On Tuesday, August 8, Montgomery Police Department held a press conference explaining how the now-world-famous "Riverfront Brawl” went down on Saturday, August 5. First, there was a riverboat, the Harriott. It was blocked from docking by a pontoon boat. The co-captain of the riverboat spent 45 minutes ordering, on a PA system, the boat to move. But the people in the docked boat, who happened to be white, ignored the order. Eventually, the riverboat's co-captain, who happened to be Black, and who is also a government employee (the Harriott is owned by the city of Montgomery), "boarded a smaller vessel and went to the dock [to get the white people to move] their boat." As he explained the situation (pointing to their boat and then to the waiting riverboat, which had over 200 passengers), a white man from the pontoon threw a punch at the co-captain. And then the most amazing thing happened.

The Black co-captain (who many on Twitter thought was a security guard) regained his footing, turned his cap backward, and then tossed it into the air with history-making flair. At that point, his attacker should have known that he started something that was not going to end well. But, no, he threw another punch, and another, and after a scuffle that showed no clear winner, the Black co-captain got jumped by other white men.

Moments later, another amazing thing happened: A Black teen lept from the riverboat and powerfully swam to the dock, swiftly climbed onto it, and, with other arriving Black men, turned the tables on the white men. They retreated. But there was no going back at this point. First blood was drawn. And this was not any old blood. This was Montgomery, Alabama blood. In the words of Bob Marley: "Every time I hear the crack of a whip, my blood runs cold."

When the riverboat docked, more Black people poured into what has to be the most-watched brawl of this century. And there's more. Another amazing thing happened: A Black man began hitting white people with a white folding chair.

The following day, August 6, the World Wide Web witnessed the return of a social media force that many thought Elon Musk's X had demolished: Black Twitter.


Black Twitter going there and there and everywhere:

And there's this animation masterpiece:

And this masterpiece of commentary:

And Black Twitter was, always, inclusive. If you're white and got something good to say, say it:

(She is Mama Tot, and Black Twitter loves her—the impeccable Alabama drawl while eating fried chicken and coleslaw in a car.)

As if this were not enough, Black and white people got together for a reenactment of the brawl—on Sunday!

For two days, August 6 and August 7, Black Twitter dominated Elon Musk's X. And this was impressive because the latter has made it very difficult for Black people to use the platform. The white South African billionaire has handed the site to white supremacists in the name of free speech. And this resulted in what Washington Post's Elizabeth Dwoskin calls a "digital diaspora." Black Twitter, which became a thing not long after Twitter opened for business in 2006 ("in 2010... Black people made up a quarter of Twitter users — roughly twice their share in the general population"), is now looking for a new and comparable home. But the present offerings (Bluesky, Mastodon, Threads, and even the Black-owned Spill) just don't have the right ingredients. They also do not have the kind of institutional (both cultural and political) memory that Black users accumulated on Twitter. Black Lives Matter was born on Twitter.

But what many white Americans fail to recognize is the inventiveness of Black America culture: in music, dance, style, and in written and spoken language. (One only has to think of the touchdown celebration.) And this inventiveness fully entered the internet on Twitter.

Elizabeth Dwoskin:

Black Twitter popularized any number of cultural memes, as well as slang phrases like “on fleek” (perfectly done or exactly right) and “Bye, Felicia,” a line from “Friday,” the 1995 Ice Cube film, “often used online as a dismissive farewell,” according to the website KnowYourMeme.com.       

You get none of this cultural richness and joy from the incels, white supremacists, and right-wing haters of the Barbie movie. Their sense of humor is just joyless. Also, they are wholly incapable of laughing at themselves. Musk takes himself seriously. So do his followers, and the followers of Jordan Peterson. They can only laugh at others. And so a major generator of new forms of American culture might be completely wasted by a humor-challenged white South African. Nothing of any cultural value has come from the lot he supports or those who pay for his blue checkmark. 

Let's end with this headline: "3 white men in pontoon boat charged in Montgomery brawl; Black man with chair sought for questioning."