How to Twitter Smarter in 2020’s America

How to Twitter Smarter in 2020’s America - #TwitterSmarter chat with Tinu Abayomi-Paul - July 9, 2020

Black Lives Matter. Of course, there’s no doubt about it. However, it’s rather shameful that it took yet another devastating death in custody for the world to wake up to the harsh realities of our Black people. Our Twitter Smarter community wanted to talk about it. After all, the best way to move forward and shun the stigma around talking about racism is to talk about it.

We invited Tinu Abayomi-Paul, a Black writer, a disabled person, and a social activist. Of course, who better to educate us than someone who’s been actively participating in the cause all their life?

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Topic: How to Twitter Smarter in 2020’s America
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What kind of support do you think our BIPOC communities need on social media?

The acronym BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. However, as our guest pointed out, it’s not ideal to use the acronym to generalize the variety of experiences that people face in our society.

And that’s why, as a Black woman, our guest spoke of her experiences, stating that members of our #TwitterSmarter community would all have varying encounters. And so to support a specific community in our society, we should first acknowledge that we see them. On social media, that means, following people from all walks of lie. This includes the poor, the young the highly influential, people of different sexes, genders, occupations, and hobbies.

The most important thing to remember when you want to show support is that you have to change your social media environment. Only then—only when you hear from people in these communities—can you truly understand how you can stand by them.

Tinu made another great point about being inclusive. We often share images on social media, but sometimes forget that visually impaired people in our society can’t access that image without alternative text. Almost every social channel nowadays lets you add alt text—use it.

Q2: How has your city/country changed since the BLM protests?

Tinu admitted that the Black people she knows have been hoping and waiting for a change for years now, but she also added that they’re “still waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

She hopes that people aren’t just using the Covid situation and lockdowns as an opportunity to raise voices for the Black Lives cause, while waiting for things to return to normal and get back to their usual jobs. She wondered, “Are you vacationing in our lives until end of the coronavirus era lets you go back to having your 9 to 5 corporate job in another building, or when the small business you own adjusts?” And said, “I hope it isn’t that way. I’ve been protesting 30 years, my adult life.”

Our guest also pointed out how hard it’s been for Black people all along and that it took another violent death to bring about protests of this magnitude.

Having said all that, Tinu also voiced her hope and joy at how it feels different this time. Unlike previous incidents, this time, the protests haven’t stopped after a few days, and the United States as a whole shows signs of moving forward.

Sharing his perspective from a different land, Jeremy told us how the English city of Winchester has become more aware of Black people’s issues. As he said, the protests there were peaceful and void of vandalism. Good news!

Kayla, from California, also mentioned that in most parts of the country, the public has been calling for stringent measures against police brutality, and how they’re dealing with racial issues with a mindset unlike ever before.

Q3: How have the protests changed the world’s view of BIPOC people?

Tinu said that it’s been a rather slow change. Of course, more people now realize that BIPOC communities need visibility and justice. However, at the same time, we still have people in our societies who alienate Black communities. As our guest reiterated, BIPOC communities need equality but they don’t need to be one of the many—instead they need to be appreciated for their diversity.

Christine made a great point too, about how the new protests have forced people to admit and acknowledge racism in their everyday lives. As she said, recent events have thrown into light a lot of the horrible things BIPOC endure in the modern world. All of that is now impossible to ignore.

An ultimate example of all the awareness, if you will, is how ubiquitous the acronym has become. As the Black Lives Matter protests triggered global responses, we’ve seen a staggering increase in the use of BIPOC as a word. It’s now the new normal.

Q4: What does it mean to be non-racist?

Masooma shared what the term non-racist is—at least in theory. It’s about treating everyone equally, giving all people the same opportunities. And how wonderful it’d be if more people thought so.

However, our guest called out an important problem with being a non-racist. Though it’s a commendable quality to have as an individual, a non-racist could also be walking past countless actions of racism without either recognizing it or wanting to contend it.

Because racism is internalized in most people, it’s possible to be a racist even without realizing it.

Nix put it succinctly. Being a non-racist is just not enough.

Q5: Who is an anti-racist?

Active is the key word here. Although we have so many people who stand against racism every day, an anti-racist is someone who’s actively fighting racists and racial discrimination in every sense. This not only refers to BIPOC communities that fight for equal rights, but also white and privileged people who recognize their position and use it to help everyone else.

Manuel shared some examples of what being an anti-racist involves: changing hate systems, implementing quality policies in their organizations or communities, and using their leadership to change racist mentality.

Q6: What does it mean to have a fair work environment?

Our guest explained that since the workspaces we know are all unjust, it’s hard to visualize the ideal fair work environment. Although, she suggested, there’re so many things we can do to make our work spaces a little more fair than they are now. For example, when you come across unfair wages, rules that vary based on people’s ethnicity, and situations where BIPOC voices are shunned, stand up for them and show your support. We can only achieve a more fair environment by working together to eradicate negative mentality.

Charlie told us how a fair work environment would look. Everyone would have the same opportunities, including same materials, working space, personal requirements, and ability to operate freely.

Q7: How can you ensure fair working conditions when we all work remotely?

The least we can do when we work remotely is understand that not everyone has access to the same resources. We all have different capacity, different talents, and different family situations to deal with. With so many variables, the only way to establish a fair working situation is to be open minded and considerate.

One of the ways to do this, as Nancy pointed out, is to make sure you’re consistently checking in with your team mates and employees. Everyone needs moral support, even if they’re a highly productive, independent person. Regular check ins—without micromanagement—can help establish trust and show them that you respect and care for them.

Q8: Where can I learn more about supporting our BIPOC people?

Here’s a list of Black women in tech our guest shared.

And here’s list of people from varying backgrounds, who reflect on their position in society. As our guest explained, the list includes people of color, Black, LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities.

And check out this list of 55 women that Tinu recommends following and listening to.

As our guest explained, to understand and learn about BIPOC issues, we should first expand our horizons. We should all follow more people from marginalized communities, which includes all kinds of attitudes, before we know the real problems they experience.

For example, Tinu admitted that there’re so many Black people who wouldn’t agree with her. And Black “people who’re anarchists, socialists, communal, or see nothing wrong with capitalism.” That’s the variety of life. To learn about supporting our Black people, we should approach them all with an open mind. We should do our own research—look them up and understand their values, and as our guest put it, “Vet people. Ask around. Google people’s backgrounds.”

After all, to support anyone, we have to know them first.

For more resources about how you can show your support to our BIPOC communities, sign up for Tinu’s newsletter:

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks a lot for reading and for more great insights from our chat with Tinu, take a look at this comprehensive Twitter Moment that Joana put together. Please do read it—Tinu shared so much more information than I could compile on this blog. It’s well worth your time.

And if you’ve got some time next Thursday, join us for the next #TwitterSmarter chat at 1pm ET.

About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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