witty STEM genius who is exponentially smarter than inventor Tony Stark. STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has been a male dominated field with little representation or investment in Black communities. The presence of Shuri and the prominent role science and technology serve in Black Panther extends beyond the MCU. After the success of Black Panther and the excitement around Shuri, Disney donated $1 million dollars to 12 different Boys and Girls Clubs of America. One of those cities being Oakland, California, the hometown of director Ryan Coogler.
If science is as foreign of a language to you as it is for me, Shuri is the first person you run to when your chemistry teacher says to pair up with a partner.
Deadass, another one of New York City’s gift to the English lexicon. It means “I’m serious”, “No joke”, or “For real”. And Deadpool, the film about an unconventional self-loathing mercenary who fell into the occupation after a science experiment on his disfigured body went awry. The combination of the words is just funny.
6) Tekashi 69 years in prison
I don’t want to give Tekashi 69 more attention, but this Twitter name is appropriate. Tekashi 69 is a rowdy face-tattoo Soundcloud rapper from Brooklyn. He says the N-word way too much, is constantly screaming about his gun, and has a gross criminal record. Part of the 69’s attention garnering and ascent to fame was him going on Instagram professing his gang affiliation and bragging about his illegal exploits. Well as sure as the motto goes, “the feds were listening”. Tekashi was arrested in November of 2018 and is facing federal racketeering as well as firearm charges with with the possibility of serving a minimum of 32 years in prison. The prosecution team is using his Instagram as evidence. Prison is terrible and I am not celebrating his incarceration, but the irony is hard to miss.
7) Gordan Gartrell Lead Designer
Bill Cosby is rightfully in prison and my heart goes out to the brave survivors. The Cosby Show is also a landmark sitcom that launched the careers of countless actors and became the blueprint for many programs after it. These two facts are hard to reconcile and I’m not going to attempt to do such in this particular post.
One of my favorite episodes of The Cosby Show is “A Shirt Story”. In this episode, Theo Huxtable, the family of seven’s only son, purchases a very expensive “Gordan Gartrell” designer shirt for his date. And like any sensible Black parent, his well-off physician father Dr. Heithcliff Huxtable and attorney mother Claire Huxtable make Theo return the shirt because he is a teenager who doesn’t make Gordan Gartrell money. Disappointed he can’t wear his planned outfit, Theo’s fashionable sister Denise, played by the forever cool Lisa Bonet (Zoe Kravitz’ momma), offers to make him a shirt she insists will look just like the Gordan Gartrell.
Denise’s creation did not at all look like the original and 30 years later references to the famed shirt are still popular.
8) Sean John Velour Sweatsuit
Early 2000s fashion: chains, du-rags, fitted caps, throwback jerseys, and matching sweatsuits. There aren’t many things that symbolize the early 2000s more than Diddy’s line of Sean Jean velour tracksuits. I never understood how people wore them outside of the fall and winter seasons because each suit weighs about 20 pounds and is insulated with the thickest velour on earth. But fashion knows no temperature.
9) Ray J’s moving hat
Ray J, entertainer, Kim Kardahsian’s ex-boyfriend, Brandy’s little brother, singer of my favorite Pharrell track, “Wait a Minute”; a true American icon. The entrepreneur and businessman is also on the reality TV show Love & Hip Hop. And in August 2018, an episode premiered that threw Black twitter into a complete frenzy. Thanks to an amazingly poor editing job during a 30 second segment featuring Ray J and Nicki Minaj’s ex, Safaree, we see Ray J’s beanie move around his head 6 different times. It’s truly magic
10) Angela Basset’s Missing Oscar
Angela Basset is one of the greatest actors of our lifetime. She played the legendary Tina Turner better than Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It and committed to the role so hard that she still has the biceps to show for it 25 years later. Nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award, Black America will not ever get over the fact that she didn’t win the Oscar. As a consolation prize, the universe made sure Angela never ages and just gets more beautiful with time.
11) Don’t be mad, UPS is hiring
Bad Boy Records recording artist Craig Mack, may he rest in peace, made one of the most important hip-hop songs of all-time with 1994’s “Flava In Ya Ear”. He then followed it up with the remix of all remixes in which Biggie, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, and prime Puff Daddy ad-libing and dancing away, each give Michael Jordan game 6 performances.
The line, “Don’t be mad UPS is hiring” is a word of advice The Notorious B.I.G. offers to a rapper whose skills are so bad, Biggie thinks they should quit and apply to UPS instead.
12) I know i want my key back
If you don’t watch Issa Rae’s HBO show Insecure, you’re not going to understand this reference. To quickly give context, Issa’s best friend in the show, Molly, is a high-strung, tight-wound successful lawyer who can’t get out of her own way when it comes to dating. Molly doesn’t trust any man’s intentions as she refuses to let a man “distract” her from her career goals.
In season 2, Molly reconnects with her childhood friend, Dro. Dro and Molly start hanging out and soon start a romantic fling. The only problem is Dro’s married, but in an open relationship. Season 3 begins with Molly struggling with her and Dro’s situationship as they are getting emotionally involved which is not a part of the rules and is only complicating things. It’s TV’s version of SZA’s “The Weekend”. Molly begins to distance herself from Dro to avoid getting hurt. But one day in particular, frustrated by Dro’s lack of respect for the boundaries she sets, he demeaningly says to her that she doesn’t know what she wants. Taken aback by the remark, Molly quickly replies with, “I know I want my key back” in reference to the spare key to her place she gave him, effectively ending their fling.
