A Tweet at the Table: Black British Women’s Identity Expression on Social Media
In Black British digital networks an ever-changing, hybridised way of speaking has emerged that synthesises aspects of Black dialects from across the diaspora. This language is used both as part of a performance of self and to signal belonging to a Black group identity, as linguistic choices are a way that online actors are able to curate their narratives of self-representation. Through observation of different digital social spaces, this study will investigate how language is disseminated between geographically and culturally disparate people who self-identify as Black, and how linguistic acts of performative identity that Black British women use contribute to the articulation of a group Black identity through shared language and experience.
Codeswitching, where the same actors may choose to vary how they present themselves within different digital spaces and contexts, is also relevant to these narratives of representation. I will compare discourse within Black feminist Facebook groups, which have solely Black women and nonbinary Black people as members, with a medium like (Black) Twitter where the audience is ethnically mixed, but simultaneously contains a semi-restricted space for Black cultural production. This will allow for an understanding of if and how discourse varies in different contexts with different audience demographics, and how social network services impact how Black users express identity.
Taking a comparative approach by examining discourse on Black Facebook groups and Black Twitter will allow me to consider digital solidarity more broadly, including the circumstances under which it is created and the constraints it faces.