Vine gave black users a voice without creative restraint


Black Vine stars altered the way the world sees and speaks.

They created iconic videos, changed our language, influenced advertising campaigns and much more.

The volume of creativity itself became something of an icon, but that volume was shut off on Thursday as Twitter announced the end of the short-form video app.

But it’s not enough to mourn Vine’s end without paying tribute to the black stars that turned it into an "art form."

.@vine was a cornucopia of black creativity. Some of these kids could tell better stories in 6 seconds than most full length movies.

— Emmanuel Quartey (@equartey) October 27, 2016

Black people elevated Vine to a gotdamn art form and now it’s gone.

— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) October 27, 2016

This is probably obvious to many black Vine users who consider themselves a part of that community, but how many outside of that niche know where "on fleek" came from?

That Vine has 48 million loops as of this writing. The one below has 70 million loops. You’ve probably heard of it.

In 2015, Hannah Giorgis wrote in an article for The Guardian that "black users utilize Vine in hilarious, multi-faceted, complex and game-changing ways," and were able to influence conversations far beyond Vine because those videos were easily shared on other social media.

"Black Viners have birthed countless memes and accompanying sociolinguistic phenomena," she wrote.

The three examples she listed off the bat included "or nah."

"Hoe don’t do it."

And "do it for the Vine."

Now that Vine-to-lexicon pipeline is gone.

as soon as POCs find a way to make some shit work for them, it gets taken away. its so fucked up.

— TrickorTracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) October 27, 2016

this is a blow for creatives of color. im really, really hurt and upset.

— TrickorTracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) October 27, 2016

Which is not to say Vine’s relationship with its black users was at all perfect.

Writing in The Fader in December of last year, Doreen St. Felix laid out how black teenagers used Vine to birth some of the most popular elements of the internet and American culture in general, yet often received little benefit.

Kayla Newman, the Vine star behind "on fleek," told St. Felix she hadn’t "gotten any endorsements or received any payment," for introducing a phrase that has, as St. Felix’s article says, rolled off the tongue of the likes of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and been used in ads for IHOP.

@brokeymcpoverty chewbacca mom kids got scholarships but "on fleek" shorty gave a word to English lexicon & ain’t even get a free threading

— rob (@RobCaveJr) October 27, 2016

Yet Vine was still an outlet free from many of the constraints that black Americans so often face while seeking an audience for their creativity.

ppl love blk culture but they dont like to pay blk ppl for it (hi, appropriation). vine wasnt perf but it was a way to try & get around it

— TrickorTracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) October 27, 2016

white vine stars were still more likely than POCs to see financial/career success so it wasnt perfect but damn it was a chance. some got it.

— TrickorTracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) October 27, 2016