PAPER: Make the Internet

The internet is Black — I’ve decided it. Al Gore might have invented it, but Black people the world over make it what it is today. Consider every Tiffany Pollard meme, every Nene Leakes reaction gif. Recall each viral Jaboukie tweet and every trending Quen Blackwell video. The voice of the internet is Black and that is not up for debate.

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Stan language, while used by most with a Twitter account, is primarily Black and LGBTQ+. Where would the internet be without AAVE? Without ballroom? We’ve all seen the wider misguided attempts to speak the language — from Katy Perry playing with the word “wig,” to Democrats attempting to “boy bye” Trump out the White House. Still, while vernacular created largely by the Black community has entered pop culture, the faces of the internet’s innovators are most often overlooked. So in honor of Black History month we DM’d five of the brightest Black creators who are quite literally “Making the Internet” to talk memes, fame and owning their own content.

Mike Thornwell

Michael Thornwell on Instagram: “Reposting bc everyone seems to be looking for the original lmao”

Michael Thornwell on Instagram: “High school girls with CEO fathers”

Michael Thornwell on Instagram: “Apple getting ready to press the button which fucks up every iPhone 7 and below next week.”

Michael Thornwell on Instagram: “Y’all asked so I’m bringing this back. (Also desperately trying to drive engagement up so have a field day!)”

@Fakeroberts: How often are you noticed IRL?

@Mikethornwell: Surprisingly enough I actually get noticed somewhat frequently! Even when I lived in Japan there were a few people who recognized my face. I obviously am not yet at the point of being recognized as “Mike Thornwell” but many people can at least recognize that they know my face from some vague memory of a video of a boy in a wig on their timeline.

@Fakerboerts: Lol I love “boy in wig.” What’s one thing you want your followers to know about you?

@Mikethornwell: I want my followers to know that I portray myself as accurately as possible on my socials but at the end of the day social media is a 2D, one-way experience. You can only see so much. Keep in mind that all of us behind these screens are human and we all go through the same shit. No number of followers or perceived success can change the human experience. So please be kind.

@Fakeroberts: Love that. Agree. I simply must ask: that “cotton picking” incident… pls tell me that didn’t actually happen lol.

@Mikethornwell: Chile I wish I could tell you that, but are we really that gagged that a white old woman would have the gall to fix her mouth to say something that outlandish? That’s honestly not even the worst customer service story. Just one of many unfortunately.

@Fakeroberts: Good point. It’s in their nature lol. What’s the greatest meme of all time?

@Mikethornwell: Whew that’s a tough one I honestly feel as though any reaction video or GIF of Nene Leakes or Tiffany Pollard are automatically golden. They are in my mind the goddesses of meme culture.

@Fakeroberts: Last question: with the whole “Renegade” situation are you ever worried about not getting the credit for your work? Like, how protective are you of your own work and image?

@Mikethornwell: The thing about being a Black creator is that you come into this space with an understanding that you will likely not get all the credit that you’re due. You will often have to be more diligent than your white counterparts. You will have to work harder to be seen and accepted. You will probably not receive half the praise white creators do, even with twice the amount of creativity and impact. This is a tale as old as time. There are systems in place that clearly need to be dismantled and rebuilt from scratch in a way that is beneficial to creators across the board. So while I am protective of my image and work, there is no stopping the inevitable. Which is why I’m more focused on getting to the root of these issues and trying to learn how to fix them as I expand my knowledge and influence. For now that mostly means supporting other creators and advocating for companies who genuinely give a fuck about us.

Khadi Don

Khadi Don on Instagram: “How did I do? 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 y’all follow me on Tik Tok: KhadiDon. That dance took me forever 😓🥴”

Khadi Don on Instagram: “McDonald’s be like…. #ImGoingtoChicFila”

Khadi Don on Instagram: “RACIST WHITE PEOPLE BE LIKE….#LieutenantLindsey”

@Fakeroberts: How often are you recognized IRL?

@Khadi: Depending on what area I’m in. Pretty much every day, especially if I’m in cities like Atlanta, Chicago or Detroit.

@Fakeroberts: What’s one thing you want your followers to know about you:

@Khadi: That I have many more talents outside of comedy that I can’t wait to showcase to them.

@Fakeroberts: What’s the best meme of all time?


Anything Spongebob related lol.

@Fakeroberts: LMAO I love demonic Patrick. How does it feel to see yourself as a meme or reaction pic?

@Khadi: It’s hilarious I love it. I remember this went viral for a while:

They used that picture for everything lol.

@Fakeroberts: Lmao I remember that. Why did you start making videos?

@Khadi: I used to get put on punishment and was in my room with only a camera. I got bored and started to experiment lol, which led to me loving it. Once I realized the impact I had and how it could open doors I took it seriously.

@Fakeroberts: Last question: with the whole “Renegade” situation are you ever worried about not getting the credit for your work? Like, how protective are you of your own work and image?

