The Faces of Black Twitter: Meet Tracy Clayton
Tracy Clayton photographed by Shayan Asgharnia for Okayplayer
Name: Tracy Clayton
Twitter Handle: @BrokeyMcPoverty
Known all over the digital world as one of the sharpest voices in the podcast game as well as Black Twitter, Tracy Clayton is consistently one of the smartest people in whatever room she occupies. Whether she’s riffing on the prospects of losing her “black card” or asking which Living Single character you are — Tracy can hit the cultural mark with the accuracy of Roberto Clemente. Constantly assessing herself and advocating others to take care of themselves, @BrokeyMcPoverty is not only a woman of the people, but she’s also putting out good unto the world. As one-half of the wildly popular series, Another Round, Clayton and co-host Heben Nigatu are passionate in their distinct points of view.
“Witty, irreverent, intelligent,” according to The Guardian, is a statement that would be gladly echoed by Tracy’s 60K followers. A writer and a creative, this Louisville-to-New York transplant has taken the internets by storm with her charisma and rapid-fire delivery. Before joining Buzzfeed, Clayton wrote for MadameNoire, Uptown Magazine, The Urban Daily, Post-Bougie and The Root. She cleverly made herself known on Tumblr before most were even checking for the site with her “Little Known Black History Facts,” which is now a staple on the Another Round podcast. If you do follow Tracy, you already know about her love for black people, her family, Beyoncé and being an all-around smart ass.
Consistently ranked in the top 10 for podcasts by Slate, Vulture and The A.V. Club, it’s certain that it won’t be long before Brokey McPoverty becomes super-rich Successy McMoneybanks and we’ll all be the better for it. How Sway? Simply put, her unerring talent for telling the truth unfiltered every day. But it’s never quite so simple; the level of execution she displays is part and parcel of the high profile she’s found in her online life. “I think [to myself], ‘Man, I really have to step it up or they’re going to fire me,” she said in an interview with Insider Louisville. “I’m going to be stranded in New York, I’m going to pick up a coke habit because that’s what you do.” Quite the opposite, actually, as it is looking like Tracy has a blazing present and future in front of her.
As a fixture of #BlackTwitter, Tracy has black folks talking and cracking a rib with laughter. “I’m fine with the term [Black Twitter], but quickly grew tired with white people treating the phenomenon of black people like some odd, crazy-foreign science experiment,” she told us in an email. “All the ‘WHAT ARE BLACK PEOPLE DOING ON TWITTER?!?!’ pieces made me feel like an alien. We’re just people doing what everyone else does.” Yes, yes, we’re not a monolith, we’re a powerful populace who have stories, jokes and adventures like the rest of the human race. Standing amongst the people, Tracy, herself, has done more to raise awareness about mental health, anxiety, discrimination against black women and encourage more government-sanctioned turn ups than most anybody out here. “There isn’t much difference [between myself IRL + online],” Tracy admitted to us. “I’m not always ‘on’ in real life, as it can seem online; it sometimes throws people off when I walk into a room and sit quietly in a corner versus jumping up on a table and telling some crazy story about my period.”
Choosing to be as offline as she is online, #BlackTwitter has enriched and emboldened her career and, according to Tracy, “played a huge part in me doing what I do today.” Her desire to elevate some of the deeper frustrations that lie beneath the surface of black culture, Tracy discusses issues regarding America that would make Hillary Clinton flinch. Oh, wait, she actually did make Hillary Clinton flinch. Diffusing strong subject matter with a chaser of humor, Tracy is refreshingly vibrant on a public platform such as #BlackTwitter where she can touch on topics we all think about.
“I actually hated Twitter when I first tried it. My very first tweet was, Okay, I’m here. Now what?”
