From Cafe los Negros to Black Girl Twitter: A Note on Race and Ownership of Social Media Properties

 Cafe los Negros


Last year while writing my book I read (@ Moya’s recommendation) “Race, Technology and Everyday Life“, edited by Alondra Nelson, Thuy Lihn N. Tu and Alicia Headlam Hines.

In this book there is a hell of an interview by Andrew Ross of Mclean Mashingaidze Greaves. Greaves was the founder of Cafe los Negros an online destination for Urban Black and Latino folks founded in 1996. Yes. 1996, nearly 20 years ago.

Now I am going to get into race, access to venture capital, Black girl twitter and why Greaves was a visionary.

First, what is deep to me about this interview is that Greaves was running an internet start up company out of Bed Stuy in 1996. He was a visionary. He saw that the internet was a natural space for urban folks of color to congregate and support independent artists. He understood that once broadband expanded then independent content creators like myself, would be able to interact directly their their communities. He knew that the television and the internet would eventually become fused together. He also foresaw that that there would be a niche to be filled, as Brown and Black folks in the city with disposable incomes would begin to want media that was relevant to their lives. The Black gossip blogosphere and the hip hop blogosphere speaks to that, so does the evolution of The Root, Ebony, Essence and Jet.

Ultimately, Greaves argues that his company was cut off at its knees because he needed a team and funding to really gain some traction.

Here is the thing that disturbs me about the current rhetoric around women, technology, coding, venture capital, Black girl twitter and even crowd funding.

Whether than complain about diversity and numbers who is funding venture capital pipelines for folks of color to OWN their platforms, rather than continuously uploading free content to Wall Street traded social media platforms all day (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yahoo…etc.)

Reading this Greaves essay shows me that even prior to the rise of the Blogosphere, young urban Black and Brown people were trying to OWN their own platforms. Not only where they trying to own their own platforms but that had a sense of building community while they did so. They were trying to own their own platforms while living in the ‘hood. After I read this, I was really curious as to why Greaves’ narrative is absent from the “we need to teach folks to code” discourse. Of course I am being rhetorical and marking power here because it is important.

Now let me tie this to Black girl twitter.

According to Pew Internet research I’ve known since appropriately 2010 that Black women are hyper represented on twitter. Because I’ve known that Black women are hyper represented on Twitter, I’ve been sensitive to the notion that NOT ALL social media platforms are equal. For instance, I can go back through all 963 blog posts I have written here I have statistics on which are the most popular, I can find old comments, I can see the countries of the people who visit my site. This level of social media info isn’t available on Twitter (even though they just upped their analytic cards) and you cannot get granular levels of details about who has visited your page and when, and for how long from Facebook.

My point about Black girl twitter is that I came to the conclusion at the end of last year that Black women (primarily in the US and on the coasts) are creating quantifiable value for other peoples media content on Twitter. I didn’t understand this until, one day while watching a show on OWN, a friend pointed out that there was a group of people sitting at a desk on laptops within a frame of the show. If you blinked you would have missed it. I was told that those are producers, interacting with Twitter users and that this was a relatively new development. I was also told that show runners negotiate for MORE money for ad sales for shows that have high tweet engagement. This is one of the ways in which Black women create quantitative value for television shows, but on user generated content sites, as they stand now, they will not be rewarded for this value creation. Don’t believe me, see Scandal Thursdays, Being Mary Jane Tuesdays, or the tweet volume associated with the airing of  the Black Girls Rock award show.

I am still working out these ideas here, however I am clear that it is ahistorical to rely on coding rhetoric when thinking about the pipeline of Black and Brown technologists.

Greaves legacy shows that Black and Brown folks have been visionaries with regard to early adopting digital technologies and leveraging them to build businesses and niche communities.

Perhaps there needs to be less diversity talk, and more of an examination of the past, as well as more money placed into pipe lines to create the owners that folks like Greaves wanted to be nearly 20 years ago. Let me be clear here, I am not simply talking about making more moguls, but I am thinking about tech literacy, and justice literacy as it pertains to these tech spaces. I am particularly concern because the internet of things (sensors being placed on objects that then store information such as your refrigerator sensing that you are low on milk) will become an ingrained part of our day to day lives as we move into the future.

What are the limits of tech diversity rhetoric?

Did you know about Greaves? What does it mean that a Black dude who was trying to create a start up 20 years ago in Bed Stuy?

Overall post response? Is this really about making little Black and Brown Mark Zuckerbergs? If so, what are the benefits and costs?


More on Greaves here:


On Black Women x Hip Hop x Feminism in 2014


I am going to be @ UDC doing a panel on Hip Hop and Sexuality as a part of the One Mic DC Festival. If you are in the area, please stop by, I’d love to see you.

