When it comes to creating memorable moments on social media, Black people are almost always at the forefront. Whether it’s being responsible for funny trending topics or starting important conversations, the Black community has utilized social media as a space to make difficult issues easier to tackle. Simultaneously, Black culture sits at the center of some of the most hilarious moments on various platforms.
Black folks are the heart of social media and should be recognized as such. In case people have forgotten, here’s a list of 10 funny viral trends and powerful movements started by Black people on social media.
— Dom Dom (@yungdomdom) October 15, 2015
Black Twitter is the pulse of internet savagery, which is why in 2015, there was no surprise when it wasted no time mocking Rachel Dolezal. The former president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, was exposed for being a white woman pretending to be Black. The #AskRachel trend was filled with Black culture trivia aimed at Dolezal, considering she wanted to be Black so badly. #AskRachel provided an important and hilarious reminder that Blackness is about more than just donning braids and having a dark tan. It’s about being a part of an African heritage that’s filled with a variety of rich experiences — something Dolezal lacks.
What will your mother give you when your crying .. ?
A. a dollar
B. a hug
C. sumn to cry for
D. none of the above #AskRachel
— XZX (@BDBDAFREAK) June 18, 2015
Who taught you how to spell independent?
A. 4th grade teacher
B. Your parents
C. Webbie and Boosie #AskRachel
— Xeno Zay tha Great ???? (@IsaiahWoods_16) June 15, 2015
2. The Mannequin Challenge
— yani???? (@pvrity___) October 26, 2016
The mannequin challenge set social media ablaze in 2016. The viral video craze featured people imitating mannequins, as the camera panned around them with “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd playing in the background. Although the Rae Sremmurd song is associated with the challenge, the rap duo didn’t create it. The first video was uploaded by Twitter user @pvrity___, and the rest is history as many others, including former Democratic presidential nominee, participated in the challenge.
Mike Brown should have turned 22 today.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) May 21, 2018
Social media has become the breeding ground for important political movements throughout the decade; such was the case with the Black Lives Matter movement. After a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of killing Trayvon Martin in 2013, community organizer Alicia Garza created the term in a Facebook post described as a “love letter to Black people.” Since then, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has grown into a global network aimed at ending systems of violence projected against Black communities, with Garza as its cofounder.
6 years today since George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin. 6 years since we created #BlackLivesMatter. Thank you @OsopePatrisse and @opalayo. Gratitude to everyone who did not go on about their business. You did this. We did this. Let’s keep going.
— Alicia Garza (@aliciagarza) July 13, 2019
4. Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
Pro tip: Hire Black people to be on your marketing team. Thanks to Black Twitter, Popeyes' chicken sandwich, which was introduced over the summer, has been one of the hottest food items of 2019. It also ignited a virtual chicken sandwich battle that included Chick-fil-A.
The spicy chicken sandwich from Popeyes has no one but Black Twitter to thank for its enormous success. https://t.co/vt3CkuYysj
— ???????? #AtlasArcher (@lenubienne) December 11, 2019
The acclaimed Popeyes sandwich broke the internet as Black Twitter users constantly expressed their approval, which led to the sandwich being sold out multiple times. Nevertheless, the fast-food restaurant chain reaped $65 million in media value from the sandwich being promoted on Twitter. Things Black Twitter did: That.
— HaHa Davis (@HaHaDavis) November 16, 2019
#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair. ????
— April is in NYC (@ReignOfApril) January 15, 2015
Social media hasn’t only provided space for people to critique social systems, it has also been the source of thought-provoking cultural commentary on entertainment issues. Hollywood and its lack of diversity have been a main target for those conversations. Such was the case in 2015 when April Reign, a former managing editor of Broadway Black, created the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to bring awareness to the lack of diversity in the award show’s nominees. The hashtag has transformed into a larger movement that continues to hold the academy accountable for its membership and nominations.
6. Sco Pa Tu Manaa
sco pa tu manaa? pic.twitter.com/7ryOAFMDAS
— madison smith (@madisonysmith) December 9, 2019
If you’ve seen this trend on your social media timeline, then it’s likely you’ve seen it more times than you’d like. You were also probably wondering what the phrase even means. Ghanaian musician Patapaa coined the viral phrase, using it in his song “Daavi Neba.” Released in April, it ignited social media attention.
