André Brock Jr. - Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures
From BlackPlanet to #BlackGirlMagic, “Distributed Blackness” places blackness at the very center of internet culture. André Brock Jr. claims issues of race and ethnicity as inextricable from and formative of contemporary digital culture in the United States. He analyzes a host of platforms and practices (from Black Twitter to Instagram, YouTube, and app development) to trace how digital media have reconfigured the meanings and performances of African American identity. Brock moves beyond widely circulated deficit models of respectability, bringing together discourse analysis with a close reading of technological interfaces to develop nuanced arguments about how “blackness” gets worked out in various technological domains.
As Brock demonstrates, there’s nothing niche or subcultural about expressions of blackness on social media: internet use and practice now set the terms for what constitutes normative participation. Drawing on critical race theory, linguistics, rhetoric, information studies, and science and technology studies, Brock tabs between black-dominated technologies, websites, and social media to build a set of black beliefs about technology. In explaining black relationships with and alongside technology, Brock centers the unique joy and sense of community in being black online now.
André Brock, Jr. is Associate Professor of Black Digital Studies at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Paperback, published in 2020, 288 pages.
1. Distributing Blackness: Ayo Technology! Texts, Identieies, and Blackness
2. Information Inspirations: The Web Browser as Racial Technology
3. “The Black Purposes of Space Travel”: Black Twitter as Black Technoculture
4. Black Online discourse, Part 1: Ratchetry and Racism
5. Black Online Discourse, Part 2: Respectability
6. Making a Way out of No Way: Black Cyberculture and the Black Technocultural Matrix
About the Author
“In the early days of the internet1200, much consternation was expressed over the digital divide, the conviction that low-income people, especially African Americans, were missing out on the tech revolution. This concern was rooted in a view of African Americans as uninformed, inert vessels needing to be filled with “authoritative” information. Brock provides a bracing corrective to this limited perception, noting the creative, even transgressive uses African Americans make of the web and social media as opposed to the “productive” usages urged by white technocrats … He questions the claim that internet browsers and search tools are color-blind, pointing out that neither search results nor marketing patterns are race neutral … It is on Black Twitter that significant community conversations and information-sharing now take place, amplifying Black political power (think #BlackLivesMatter) but also facilitating cultural conversations and connections … enlightening.” (STARRED Booklist)