I’m a 23-year-old health food blogger, and I make nutritious cooking videos for my Youtube channel. At first, I did the basics: how to make a tofu scramble, how to make vegan cupcakes, and how to make delicious lean roasted chicken breast. But I decided to branch out into preparing foods from cultures other than my own. Specifically, a healthy take on classic soul food recipes.
And that’s when it happened: Black Twitter came for me.
I chose to start with a crowd favorite: baked mac and cheese. I used fair trade quinoa pasta, and made a vegan “cheese” sauce out of butternut squash and nutritional yeast. I added wild asparagus and hand-picked kale for a little color and topped it off with an Ezekiel bread crumble and a dribble of leek oil.
Within hours, my video went viral. I was thrilled! I was getting thousands of Instagram tags, Facebook likes, and Pinterest saves. “This is the beginning of my career,” I thought.
It turns out, the reason my video had gone viral was because Black Twitter got ahold of it and was fully roasting me and my soul food inspired baked mac and cheese. What was happening? I had no idea what I did wrong.
Was I so horrible to offer a more nutritious option for a food with origins so specifically rooted in a culture by adding fresh and trendy ingredients to it? I didn’t think so, but I guess Black Twitter did because they started sending me nonstop GIFs of Tiffany Pollard holding a knife.
I had no idea the esteem in which baked mac and cheese was held by Black Twitter. There was no escaping the endless gifs and memes, and comments like “Oh, the caucacity” or “Seems about white” or “WYPIPO COME COLLECT YOUR GIRL!” flooded my mentions. It took reading a quoted retweet that said “lmaoooo tf is becky doing disrespecting mac n cheese like that?” for it to sink in fully: My name isn’t even Becky!
It was the winter of my discontent. I stopped showering and replying to text messages. I couldn’t even go to my kombucha brewing workshop, and that’s my happy place. My friends tried to reassure me that it would all pass soon. This one black girl, who I just kind of know from college and we hang out sometimes, even said that it was a rite of passage to be roasted by Black Twitter. That Black Twitter roasts everyone, even celebrities and companies and institutions. But I felt specifically targeted! And I’m still not fully sure what was so laughable about my low-fat, low-salt, quinoa-butternut-squash-asparagus-kale-ezekiel-bread homage to soul food mac and cheese. I just wish Black Twitter knew what it felt like to be specifically targeted and ostracized by an organized and cogent group of powerful voices. Ugh!
Now that I’m recovered and looking back, I have lasting anxiety over how I mix up the recipes I make. But I’ve learned so much from this traumatizing experience. I’m way more cool and accessible now, just by association with Black Twitter. I can add “influencer” to my Twitter bio. At least one person has come up to me on the street and say, “Hey, are you that food blogger who got roasted by Black Twitter?” So I can hold onto that, knowing that I’m better for enduring this personal struggle. And knowing that my recipe is a full 90 calories less than the original – I can still be proud of that.