13) Nice Gowns, Beautiful Gowns
Most people know Aretha Franklin, may rest in peace, as the Queen of Soul. But what’s just as important as her musical legacy was her propensity to throw the best shade. If you aren’t familiar with the word “shade”, it means to subtly “diss” someone. Using seemingly kind words and euphemisms, Arthea mastered the art of disrespecting someone without the person even knowing it. She was also quite proficient at giving underhanded comments
In this clip from a few years ago, Aretha is asked about the current wave of female vocalists, which in my opinion was a set up. That’s like asking Michael Jordan about middle school basketball players, he doesn’t care. With each name the interviewer lists, Aretha tries her absolute best to come up with something constructive. By the time she is asked about Taylor Swift, she had run out of words. This is verbatim what Aretha says about Ms. Swift’s singing career: “Okay, well, nice gowns, beautiful gowns”. Nothing at all to do with her artistry or singing abilities. Aretha was applying the rule, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
14) SMITHSONIAN FUBU MUSEUM
Another early 2000s fashion staple, FUBU, which radically means “For Us By Us” was ahead of its time. FUBU created the blueprint for not only young Black designers but Black business owners in general. FUBU helped instill the idea that young Black artists should take full control of their ingenuity and center their vision around Black people.
27 years after FUBU’s creation, its impact is as strong as ever. Solange uses the idiom as a rallying cry on her album A Seat at the Table. And in Season 3 of Atlanta, there is a gut-wrenching episode that shows just how valuable FUBU and fashion is for Black kids who feel the only way America sees their value is if they look a certain way. FUBU’s legacy justifies its placement in the Smithsonian museum.
15) IF YOU’RE NOT BLACK DON’T SAY IT
I’m not going to spend time offering an academic, socio-political linguistic analysis of the N-word. I’m not breaking down the word’s roots, educating those on its current reclamation by the people previously oppressed by it, nor am I going dissect power and race dynamics in America. The fact is it’s not about if you think anyone should be saying the N-word or not. If you are not Black, you should not say the word nor should you want to, period.
16) 99% of Americans have immigrant ancestors
And this land was stolen from the Native Americans.
17) bird box really didn’t have any black women in it?!
It’s 2019. So yes we are still collectively shocked when a major film does not have a black woman in it.
18) The Black Maroon 5 Member
If you grew up in a predominately white neighborhood and attended predominately white schools, then your childhood photos probably look like these. When you listen to Maroon 5’s music, you wouldn’t think that anyone in that group is a person of color. But there you have it, PJ Morton himself. I hope he accompanies Adam Levine in the Super Bowl halftime show because Atlanta is very black and that stage is going to need as much color as possible.
19) Knuck If You Brunch
Negro spirituals, songs African Americans made that were all about escaping the racist horrors of this world like slavery, lynching, poverty and oppression. “Wade in the Water, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, are all about God’s children believing they will reap the good they sewed here on when they finally get to heaven. A grim look at faith, but it got my ancestors through nonetheless.
Times are still tough for Black people; disproportionate rates of incarceration, murders at the hand of the police, disinvestment in our communities, negligible access to credit or capital, which are financial tools needed to shrink the 400-year wealth gap between White and Black Americans.
Millineal Black adults feel the pressures of this in additon to crippling student loan debt, stagnant wages, and increasing costs of living. So we too have had to compose our own Negro Spirituals. A bit different sonically, with 808 drums, heavy samples and hand claps. But the desire for freedom, expression of frustration, joy and excitement are still there in the music. Atlanta rap group Crime Mob blessed us with 2004’s Negro Spiritual, “Knuck If You Buck”. If you’ve never heard the song before and you find yourself at a party, club, or large social gathering with Black people when it comes on, please find the nearest exit and run to it immediatly, because the best kind of riot is about to breakout.
Similarly like our ancestors who took the scraps they were given to make what we now know today as soul food, us Black millenials have learned to take our low balance checking accounts and make the funds stretch enough to include luxurious feasts; weekend brunches. Bottomless mimosas and shrimp and grits will get our money sooner than Sallie Mae will.
20) The Pistons Took Darko in the 03draft
You know what they say? Can’t trust anyone with frosted tips. The 2003 NBA draft is widely considered one of the best drafts of all time. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, and a high school kid by the name of LeBron James were the drafts first round picks. The Detroit Pistons had the number two pick after Cleveland selected the King himself. And out of all the elite names to choose from, guess who Detroit chose? Yup, Darko Miličić. The 7-foot Serbian standout spent 11 years in the NBA amassing a little under 3,000 career points, only playing more than 60 out of a possible 82 regular season games 4 times in his career. Successful in his own right, Darko went further as a professional athlete than 99% of us ever will by reaching the NBA. But as a Pistons fan, it’s hard not ask the question, “what if?”. Especially when lower picks in that draft included Kyle Korver, David West, and Kendeick Perkns; the last two being eventual NBA champions.
Best Bio: I know I look like the blue Avatar people. I KNOW.
“I know I look like the blue Avatar people. I KNOW”. I aspire to reach this level of self-awareness.
Most Important: Flint, MI hasn’t had clean water since 4-24-2014
Flint hasn’t had clean water since April of 2014. Seeing that no one in our government seems to care, citizens like Little Miss Flint have taken it upon themselves to hold bottled-water drives where hundred of people line for hours to simply get free clean water. Please click the link below to donate.