Feminism and social media has hit a tipping point of sorts over the last 6 months with regard to online conversations. As a person who has been blogging/writing about the intersection of hip hop and feminism for nearly, gasp, ten years, I have a unique perspective.

So here is what I am thinking about. Boom Bap. Feminism and the Political/Politics of who gets in the archive.

  • There is a post right now on The Awl about Women of Color and boom bap, as it pertains to the documentary series “The Tanning of America.” These conversations are peculiar to me because the elephant in the room is that SOME people just are not interested in hearing what Black women have to say. Now a lot of folks won’t say that shit out loud, BUT, I think that that is the subtext to a lot of these conversations. This blog post which addresses gender and why some men CAN’T listen to Nicki Minaj underscores it.  Furthermore, Choosing NOT to listen to someone is an act of power. It isn’t also lost on me that Black Girl Emcees are underrepresented in the documentary “The Tanning of America.” In fact it underscores a clear pattern with regard to the treatment of Black women and girls. Black women solidly voted democratic and for president Obama, we are a key part of his base. However his most recently policy chooses to focus on our brothers and our sons, but we street teamed for him in ways like no one else did. The data shows this. One of the central jobs of Feminists in general and Black feminists in particular have been writing Black women back into history even if we have to do it in the crevices; for now. Choosing to write yourself into history is an act of power as well.
  • So I have been thinking about Nas and his feminist mafia tweet. Nasir Jones’ Illmatic has been central to my identity since I was as a teenager. Especially as a teenager.  So has Black feminism. See this blog post “Michele Wallace and Illmatic.”I had been going back and forth with Britni Danielle about Nas and that tweet and I came to clear conclusion. I am not really invested in what Nasir Jones thinks about feminism unless and only if he is using is platform as a space to interrogate healthy forms of Black masculinity, and toxic Black masculinity!!! The hood needs it. AND, I really think it would be interesting. This is no shade to Britni, she is my homegirl we’ve been in this internet game together for a hot minute and if all goes well we will be doing a book reading in LA next year. However, I needed to untangle, and mark my concern OR lack of investment in what he has to say about that topic. I think the other things is, two Black girls, queer Black girls were murdered two weeks ago ostensibly because they were a couple.  In fact, Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson may have been murdered by Britney’s father. They were killed and left near a garbage can. The fuck? And Relisha Rudd is still missing. I think that questions of state violence against Black people, and violence against Black girls in Black families presses ME more right now.
  • I just want Black girls to be free. Not just the sons. If I ruled the world. <—You see what I did there? #blackgirlsarefromthefuture.
  • All this being said. I am happy that there is a lot of theoretical energy invested in Black feminism online. I think it is the work of 100 years of often unacknowledged/ under acknowledged work by Black women and women of color.

What do you think about hip hop and feminism and 2014?

Is the issue really that some folks don’t give a shit about what Black women have to say?

Or is the issue that I am tripping because we can care about Relisha, Britney and Crystal AND Nas?

Oh and I LOVE my Ice Cube meme. I am winning!

Black Girls Are From The Future Meet and Greet: Event Photos

On Saturday July 20th, 2013, one of my dreams came true. We celebrated the work of Mambu Badu Photography Collective and the release of my new book Black Girls Are from the Future: Essays on Race Digital Creativity and Pop Culture.
For those of you who were able to make it out to the event in that hot sweltering heat, I really appreciate it. For those of you who were there in spirit, you are appreciated too!
















You can buy the book Black Girls are from the Future: Essays on Race, Digital Creativity and Pop Culture on Amazon and Big Cartel.






Don’t we look simply smashing!




Black Girls Are from the Future _MB Flyer


The official event flyer. #archives!

























The new edition of the “Black Girls are from the Future” tote bags are here as well. This version is larger, brown and cotton! You can buy these at Big Cartel as well. There is a limited number of t-shirts available in small, medium and large.

More event photos are available on Facebook, and

Hip Hop Feminisms: Digital Black Feminisms – An Archive by Renina Jarmon

There has been a substantial amount of work created at the intersection of Digital Black Feminisms and Hip Hop Feminisms over the last five or so years. While finishing my book Black Girls Are From the Future: Essays on Race Digital Creativity and Pop Culture I realized that a lot of the contemporary and cutting edge work currently done at this intersection is happening on the internet (thank you to @zandria for pointing this out!)  I also realized that I have written nearly 30 blog posts written at this intersection.  Some of the work is awful and I am not proud of it, some of the work is awesome, in that I am pushing the limits on race, gender and sexuality in hip hop within the public sphere. There are also moments where it seemed as though I was writing to stay alive.

