Trauma and What I’ve Made of Isaiah Hickman’s Emoblackthot

Do we care about Trauma, today?

In 2013, I was deeply traumatized by an experience at a PWI culminating in the creation of my record, the first time I’d ever been in handcuffs and the development of my more serious contest with Adult depression. The memory of my paralysis before the prison hue of orange and the overwhelming terror of midnight suffocation are not things I can easily escape some six years later.

So, when I say Emoblackthot’s story of trauma and deception is not entirely what the first reaction would impress upon us. According to Isaiah Hickman’s testimony of experience and pain, he has endured something of a significant trauma both on his own Blackness and his own sexual agency, admitting to have survived a sexual assault earlier in his new adulthood.

Culminating with the habit of mistrust and suspicion, an account that was originally started to act in a sense of healing was born. In truth, nothing about this singular act is problematic. While many perceive a sense of entitlement within social media and creatives who employ it for branding’s identity, time and energy, they are not and it’s factually insensitive to assume you can have access to someone’s entire being, particularly if their own mental health is at stake.

A lesson that I have had to follow ever since my own battle with suicidal ideation and depression caused by a tic-for-tact on the very same app that Emoblackthot branded for his own wellbeing and health. In honesty, I was confused by where Hickman could’ve seen that he’d be in trouble for revealing himself, at first. On some level, I grew suspicious that he was suffering from the same sense of entitlement and access that I had been had one point: a guilt for not giving 100% of my all to people who’ve I’ve never met in my life.

I know too well that mistakes I’ve made personally because I was not, could not process the realities that my race almost destroyed me, and that someone else preyed after my being through the tight river of our relationship and trust. It fucks up your ability to ever want to be seen again. Today, despite my own publicness and outward energy as a middling writer and a larger than myself medium of my craft, I still hate the idea that I can be seen, read, consumed by anyone and everyone.

I’m terrified. I can’t stand it.

However, when we dig deeper into Hickman’s story and history as Emoblackthot/Madblackthot, we uncover a truth of the matter that I overlooked.

There was a time when Hickman envisioned himself as a Black woman not just in pronoun use, but in personality and lived experiences.

Blackness as a culture is obsessed with Authenticity. Who can do what, who has lived what, and how that has realistically informed whom and what they are. This ism ostly because Blackness is a form of Ethnostate in America — and without a language, Blackness has to identify itself in specific qualifiers, motions and ways of life.

One could easily make the argument that gender identity, being the lucid thing we want it to be on social media, shouldn’t matter in this situation; after all, I personally did not see emoblackthot as anything outside of the they/them pronouns I could deliver (thought, I DID envision Black femme-hood in some way).

But, that’s not the case here. There was no intent for Isaiah Hickman to have believed his reflection of being a Black woman. There are even dangerous cases of Hickman himself soft blocking individuals for outing Isaiah’s lived Black male-ness. And in that lies what Isaiah should feel some form of shame for and uphold a level of accountability.

Black women are allowed to feel whatever they feel on the personal journey to their identies being infringe and stolen by a culture that will do anything, but respect them. When we’re discussing the culture of Blackness that is being robbed in mainstream media, we are discussing the actual way Black womanism and feminities’ birth rights and creations are robbed from the proverbial cradle.

The accounts who are revealing stories of opening up to Isaiah Hickman’s emoblackthot are honestly shattering; particularly, because Isaiah Hickman himself seems to have internalized the reality of what he has done in his trauma

And there lies the thing that many aren’t investigating within Hickman: the trauma of it all. The reality that, perhaps, Hickman’s actions were not an intent to mock Black women, but a mad rush to invisibility. If in truth Isaiah has done what he has done not in honest realization that he was emulating an experience, rather than rejecting a reality that was in some way dangerous to a clean slate of healing, is he wrong?

Yes.

He is.

However, our thinking around what is authentic here is wrong. A lack of acknowledgement of the intent behind his actions is wrong. Accountability requires us to chastise accordingly to what we are looking at, the nuance of the thing, so that we find the heart of the matter at our feets. In this, we are not providing proper accountability if we do not actualize everything we as a community and culture have stated about the grand crime of trauma.

If we believe that there is error and flaw in the act of pain, that Black men are routinely subject to a specific set of standards and pigeonholing and the internalization of this creates a wrongness which expels itself in a variety of ways, then what are we to make of the ways we should be holding Isaiah Hickman accountable for his actions.

We do not make this arguments to uphold a praxis — that checkboxes are the entirety of the thing we are criticizing, not the spectrum of the problem and where the person stands on that spectrum. We uphold that we look at people completely and wholefully, because there is a portion of this problem that is easily repeatable, unless we express our anger without lying or denying the things we are really looking at.

And none of this is really about protecting someone because I empathize with them, or because of their clout on social media, or because I am a writer — in truth, this is about caring about the thing I feel we should be looking at ALSO.

Or not. I could be wrong.

#THECRAFT: 6 Things Artists Need to Know About Social Media

By: Steven Underwood

What’s Güd?

A lot of you guys have been asking me for advice on this pro-art thing so I decided why not turn this into a series?

