#BBQBecky & #PermitPatty: African-American Humor & Resistive Discourse on Twitter

Eric Dunning


Humor has always been a social tool by which to navigate the slings and arrows of human existence. This has been exceptionally true for historically marginalized groups, such as African-Americans. Throughout U.S. history, “Black humor” has served to challenge authority, resist domination, lampoon the powerful and assuage injustices. It has served and both balm and weapon for a cultural group that has often found itself on the outside looking in, while being punished for being in that position. However, even within marginalized groups, canonical examples of cultural humor have been largely produced by a small segment of the population (i.e.,comedians, writers, poets, musicians). Social media, Twitter especially, has removed the barriers of production and gatekeeping of humor. Therefore, by examining responses to a cultural moment by “non-elite” African-Americans on Twitter, as the this paper does, helps to elucidate some evident trends, narratives, rhetorical strategies and tropes that may possibly be considered universal hallmarks of “Black Humor” as resistive discourse. Furthermore, these hallmarks can perhaps be understood to be the preeminent forms by which African-Americans create community, resist oppression and challenge hegemonic norms.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/sll.v4n2p33


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