I decided to make the beginnings of an archive of this work so that this history isn’t obscured, lost or rendered irrelevant like so much of the work created by our Black feminist foremothers. My rationale is that in archiving our work, I archive theirs too, because we would not exist without the Black feminists and womanists who came before us. Please leave additional articles, blog posts that I may have missed in the comments section. #StakesIsHigh.

BLOG POSTS AND ARTICLES – Hip Hop Feminisms: Digital Black Feminisms

Beyonce Says Big Ego, but Ruth says, “Eat your [damn] eggs, Walter Lee” by Fallon W, 2009.

Chris Brown is Effing Up My Sex Life by Crunktastic, 2011

And You Even Licked My Balls: A Black Feminist Note on Nate Dogg by Renina Jarmon, 2011

Is Beyonce the Face of Contemporary Feminism? by Arielle Loren, 2011

On Being Feminisms Ms. N-I-G-G-A by Latoya Peterson, 2011

Nicki Minaj: The Flyest Feminist by April Gregory, 2011

First You Gotta Put Your Neck Into It: Loving Pariah by Andreana Clay, 2012

Ooh La La La: Reflections on Lady T by Andreana Clay, 2010

Hip Hop, Patriarchy: My Struggles with Mobb Deep by Renina Jarmon, 2008

by Arielle Loren

Dear Old Morehouse, by 2009 L’Heureux Dumi Lewis-McCoy

Feminism and Hip Hop Blogs: An Uneasy Marriage by Renina Jarmon, 2011

On the Mean Girls of Morehouse, by Moya Bailey, 2010

On Eddie Long and NWNW, by Moya Bailey, 2010

Really Regis, by Moya Bailey, 2011

Musing on Genealogies, Sex, Digital Black Feminisms by Renina Jarmon, 2011

Why Jay Electronica Can Choke on His Own Words by Crunktastic, 2010

Beyond/With Precious: Black Women Incest and Rape by Renina Jarmon and Moya Bailey, 2010

For Colored Bloggers Who Consider Racism and Sexism by Renina Jarmon, 2010

On Ashely Judd and The Politics of Citation by Moya Bailey, 2011

My Daddy Ain’t No Feminist by Renina Jarmon, 2010

I Know Why Zane Sells by Renina Jarmon, 2008

Why People Hate 808’s and Heartbreak by Renina Jarmon, 2008

We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For, Young Black Feminists Take Their Research and Activism Online by Moya Bailey and Alexis Pauline Gumbs, 2010

Students At Spellman College Protest Nelly’s Video ‘Tip Drill by Moya Bailey, 2005.

Tricks Getting Whipped: Race, Class, and the “Politics of Obliteration” in Memphis by Zandria Robinson, 2013

Carry on Tradition by Britni Danielle, 2010

DOCUMENTARIES, VIDEOS AND FILMS – Hip Hop Feminisms: Digital Black Feminisms

Beyond Beats and Rhymes dir. by Byron Hurt

My Mic Sounds Nice dir. by Ava Duvernay (Check here, here and here too.)

Black Woman Walking dir. by Tracey Rose

Say My Name dir. by Nirit Peled

Who’s that Girl: Women of Color in Hip Hop dir. by Nuala Cabral

Barack and Curtis by Byron Hurt

Walking Home by  Nuala Cabral

Hey Shorty by Girls For Gender Equity, 2009

Hollaback Interview: Nuala Cabral by HollaBackPhilly, 2011


When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost:My Life As a Hip Hop Feminist by Joan Morgan, 1999.

Home Girls Make Some Noise edited by Gwendolyn Pough, 2007. (Synopsis here.)

Stand and Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership and Hip Hop Culture by Yvonne Bynoe, 2004.

From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism by Patricia Hill Collins, 2006.

Nappy Happy: A Conversation Between Ice Cube and Angela Davis by Angela Davis,  1992

 bell hooks Interview by Lawrence Chua, 1994

Wish To Live: The Hip-hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader edited by Ruth Nicole Brown and Chamara Jewel Kwakye, 2012.

Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak by Bettina L. Love, 2012.

Mapping the Intersections: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color by Kimberle Crenshaw, 1993

Black Noise by Tricia Rose, 1994

Hip Hop Wars by Tricia Rose, 2008

Hip Hop Matters, Craig Watkins, 2006

The Fire This Time, Young Activists and The New Feminism edited by , 2004

Colonize This!:Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism edited by Daisey Hernandez and Bushra Rehman, 2002

Pimps Up, Hoes Down: Hip Hops Hold on Young Black Women by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, 2008

Bulletproof Diva, Lisa Jones, 1997