Today, we will be covering social media in this steadily rising landscape. All artists know that exposure is important, but how to use it is kind of a hit-or-miss. What’s SEO? Are metrics important? Should I have a high follower count?

Read sweet babies. Let me guide you.

  1. Twitter vs. Instagram: social media platforms are as diverse as they are specific in execution. The main question artists ask is what they should be on? Maybe you know you should be on social media, but you’ve heard conflicting success stories about both. Essentially, it’s important to look at these mediums for what they prioritize. Writers have gained a lot of success on Twitter due to its idea and written based format; careers are literally defined based on how successful your thoughts are and that’s why it’s so important to apply this to your work. Instagram is far more visual. Just think about it, we’ve all heard the term IG model before, not Twitter Model. Brands and clients pay more attention to what they can see on a platform designed to make what you see better! Graphic designers should pay special heed to this, but not too much. Twitter has a need for Design as a form of meme generation and gif processing. I hear the older folk asking “What about Facebook?” Eh… Facebook as a brand is good for getting news out, or posting updates, but you can get better reach with these other two. It has a use, but as a support to these other two formats.
  2. Network Groups: Networking is 80% of the job. If you don’t know anyone, you won’t get far– no matter your talent. In writing, this means you should be hunting for the DM group chat on Twitter and doing whatever you can to stand out and participate. This includes online Forums and FB groups. Keep your name in their mouthes and betaread! Giving criticism and doing reviews for other writers will not only get your name out, but that translates into more Social Media advocacy. Followers are closely watched by publications. They matter! What matters more is if your posts are being shared by others who might have a larger network than you, or if you’re interacting with someone who has a better standing socially. This doesn’t mean be fake, or lie about what you review, but authentically these people share the same passion you do. The rest is simple to iron out. Visual Artists on IG should go to Meet-Ups, and frequent groupchats as well. Also, don’t be afraid to spam!
  3. Metrics/Avoid Purchasing Followers: This is a big one, and it isn’t top priority because now most people know its bad. Essentially, your follower count is only as good as a Thesis statement in an essay: it’s vital, but not as good as your body paragraph. Metrics are fat superior. For Example, my twitter account @Blaqueword, boasts a pretty 1k in followers, pretty average. However, my impressions range into the 40,000s. How? My followers are frequent and avid users and my tweets “go in”. Basically, more of my followers interact and share my content AND they have a larger follower count than me (boasting 100 active followers with a blue check mark works out soooo well). As long as I use this, my posts and shares will always guarantee me an upward trajectory! However, purchasing followers works out worse for you. If your followers are all not interacting, clients/brands will notice and hold it against you. It makes you a creative catfish. Sure, they should be interested in you because they like your work, but that’s not a good bottomline. They want someone who can guarantee sells or interest. You just don’t. Organically generating followers always works out.
  4. Scheduled Posts: This is probably the most difficult feat. Staying on top of your social media is important and draining. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough hours in a day. Well, not postinf frequently enough in one day can drastically harm your impressions and therefore your metrics. If every 10,000 impressions gets you 2 followers and they afford you 300 bonus impressions with whether they like/share your posts, you miss out on a lot of potential reach. But, being online limits how much art you actually get to do. Ergo, scheduling. For @Blaqueword, I use Hootsuite. It allows me to not only schedule posts, but knowing my analytics, I can better understand what I should be posting about via knowing my audience. CMS (Content Management Systems) is an important factor in all of this. Know your tools of your craft (or pay someone else to).
  5. Analytics: SMM or Social Media Marketing is all about knowing what your numbers are. This is categorized in so much. For instance, my IG: @Blaqueword holds a humble amount of followers. However, I can increase my range of likes and follows by applying posts at the time specific audience members interact. Most of my followers are from Columbus, OH and like Culturally mindful content on Fridays at 9 PM. So, I post those things at the exact time AND include hashtags to appeal to those groups! Starting off, this is difficult and requires a lot of base-setting. You’ll end up using random hashtags just to see which stick and which do not, but it is a necessary step, so if you’re self-concious about a step, feel free to delete and try again. After all, if you failed that means no one saw, right? (Wrong, god and Beyoncé saw, but they forgive you)
  6. Hire a Writer: Not a self-plug, though I do run several Social Media accounts for brands at a retainer fee. You need to know your medium well enough to pull this off and most of it involves proper writing technique. Writers thrive on social media because we can coordinate our thoughts for the platforms. If you can’t, it’s going to take a lot of footwork to get Followers to fall in. And, honestly, that means you’re depending solely on luck. Don’t do that. If you are incapable of reading trends and knowing what to say at the moment, you probably won’t get a tweet that sticks like grits. Take it from me, a man with 7 viral tweets under his belt, knowing when to say the right combination of words is key!

If this all sounds very business-like, welcome to Art: it’s 60% business. You just got to know how to play it to your advantage. If

Any more questions? Comment! I’m happy to answer.

Steven Underwood (@Blaqueword) is a writer from Columbus, Ohio, where he reigns supreme as the original Urban Bohemian. He received his Bachelor’s in English: Creative Writing and now wanders fiction shelves employing his academic powers to investigate where it says exactly that Black kids can’t be wizards.