When Twitter announced the hiring of Jeffrey Siminoff as head of diversity in December of 2015, Mark Luckie, former manager of journalism and news at Twitter, penned a blog for TheVerge.com expressing his disappointment in Twitter's decision to hire a "white man in a company full of white men" for the purposes of encouraging diversity. "As someone who fought for internal diversity, I am dismayed," wrote Luckie.
According to a 2015 report from The Guardian, Blacks represent just 1.7% of the company's staff (35 men, 14 women in a staff of 2,910), despite making up it's most intense user-base. This lack of representation is one of many factors that sent Luckie in search of other platforms for documenting the Black experience.
BET.com spoke with Luckie on Wednesday (January 13) to learn what inspired him to launch TodayInBlackTwitter.com and to hear how he responds to Blacks and Whites who question why spaces like BET and "Black Twitter" are necessary.
Why do you think “Black spaces” are still necessary in mainstream forums?
Black people want to see positive representation of themselves. Too often in mainstream media, culture and business, we are excluded based on who we are and what we look like. So, I created this for the same reason that HBCU’s exist, which is to reflect the culture we have and why it's so important.
Who have been your loudest critics so far? You will always have the traditional white voices that say, “There’s no White Entertainment Television, so why do you get BET?” But you also have black people that would say, "Why are we self-segregating?"
I don’t think it’s that were separating ourselves; we’re just highlighting our own achievements because we're being excluded from other places.
What are you actually doing to bring “Black Twitter” out of the actual Twitter space?
What I did is take the hashtags that “Black Twitter” was talking about. So for example: #MasculinitySoFragile or #CNNBeLike or #OnHere. I took a look at who are the influential people having conversations about the hashtag. Based on that, I’m able to see where the conversations are moving forward. It’s all done by algorithm, so it’s not something I pick and choose and say, “This person’s Black Twitter and this person’s not.” I don’t think anybody can really do that. But the technology exists and it’s existed for a while. I'm just the first person to take advantage of it and created it in this way.
What is it about social media, and most specifically Twitter, that engages Black folks at a higher rate than other cultures?
Frankly, Black people like talking amongst themselves. Black people really seize on communication to broaden their community. Because we go through a lot of the same struggles and a lot of the same celebrations, we have a shared culture on Twitter and products like this site bring it all together.
What are you hoping to accomplish with Today In Black Twitter?
I don’t know if I have a goal in mind, honestly. I want to see what other people do with it. Nothing like this exists. I'm really just leaving that to the readers to decide. But I wanted to ensure that I’ve put it out there because it was such a needed component to the social media conversation.
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(Photo: Tinnetta Bell)