As promised, I wrote a brief post discussing why after five years I decided to retire the handle @TheBlackVoice.
Around the fall of 2009, something woke up inside of me. On the brink of completing my undergraduate career, I no longer could use the identity of a student as a shield from finding myself. I had no clue who I was or who I wanted to be. I was forced into a journey of self-discovery with no clear vision or idea of what I would find. Early into this journey, I discovered my deep passion for what is happening to my people. I was curious about how we came to such a condition, and what could be done to change it.
While on this search for knowledge, I needed a way to filter out my thoughts. What better place to filter out random thoughts than Twitter? I already had a personal account, which I used to bullshit with my friends, but I needed a space where I could post my thoughts without being judged by people who knew me personally. When you’re going through a radical change, people who know you aren’t always open to that change. Also sometimes you want to keep your evolution under wraps until you feel comfortable to present it to the world.
So I decided to create another Twitter page where I could post my thoughts that specifically centered on my growth in consciousness. I had zero expectations for the page, as I just needed a space to express. I made up a generic name, Google searched an image of a Black power fist for an avi, followed a few hundred random Black folk, and @TheBlackVoice was born.
I never expected the page to take off in the manner that it did. It went from just a few hundred followers, to a thousand, and never stopped growing from there. I had no clue that in five years, over 40K people would see what this country boy had to say. I kept the page anonymous for quite some time. I didn’t even post a picture of myself until about three years after creating the page. Again, my intentions for the page were solely to express my thoughts, not so much for others, but for myself. I still try to maintain some standard of privacy now, mainly due to safety reasons that come with having high visibility.
Over the years people have watched me grow from a problematic misogynistic hotepian to an intersectional thinking revolutionary-minded organizer (I’m still problematic though). I’ve made great connections with hundreds of organizers, scholars, and just genuine beautiful people from around the globe. Despite the trolls and unsolicited hate from random individuals, Twitter has given me a sense of community with people who see the world similar to how I see it.
So why the name change? Well I am believer that there is power in names. When I chose the handle “TheBlackVoice” there was no significant meaning behind it for me. Honestly it was the first handle that popped up in my mind when I thought about what perspective I would mostly be tweeting from. I put forth no effort in choosing the handle because I never expected to the page to be attached to me personally. Five years later, my personal identity is now inseparable from the page. Due to my relationship with the page, I felt that it was time to create a handle that has personal meaning and that is more representative of who I am as a person.
Sankofa means, “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.” As the descendant of enslaved Afrikans, sankofa defines my existence today in this strange land. Colonization and the dehumanization of chattel enslavement sought to erase everything that defined my ancestors as human. As a Pan-Afrikanist, I am constantly looking back in history to find what was taken from me and using that knowledge to help push my people and myself forward. This is why I chose sankofa.
Brown is my last name. I chose to attach my last name to my handle, as there is a special duality in doing so. On one side, Brown is the name of my ancestor’s enslaver in the same region where I grew up in Southeastern North Carolina. Part of keeping the name is to make sure that I never forget what my ancestors went through. On the other side, there is the pride I have for my own family, who despite all that we have had to face, have continued to live, love, and grow.
The changing of my handle is not a beginning of a new journey, but rather a continuation and evolution of one already in progress. It is my hope and prayer that I continue to have the support of the people as I grow in knowledge and truth. Much love and light. Stay Woke.