My Story: I Was Raised By My Mom And By Twitter
Yasmine feels free to express herself on Twitter, where she found a path to her self-awareness as a black woman.
To me, social media, especially Twitter, were always a safe space. I have been using Twitter since I’m eleven or twelve, and it is safe to say that without Twitter, I would not be so open-minded.
When I was a teenager, I was an introvert young girl, my mind filled with ideas and things I needed to say, but my shyness would not let me. In my family and within my group of friends, I always felt like a fish swimming against the stream, a misfit. There was a gap between the way I felt and the way people saw me. That’s why I never felt like I was being myself, unconditionally, in my environment.
Twitter was like my own small parallel world, where I could express myself freely about anything and anyone without any other limit than the 140 characters one. I didn’t have to justify myself, because no one was following me in real life.
Growing up, I began to grasp the labels that society was attaching to me: I was a woman, I was black, I was Muslim, I was raised by a single mom and living in a "sensitive" area. During my childhood, I didn’t understand that being black was being different. I thought I would just grow up and fulfill my dreams. While I just wanted to be myself, Yasmine, I understood that I had to fight for that.
#BlackLivesMatter Was A Breakthrough
One of the many things that led me to my breakthrough was the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the United States, which appeared on Twitter in 2013. I could feel these people’s hunger, their pain, and their thirst for justice. I felt absolutely everything in this movement because even though being black in the US is a different experience than in Europe, there are many similarities and we all wish for the same thing: that our lives matter just as much as white people's life.
This hashtag marked the beginning of a new era of social awareness in my mind and also gave birth to many more like #BlackGirlsMagic or #BlackExcellence which gave my self-confidence a boost and helped me love my black skin, my kinky hair, and my features. Because unfortunately, mass media had the opposite effect on me.
Twitter made my education on many subjects like feminism or the need for LGBTQ+ rights, and I realized that intersectionality among the battles was essential to move forward together. I also realized thanks to #MeToo and the French equivalent #BalanceTonPorc (literally "Out your pig") that we are living in a society where the rape culture is trivialized and this needs to change.
The list of hashtags that opened doors in my mind could go on and on. So yes, simple hashtags can lead to true revolutions, whether personal, social or political. And that is the proof no battle is small. Reading about people’s real experiences on Twitter really gave me some kind of a third eye, helping me to grow as a person and to have a better idea of who I am. Each self-consciousness needs to be acknowledged as one and can only be by another consciousness, according to Hegel, the philosopher.
I’m quite aware of social media’s toxicity. I often find myself deactivating my accounts for a while as being exposed to a constant flow of information from all over the world can be hard to handle. Especially for someone with as much empathy as I have. On Twitter, we often feel that everything is going wrong, but that is not true, quite the opposite in fact. Find your own balance to use them in a more gratifying way, not a toxic one, keeping in mind to inform yourself otherwise, since a tweet is not a reliable source.
I think Twitter has been a refuge for all the oppressed voices which deserve more than any other to be heard but have nowhere else to express themselves. To me, Twitter really has been a window to the outside world, and I’m very grateful. Where else would I have learned about all this, except on Twitter? #StayWoke.
Yasmine, 21, dancer in Chanteloup-les-Vignes
This story was written during one of the workshops held by the ZEP (Expression Priority Zone) in France, a media project which allows young French people aged 15 to 25 years old to share their everyday lives and their opinions on the news which impacts them.
By La Zep, published on 07/12/2018