1. The Evisceration of Paula Deen
When allegations that Paula Deen used the n-word and wanted to have black men dress as slaves at a wedding, #BlackTwitter let its opinion be known with a series of absolutely hilarious hashtags, the biggest of which was #PaulasBestDishes, started by @jeffuhz with this tweet. The three biggest Paula Deen related hashtags, #PaulasBestDishes, #PaulaDeenTVShows, and #PaulaDeenApologyBingo garnered a whopping 187,000 tweets total.
2. The Schooling of Don Lemon
Don Lemon became the new face of black respectability politics in 2013, and the internet had plenty to say about his championing the position. The hilarious and popular hashtags #DonLemonShowTitles, #DonLemonLogic, and #DonLemonLooksLike (inspired by the spiffy haircut pictured above) garnered more than 13,000 tweets.
3. The Onion Apologizes
The internet nearly collapsed under its own weight on the night of the Oscars, when the satirical website The Onion referred to then 9-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis as a “c*nt” in a tweet during the show. Online outrage was swift and severe enough to move The Onion to apologize, which nearly never happens.
4. Miley Cyrus: Twerkgate 2013
Miley Cyrus’ half dressed, gyrating performance at the MTV Video Music Awards sparked an exhaustive but important and often wildly entertaining conversation about twerking, double standards, and cultural appropriation across Twitter that is still going on today. #BlackTwitter lashed out satirically with hashtags like #ThanksMiley, started when the media credited her with inspiring Beyoncé’s pixie cut, and #ABCReports, which lampooned ABC’s “scientific” investigation into twerking. Those two hashtags alone spawned over 156,000 tweets this year.
6. RIP Racism!
Racism is over! Did you get the memo? Neither did the people of Twitter, who were very surprised to hear of its demise. The above tweet sparked the trending topic #RacismEndedWhen, created by @FeministaJones. The hashtag was tweeted 38,000 times, and included some completely hilarious tweets and pictures.
7. BuzzFeed Goes Black
When BuzzFeed’s hiring of sports writer Joel Anderson got Twitter talking about the increase in black staffers, #BlackBuzzFeed was born. The first tweets were sent by
<a href="https://twitter.com/desusnice">desusnice</a> and frazierapproves, and some 50,000 tweets later, the rest is hilarious history.
8. White History Classes
It happens like clockwork. Every February, someone asks why there isn’t a white history month. This year, Black Twitter painted a picture of what such a month would look like with the trending topic #WhiteHistoryClasses, coming up with a 28,000 tweet curriculum.
9. Solidarity is for White Women
When controversial “feminist” Hugo Schwyzer had a very public meltdown on Twitter, a byproduct was a hugely important conversation on prejudice and privilege within the world of feminism, tagged with #solidarityisforwhitewomen. Started by writer Mikki Kendall, the conversation was sparked by what many black women felt was the dismissing of their issues by white women coming to Schwyzer’s defense. 87,000 tweets were sent within the trending topic.
When Fast Company published its list of the 25 smartest women on Twitter, something jumped out and smacked some readers in the face: “not one black woman.” Understandably feeling some type of way, Black Twitter compiled its own list of smart women of color to the tune of nearly 14,000 tweets. Fast Company eventually amended its initial list to add a bit more flavor.
11. All Black People Look Alike to Armani
The above picture of Alfre Woodward was posted to Armani’s Instagram account, initially with the caption: “Idris Elba posing in a gorgeous Giorgio Armani dress at the 5th annual Governors Awards.” They eventually corrected the caption, but not until Twitter got wind of it and sent over 14,000 tweets lampooning the slip up with the hashtag #ArmaniCaptions.
12. Kanye’s “New Slaves” Takes Over Twitter
Kanye West released the video for his single “New Slaves” in the most Kanye way possible — projected onto the sides of 66 buildings worldwide. It was a pretty genius move that definitely got people talking, considering the premier generated an astounding 500,000 tweets. The album Yeezus has seen a pretty big year on Twitter overall, totaling 4.4 million tweets.
13. Jay-Z’s Surprise Q&A
Those Knowles-Carters sure do like surprising people, huh? Months before his wife surprised the world with a brand new album, Jay-Z surprised Twitter with a random Q&A session in the week following the release of his albumMagna Carta Holy Grail. During the Q&A, in which he responded to about 100 fans, he gained 46,000 new Twitter followers, and two hashtags that he used, #mylaugh and #factsonly, became national trending topics.
14. Terio Kills ‘Em
When Instagram announced that it was adding a video feature, many heralded it as the end of Vine. But a savior emerged in the form of Terio, a cuddly, super turned up dancing phenomenon. Since his first videos, he has popped up in pictures with your favorite celebrities. There have been 1.5 million mentions of Terio on Twitter this year. Kill ‘em!
15. The Passing of Nelson Mandela
When legendary South African president Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95, the internet exploded with messages of grief and gratitude. When the news broke, a total of 7.2 million tweets about his passing were sent, peaking at 95,000 tweets per minute. Twitter also had a big moment when pictures surfaced of President Obama taking a selfie at Mandela’s memorial service.
16. R. Kelly’s Social Media Nightmare
Apparently R. Kelly forgot that not everyone has forgotten about his transgressions. When the embattled singer invited everyone to ask him questions on Twitter, there’s no way he could have expected what he got: scores of questions about the child pornography charges he faced (and was acquitted of) in 2008. Though there were 35,000 tweets tagged with #AskRKelly, he answered very few of them. Perhaps the harshest burn of all:
17. TMZ Tries to Kill Lil Wayne
TMZ had all but posted Lil Wayne’s time of death back in March, when they made multiple reports that the rapper was on his death bed, being read his last rites, and heading towards the stairway to heaven. Lil Wayne soon tweeted to all his concerned fans that he was fine, but not before the hashtags #PrayForLilWayne, #PrayForWayne, and #PrayForWeezie trended, totaling 101,000 tweets.
18. The World Meets North West
19. The Zimmerman Trial and Juror B37
The murder trial of George Zimmerman, charged with killing unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, captivated the attention of people worldwide. Many watched in horror as Zimmerman was acquitted of any wrongdoing, tweeting through feelings of frustration, sorrow, and helplessness. Some decided that they weren’t completely helpless, however, when a juror made plans to profit from the case via a book deal. Spearheaded by Genie Lauren, Twitter users successfully pressed for the dropping of the juror’s book deal.
20. TMZ’s Boston Bombing Fail
During the Boston marathon bombings, TMZ reported one of the suspects “may have been heavy into hip hop,” as if it mattered to anything. Twitter sharpened its satirical swords and took aim with #TMZReports, started by @dopegirlfresh.
This was definitely the year of Beyoncé. Everything she did blew up, from cutting her hair to lip syncing at the presidential inauguration (and subsequently holding a press conference to sing the song live and encourage everyone to shut up about it) to performing at the Super Bowl (which generated 5.5 million tweets) to releasing an entire album with 14 new songs and 17 new video in complete secret. When Beyoncé dropped her album, there were 1.2 million tweets in the first 12 hours alone (fun fact: the 5 most tweeted about songs so far are “Blue,” “Mine,” “Drunk In Love”, “Flawless,” and “Partition”). Scientifically, we can estimate that 2013 has seen approximately 19 grillion Beyoncé tweets, and there’s still time for at least a grillion more.