The Faces of Black Twitter: Meet Tatiana King-Jones
Tatiana King-Jones photographed by Shayan Asgharnia for Okayplayer
Name: Tatiana King-Jones
Twitter Handle: @TatianaKing
When one thinks of the future, images that come to mind include flying cars, teleporters and a white man putting a flag down on some foreign planet. Yet, as we’re being made to see more clearly everyday, innovation comes in many different shades and colors. At the forefront of the tech, comic and otaku game is a force of awesomeness within the podcasting world. Known in cool kid circles as the “Grand Duchess of Tech,” Tatiana King-Jones is a thought leader, a frequent guest speaker and an opinionated voice in #BlackTwitter circles. As an incredible source for all things blerd-y, Tatiana leverages her social net worth to share information on a variety of topics. An early adopter of social media services (Ex: joined Twitter in 2008), Tatiana’s passion for emerging technologies, science-fiction, video games, movies and consumer electronics are well accounted for on her daily timeline.
“I have always had a love-hate relationship with the term,” Mrs. King-Jones told us when discussing what #BlackTwitter means to her. “On one hand it is full of positive connotations and movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite…on the other hand, the idea that there’s a separate section of Twitter for Black people is kind of an odd concept to me. Too many groups in charge of the mainstream media houses downplay, dumb down, and denigrate the term and speak to it in a disparaging manner. [But for me] it is a place where I am able to connect with people who are like family. Black Twitter is like seasoning on the dopest fried catfish.” As one-third of the wildly popular podcast, Fan Bros Show, Tatiana joins DJ BenHaMeen and Chico Leo in discussing the week in geek culture. While putting people up on new topics that affect the world of fandom, she has also used her platform to educate the tech and media industry, for instance addressing “how the Black Twitterverse has changed pop culture” as an invited speaker at SXSW Interactive in 2014.
A digitally-minded creativist from the 56k dial-up era, Mrs. King-Jones has taken her love for computers (“I went into college as a Computer Science major.”) and dove into the world of the Internet to discover what worked best for her. As anyone who makes a living out of being connected can attest, trolls and spammers come with the territory. Such negativity would make a weaker person shrivel up and hide behind a made-up screen name. But for this Howard University graduate, remaining real IRL is more paramount than being a trending topic. “My government name is my Twitter handle, so I have been building a brand and don’t need anyone to define my brand for me,” Mrs. King-Jones said. “I want to be the only one with the power to choose who will eat off this name.” A self-proclaimed introvert, Tatiana has always been a writer at heart. After leaving her job at DC-based consultancy firm CEB behind in 2007, the Fan Bros host dedicated her full time and energy to her own persona.
“Black Twitter is essentially part of my extended online family,” Mrs. King-Jones admitted to us. “[I have been] online since the days of AOL, so you [quickly] get wrapped into the evolving landscape of ‘The People of the Internet.” For a generation, this is the perfect time to be alive as the convergence of mediums are clashing and collaborating at an exciting pace. Shows are being developed from the pool of online black genius, while injustices and travesties are being broadcasted and spotlighted by activists anchored through 140 characters or less. In the case of Tatiana King-Jones, being a part of #BlackTwitter has shaped and educated her opportunities, which are continually vast and engaging. “Black Twitter has afforded me great moments from Fan Bros to my Tech Talk YouTube series with Andrea Lewis. Black Twitter has been nothing but helpful, necessary even,” she said.
“I feel like I’ve always been a full-time citizen of the Internet. My growth has allowed me to be a commentator on topics that I consider myself an expert in.”
As the “Uhura of Fan Bros,” Mrs. King-Jones vividly recalls the moment she became a trusted source of information. “I’ve been the ‘Grand Duchess of Tech’ for years, from way back during the We Nerd Hard podcast with Elon James White,” she shared with us. “I learned from him the power of independent media, so my natural nerd-dom carried over online. It’s my life.” During most major tech events like Apple’s WWDC and Samsung’s Unpacked events, Tatiana is in the thick of it all, live tweeting and offering analysis and comedy. “That’s my brand: tech from a black woman’s perspective who knows what she’s talking about and will joke about the industry [at large]. For instance the tweet where she addressed Apple’s CEO Tim Cook as “fam” or the one where she dished on the Android vs. Apple shade. Clearly having fun with her access, #BlackTwitter and Twitizens from elsewhere gravitate to her page for the latest and greatest news. Or as she put it, via email: “I was able to speak directly to people that I would never in any other life have access to—scientists, music artists, journalists, engineers, VCs.”
You can’t be the Grand Duchess if you’re not well versed on social media, right? Right. The Love at First Byte creator has an activity level that’s hard to match. “I’m on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, of course and Facebook,” she told us. “From a personal perspective, Facebook is the only one I use sparingly because it’s just too much and I hate their curation algorithm.” Twitter, however, remains hands-down Tatiana’s all-time favorite place to be when it comes to online adventuring. “[Twitter is] responsible for my blooming as an individual through that platform,” she told us. “I’ve grown so much from looking at my tweets from years past and I’ve found so much knowledge and opportunity on there.” By being such a successful commentator of nerd and pop culture, she draws the line at calling herself a social advocate. “I consider myself an expert and Twitter has given me the space to speak out on topics and issues that personally matter to me from a social and political standpoint,” she said.
An unapologetic pop culture junkie who loves Star Wars, Fox’s Empire and black liberation all in the same breath, Tatiana King-Jones is “twerking with her fist up” in an attempt to spotlight black empowerment and speak on the real, damaging nature of white supremacy. “I have multiple interests and passions, yet I would also be with my friends dancing to Trap music. As Kanye said, ‘I write my curses in cursive.'” Having not defined herself as activist or interventionist, the consummate tech evangelist is all about amplifying voices of color in the startup world. “I call attention to things, people and concepts that others are not paying enough attention to,” she mentioned to us. “There is an ongoing conversation about underrepresentation and the digital divide, and I am here for the creators and leaders of the next generation.”
For those invested and benefitting from #BlackTwitter, their online lives are boosted to another level which changes perception from the trolls and spammers. How does King-Jones stand up against the negativity and snark that comes with being on Twitter–let alone affiliated with such a visible movement? “Most troll accounts I outright ignore because 10 times out of 10 they are bots or super-trolls that are incredibly bored and just want to muck up your timeline,” she answered. “I’ve been blessed to not have to deal with it like April Reign (@ReignOfApril) or Jamie Nesbitt Golden (@TheWayOfTheID), so I can’t really complain. It’s just hard especially if you’re black and especially if you’re a woman.”
With the Fan Bros Show continuing to gain popularity, Tatiana proves that she is an eloquent, dedicated and passionate online voice to service the blerd + geek communities. Much like her pinned tweet, Tatiana King-Jones holds back the flood of hate and ignorance with style and grace, making her a more polished entity to be reckoned with. The future is approaching faster than expected, as the “atypical nerd” is already putting in the work for the next phase of her professional and online career. “My biggest personal goal is to tap back into my own creativity,” she told us. “I have gone so many years feeding my analytical side that I’ve recognized my creative side needs a lot of nourishment. #BlackTwitter, as a concept, has made many outsiders and agitators mad and retaliatory. But for Tatiana King-Jones, she believes that their issues stem from envy. “When you’re power-hungry or attention-starved, getting mad at not being invited to Black Twitter is possible. It just sounds like people in their feelings and that does nothing for me.”
As this black woman enters into a new phase, Tatiana King-Jones is a next level connector who is committed to serving her community while informing them of the future.
>>>Follow the latest from Tatiana King-Jones on Twitter @TatianaKing.