Joining the social media network in 2008, Tracy has been “fairly consistent” in the things that she’s tweeted about. Her successes, her stories and her comedic skills have landed her in the pages of Poytner and Forbes, while her uncensored brand of humor have made guests like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Queen Latifah and Lin-Manuel Miranda feel right at home on Another Round. With a hipper flow than your average podcast, Tracy and Heben showcase their knowledge on a range of topics one drink at a time. Another Round, which is on its 54th episode, celebrated an impressive 2015 going into 2016. The duo have had their triumphs and frustrations championed by those who also feel the lack of blackness within pop culture; have opened up about the impact of squirrels in their lives and spoke directly to the millennial black woman on the go about life and love. Leveraging her own spot in #BlackTwitter, Tracy definitely gets all her feels off in 140 characters or less. “I’m a writer with a very busy brain and too many thoughts that I need to release, and the best place for micro-communication via text, naturally, is Twitter,” she told us.
A year and a half ago before becoming a member of the Buzzfeed squad, Tracy was one of the major participants behind the #BlackBuzzFeed hashtag, which quickly trended worldwide after the company made another diversity hire. “I was working part-time for The Root then, and I had a lot of time to play around with the hashtag, which was basically an imagining of black-themed Buzzfeed articles,” she told us. One of the standout ideas would later become “13 Times Jazz Got Thrown Out Of The House On ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air,’ and got the attention of Buzzfeed. “Soon people started tweeting at Buzzfeed saying that they should hire me,” she said. “The next thing I know I’m being flown out to New York City for an interview.”
Definitely here for people who have been wronged or oppressed, Tracy uses satire through her #BlackTwitter page to “chip away at the boulders [that] many women and people of color find on their backs, collectively…In the hands of the oppressed, humor becomes a sharp and invaluable weapon,” Tracy told us. During our photoshoot for the #BlackTwitter profile, she, much like our other compatriots, came in wearing her thoughts on her sleeve. As you can see for yourself above, this “uppity” creativist also uses sarcasm to stand up to the trolls and snark that comes her way. “Twitter has been a momentous tool in fostering awareness and [creating] positive change,” Tracy said, citing the way the social media network was able to hold white people and their institutions accountable for their actions. “When things get to us, we [Black Twitter] have a tendency to clap back.” Rejecting the notion that black people are “more acerbic” than any other group, Tracy admits to being a chronic over-sharer and encourages others to do the same with the hashtag #livetweetyourperiod, which was featured on an episode of ABC’s The View.
A proud black woman who has not only the support of #BlackTwitter at large, but people who support her personally and her Another Round program, Tracy has found it easier to be a tweeter than a speaker. “I’m more eloquent online,” she told us, “and it is easier to speak out with my fingers versus my mouth. [But] I’m learning to be more outspoken about my own personal beliefs offline and it’s a real joy to see that happening.” One of her most retweeted moments came courtesy of the #Beyhive after Beyoncé dropped her surprise-relationship-revealing album Lemonade and Tracy poked fun at Jay Z with the following tweet below:
— Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) April 24, 2016
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she told us, “I honesty think I have tons of more prolific tweets out there, but that’s just me. An online savant since an early age, Tracy even made here presence on Okayplayer back when. “I cut my teeth on the General Discussion boards [laughs],” she shared with us via email. “That’s where I learned how to chop trolls down, tell stories and be funny on this here very peculiar medium that is the internet.” While not going into specifics about her screen name, she admitted that the reason why she stopped was because being on OKP’s message boards was taking up too much of her life at the time. “It was a very, very amazing thing for me—without it I probably never would have moved out of Kentucky or gotten into online writing at all. [Being on OKP] gave me some of my favorite and oldest friends, but it was just time to say thanks for all that it had given me and move on.”
As Tracy Clayton continues on her journey of honest reflection, advocacy and smart humor, she uses her own struggles with anxiety to help the next person with theirs. In an era where ones next post or tweet is manufactured for optimum results, @BrokeyMcPoverty is rich in originality and should be regarded as a persona who improves our days whether via a joke, brave truth or simple “you can do it!” tweet. “I feel like my online career happened through a series of random events with little intention on my part, so while it is hard for me to say what happens next, I do hope that I continue to be happy, can make something good [out of creation] and be something good to someone.
>>>Follow Ms. Tracy Clayton on Twitter @BrokeyMcPoverty.