Whether because of their consumption of hip-hop, unfamiliar slang or their seemingly addiction to drama filled reality TV such as Basketball Wives, urban Black youth and young adults are often chastised and talked down to by the Baby Boomer generation.
Many in the Baby Boomer or “Civil Rights” generation say Black Youth and Young adults simply don’t care. However studies show Black Generation Y are on the cutting edge of new forms of participatory politics that may have the capacity to broaden their impact on traditional community practices…. social media.
In today’s technology-driven society, “anybody who is anybody” has a profile on one or more social networking sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Black youth are no exception and have been shown to be amongst the most frequent users of social networking sites and mobile internet.
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that young adults are more likely than others to use major social media sites. It also shows youth and young adults (especially blacks) are on Instagram and Twitter Primarily, Twitter being especially popular.
This research is supported by Edison Research which shows shows that for Black Americans, the social network of choice is Twitter, as 25% of Twitter users are African Americans (approximately double the U.S. population).
This raises a huge point that Twitter is Disproportionately Popular with African Americans.
In 2012, Black political scientist Cathy Cohen (University of Chicago) and Joseph Kahne of Mills College released “Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action” a report in which a team of researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 youth between the ages of 15-25 about social media and engagement in participatory politics.
The study results indicate that the widespread enthusiasm of today’s youth in online community activities presents an encouraging opportunity. The skills, networks, and interests they are developing, can be leveraged to build pathways to political engagement. “The Occupy movement, stopping SOPA, and the power of six million users of Change.org [which is the site where youth organized a petition to bring Obama to Chicago after Hadiya Pendleton’s death] are only three of many examples of how new media impact politics in America.”
No longer can the Civil Rights generation say youth don’t care, no longer can they say they don’t know where youth are and they aren’t participating… It is right here in black in white that black youth do care and they are right on the other end of a keyboard. What can be said is that traditional forms of communicating and operating in the ways many non profits have for years, is dead and will not reach the desired audience. It is time to take the battle out of the streets and to the twittersphere.
Why you may ask? Let’s use Twitter as an example. Twitter breaks news. Twitter is where youth are. Twitter is can be the definition of viral. Take World Star videos as an example. 50 thousand views… 50k views is what videos like the Bus Driver hitting the lady and “Ain’t nobody got time for that” receive, not to mention thousands of other videos that portray no positive image of African America. Imagine those 50k views on a positive idea or your message from your nonprofit? That could create change, and isn’t that the goal?
As a community of nonprofits we must stop complaining and get with the new way of operating and take out message to those who we most desire and get social.