The New Internet Commons: READER on Black Twitter - effects of web 2.0 on blackness


“It seems that one has to be always already “free from the will of others” (or think that one is) in order to mutate into the fusion of heterogeneous agents comprising the posthuman state of being, thereby excluding all cultural and political formations in which the history of subjectivity is necessarily yoked to the will—and/or the whips and chains—of others. Certainly, New World black subjects cannot inhabit this version of self-hood in quite the same manner as the “white boys” of Hayles’s canon due to slavery, colonialism, racism, and segregation, since these forces render the very idea that one could be “free from the will of others” null and Void.”-Feenin’ Posthuman Voices in Black Popular Music

“Much more than straightforward science fiction, however, the epistemes that accompany these identities reflect an oppositionality and an historical critique that seeks to undermine the logic of linear progress that buttresses Western universalism, rationalism, empiricism, logocentrism, and their standard-bearer: white supremacy.” -The “Robot Voodoo Power” Thesis: Afrofuturism and Anti-Anti-Essentialism from Sun Ra to Kool Keith

“In cyberspace, it is finally possible to completely and utterly disappear people of color. I have long suspected that the much vaunted “freedom” to shed the “limiting” markers of race and gender on the Internet is illusory, and that in fact it masks a more disturbing phenomenon—the whitinizing of cyberspace. Ironically, African-American critical theory provides very sophisticated tools for the analysis of cyberculture, since African-American critics have been discussing the problem of multiple identities, fragmented personae, and liminality for more than 100 years.” — Kali Tal WIRED (1996)

Cassandra Press hosts a discussion around one of their newest publications, The READER on Black Twitter, tackling the underanalyzed intersection of blackness, online community & identity, and the inherent racism of app culture. Theorists, writers, activists and artists all weigh in, with lectures and discussions by Mandy Harris Williams and Devin Kenny, moderated by Cassandra founder Kandis Williams.

Mandy Harris Williams is a theorist, multimedia conceptual artist, writer, educator, and internet/community academic. She is from New York and is currently living in Los Angeles. Mandy’s work seeks to get everybody the love that they deserve. A graduate of Harvard, having studied the History of the African Diaspora, as well as the mass incarceration crisis, and other contemporary black issues, she received her MA in Urban Education and worked as a classroom teacher for 7 years. She integrates a holistic didactic style in to her current creative practice. Her creative work has been presented at Paula Cooper Gallery, Navel Gallery, Knockdown Center and Women’s Center for Creative Work, to name a few. She has contributed writing work to Dazed Magazine, MEL magazine, ForHarriet, and The Grio and is a frequent radio and podcast guest. Follow her at @idealblackfemale on Instagram.

Devin Kenny uses music, performance, video, writing, fashion design, and almost any other means possible to explore and complicate ideas on contemporary culture. Kenny’s work often exists online, as websites, blogs, video posts, and audio files. Employing the tropes of social media–driven youth culture to reach a base audience, the work is free to convey broad ideas while subversively inserting political and philosophical theory. There is a hyperawareness in Kenny’s work that belies his sincerity in making it, an ironic stance that separates what he makes from the pop culture that it mimics. Kenny uses the Internet as source material and venue, consuming and processing cultural production to reveal it anew to his audience.

Kandis Williams is an LA-based artist from Baltimore with an active curatorial and writing practice. In 2016, she founded Cassandra Press with Taylor Doran and Jordan Nassar; producing collaborative artist books and editions. Williams received a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union School of Art, New York.

The New Internet Commons

An ongoing series of events which aims to understand the state of the world wide web today in contrast with the early unravelings of its utopian vision.