Sco pa tu manaa? pic.twitter.com/9DX4j9YK1q
— ???? (@mimseralexisyha) November 9, 2019
“Sco pa tu manaa” has a variety of meanings in different languages that can be boiled down to “I’ll hit you” or “what does this experience remind you of,” according to Know Your Meme. The latter of the two meanings aligns more with how the phrase was used online as people asked others their opinions on a variety of topics.
View this post on Instagram
We have to reprogram ourselves to root out #victimblaming language everywhere we see it, no matter how unintentional. Words matter. Hold ADULTS accountable for their actions against children. . . #MuteRKelly #Rkelly #SurvivingRKelly #BlackGirlsMatter #EndRapeCulture #SupportSurvivors #BrownGirlsMatter #ChildSexTrafficking #ChildSexualAbuse #rapeapologists
This viral hashtag was created in 2017 by activists Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, who started protesting R.Kelly concerts because of his alleged sexual deviance and predatory behavior with young women. The #MuteRKelly movement encompasses a two-decade fight that aims to eliminate the streaming of R.Kelly’s music and seek criminal punishment for the singer. Goals of the movement have come to fruition this year as R.Kelly’s actions have been further exposed in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R.Kelly, which was followed by new sexual abuse charges taken against R.Kelly.
How many more abused young women do we need to hear from, to believe that this man is a predator? 19? He was over 50!! Do you really think this was hyperbole and histrionics? No! People put themselves on the line, because enough was enough! #MuteRKelly
— Kenyette Tisha Barnes (@LegisEmpress) November 25, 2019
Ruth George didn't owe her murderer a thing. She didn't owe him time, or space, or her life. We are in a world that protects rape culture and violence against women + girl's. Enough is enough. Praying for her family + UIC.#MeToo#SayHerName
— Kina Collins (@Kina4Congress) November 26, 2019
Although three Black women created the Black Lives Matter Movement, the experiences of women were erased from conversations regarding police brutality. That was until 2014 when the African-American Policy Forum launched the #SayHerName campaign to bring awareness to Black women who were victims of police brutality. After the 2015 deaths of Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman, the hashtag gained even more momentum. The #SayHerName campaign has successfully amplified the message that Black women’s lives also matter.
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) November 7, 2019
Five years ago today, Tanisha Anderson was taken from us. May she rest in power, and may she never be erased from our memories. We must refuse to be silent on the mass killing of Black women. We must #SayHerName. pic.twitter.com/yR6a3h6x40
— African American Policy Forum (@AAPolicyForum) November 14, 2019
9. 'In My Feelings' Challenge
YouTube | Stiff Lauren
In typical Drake fashion, the Canadian rapper ruled the summer of 2018 with his hit single “In My Feelings,” which resulted in a viral dance sensation of the same name. However, Drake didn’t launch the phenomenon. The challenge actually started with Instagram comedian Shiggy, who made his own dance routine to the song’s lyrics. His video went viral and inspired millions of others, including celebrities, to participate and post videos of themselves dancing to the hit.
— Sterling K Brown (@SterlingKBrown) July 10, 2018
— EiE Nigeria (@EiENigeria) April 9, 2019
After nearly 300 Chibok girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school, a viral social media campaign titled #BringBackOurGirls brought awareness to the issue and demanded for Boko Haram to release the girls back to their families. The campaign was shared by the likes of Michelle Obama, the Pope and Malala Yousafazi. Although more than 100 girls are still missing, the campaign was successful in bringing the stories of the abducted girls to light and created awareness for subsequent Boko Haram kidnappings.
On this #InternationalDayforTheEliminationofViolenceAgainstWomen, our demand for all women in captivity is #BringBackOurGirls. pic.twitter.com/vn1BQybvXs
— #BringBackOurGirls (@BBOG_Nigeria) November 25, 2019
These examples, and countless others, prove that Black people are the driving forces behind many of social media's biggest moments.