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Lindsey: Subset of Twitter divisive, not uplifting

Craig Lindsey.
Craig Lindsey. jleonard@newsobserver.com

As much as it has become my job to inform you readers of all the in-vogue things that are going on in popular culture, there are times when even I am a bit late to the party.

Case in point: Hotep Twitter.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I found out about this section of Twitter that has as many detractors as followers. It turns out Hotep Twitter has been a thing for a while now. Man, I must be slipping.

In order to fully explain what Hotep Twtter is, I should first give the definition of “hotep,” especially as it pertains to this online faction. It’s an Egyptian word that roughly translates as “to be satisfied, at peace.” According to Wikipedia and UrbanDictionary.com, the word is commonly used as a greeting in Afrocentric circles, as in “peace” or “I come in peace.”

As of late, “hotep” has been used more often to describe a certain type of African-American person. A 2014 piece from online LGBTQ site The Visibility Project described this person as someone who champions “the rights of Black men while simultaneously throwing Black women, Black Trans persons, Black members of the LGBTQ community or anyone else who is not a Black male under the bus.”

Basically, Hoteps are mostly African-American males who claim to be conscious and enlightened. Unfortunately, they are so stuck in their ways, they fail to recognize all the other black folk who aren’t like them. These men also appear to delight in going on Twitter and denigrating those who don’t share their traditionalist ideology, especially women. Hotep Twitter is usually filled with tweets containing photos and memes laying out their ideas of what a black woman should and should not represent. A perfect example of this is a photo of an African-American woman who just graduated from college, degree in hand, with the words “THIS COULD BE YOU BUT YOU TOO BUSY TWERKING” slapped on it in bold, white letters.

I should take a quick moment to point out that Hotep Twitter is not to be confused with Black Twitter, that online community of African-American folks who talk about all things black. In fact, Black Twitter and Hotep Twitter are often at odds with each other, with Black Twitter going out of its way to distance itself from the Hotep crew. In a piece on black news site The Grio, writer Blue Telusma said Hotep Twitter was “borderline dangerous,” doing nothing but inciting “’Willie Lynch’ propaganda that has held us down for eons.”

Of course, Hoteps don’t see themselves that way. In a piece titled “Hotep Twitter Is Not Black Twitter,” blogger Ali “Hannibal X” Shakur lists how much good Hoteps are doing, as opposed to those non-enlightened African-Americans on Black Twitter:

“Black Twitter watches TV. Hoteps read books. Black Twitter prays. Hotep Twitter prays AND meditates. Black Twitter eats fast food. Hoteps consume organic produce and minerals. Black Twitter is in love with the Kardashians. Hoteps are in love with self. Black Twitter drags. Hoteps uplift. Hotep Twitter is fire and Black Twitter is ice. Black Twitter is stagnant like water that grows mold. Hotep Twitter is like a flowing river teaming (sic) with life.”

Truth be told, Hoteps have been around even before they all found each other on social media. Back in my 20s, just out of college and mingling in the poetry scene of my Houston hometown, I remember hanging out with people who fit the Hotep demographic: brothas (and even a few sistas) who were all about uplifting the race, but not really about uplifting everybody in that race.

I don’t consider Hotep Twitter to be dangerous. I look at Hotep Twitter the same way as I looked as those brothas and sistas back then: People who talk a big game, but still have a lot to learn about themselves and African-American culture. But much like everybody else on social media (and that includes some folks on Black Twitter), Hoteps often bring more dissent than discussion. There is a difference between people who say they’re progressive and people who say they’re progressive and actually know what they’re talking about. I hope there are legitimately enlightened people out there who can separate the two.

No wonder I didn’t know much about Hotep Twitter: Whenever I see people talking nonsense on my timeline, I regularly just ignore them. Happy Black History Month!

Reach Craig Lindsey at talkingfurniture@aol.com

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