@Khadi: When I was coming up and was super small I would constantly get my work stolen without receiving credit. From as small as Vine to bigger bits on television. I used to worry but today I don’t as much. I take it as a compliment and consider myself the blueprint. I’m super protective but I know at the end of the day nobody can do what I do better than I can.

Denzel Dion

DENZEL DION on Instagram: “me when the government knocks on my door to draft me for world war 3”

DENZEL DION on Instagram: “It’s upsetting me and my homegirl @dolcetelmah”

@Fakeroberts: How often are you noticed IRL?

@Denzeldion: I get recognized a lot IRL. It’s weird because I’ve been on social media for six years now and it still feels like a breath of fresh air.

@Fakeroberts: I can imagine. What’s one thing you want your followers to know about you?

@Denzeldion: What you see online is what you get in person. I’m 100% myself in all my videos and what I post online.

@Fakeroberts: What’s the best meme of all time?

@Denzeldion: In my opinion the best meme of all time, is “and I OOP” just because it’s so universal and I literally used it for every situation that was happening at the time.

@Fakerobers: Agree, she really was the moment. Can you tell us anything about your new show with Rickey?

@Denzeldion: The only thing I can tell you it’s that Rickey and I’s show is going to be FUNNY, ICONIC and just everything that we all need.

@Fakeroberts: PRAISE BE! I can’t wait. What made you start creating videos and content?

@Denzeldion: I honestly just started creating videos based on the curiosity of whether or not I could be as funny as my classmates/ peers portrayed me as.

@Fakeroberts: Amazing. Okay. Last question: Looking at the whole “Renegade” situation how protective are you of your own content and image? Like are you ever worried about not getting credit for your work?

@Denzeldion: I’m very protective of my own content and image — I don’t really worry about not getting credit for my work, but it does happen when creators are often ripped off with no credit and it’s blatantly disrespectful.

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Lynn Spirit

#GirlYouSeeThatGlitter on Instagram: “Took it to church tonight”

#GirlYouSeeThatGlitter on Instagram: “Raw and uncut video This is how I really be Doing my hair it’s a process 👩🏾‍🦲♒️📱
Beauty begins the moment you decided to be yourself.””

@Fakeroberts: How often are you noticed IRL?

@Lynnspirit: Noticed like every day. Not a day goes by that I’m not getting attention somewhere. It gets ridiculous sometimes 😁.

@Fakeroberts: Lol I bet. What’s one thing you want your followers and fans to know about you?

@Lynnspirit: I’m very confident in everything that I do and am facing my fears because there’s something beautiful on the other side of fear. Make no excuses in life; take chances and risks.

@Fakeroberts: That’s beautiful. In your opinion what’s the beat meme of all time?

@Lynnspirit: The best memes of all time are the memes that have me in them! I’m always so shocked to see to myself in memes!

@Fakeroberts: How does it feel to see yourself used as a meme or reaction pic?

@Lynnspirit: It feels so unreal to see myself as a meme! I’m like dang, that’s really me! I always think about how far I have come and how far I’m going! Very blessed.

@Fakeroberts: What made you start making content and videos?

@Lynnspirit: I was making videos as therapy for myself. It helped me get through some tough times in my life!

@Fakeroberts: Do you feel like you completely “own” your image? Are you ever worried about not getting credit for your work?

@Lynnspirit: Yes I completely own my image, I’m not surrounded by people who try to change my image or make me be someone I’m not! I’m very thankful for my team for making sure I’m staying true to myself and genuine! No I don’t worry about gettin credit for my work. We live in a society where people steal people stuff all the time without giving credit!

Kayla “Nicole TV” Jones

Nicole Tv on Instagram: “New upload. Suck my ass. #nicoletv”

Nicole Tv on Instagram: “New upload on my channel. #nicoletv”

Nicole Tv on Instagram: “This what y’all came looking for 🥺”

@Fakeroberts: How often are you recognized IRL?

@Kaylanicolejones: Very often. People know my face, my body build & even my voice more than my multiple confusing names.

@Fakeroberts: What do you want your followers to know about you?

@Kaylanicolejones: Nothing I’m not already telling them. I just want them to live with me… live within me. What I put out is like them being me or them being with me. They’re apart of whatever process I began and they’re included in every story.

@Fakeroberts: Why did you start making what you make?

@Kaylanicolejones: Multiple reasons for each creation with the same aspirations.

@Fakeroberts: What’s the greatest meme of all time?

@Kaylanicolejones: Me. The catfish skit that went viral with Deshae and I.

@Fakeroberts: With the whole “Renegade” situation, how protective are you over your content? Is it even possible to really own your image/work online?

@Kaylanicolejones: Very. I had a guy remake my song and take the name and dance like TF? Totally trademarked “Move Like a Snake” right after and a lot of bigger companies and commercials try to run off with it, so I handle them too. Nothing on paper gets passed me.

Photos via Instagram

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