A nationally televised event always brings out the best from social media and the 2015 State of the Union was no exception. African American Twitter users took to the 140-character giant to voice their opinions on what President Obama did — and didn’t say — in real time.
His plan for free community college was met with both praise and head scratches on how to pay for it. There was great disappointment in his failure to address the protests that have happened across the country in response to police overreach and brutality. And there was love, as always, for what first lady Michelle Obama wore.
What transpired was a social media gathering of black journalists, pundits, and many others live-tweeting commentary about social and national issues throughout the State of the Union.
A Pause When Michelle O. Enters The Room
As the president prepared to make his entrance, the focus shifted to who was wearing what. Eyes were mostly on Michelle Obama, but there were hair and fashion shout-outs for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s famous braid.
'Orange Is the New Black?'
If the fashion got pluses, the tans got minuses… Namely the infamous tan of Speaker of the House John Boehner.
But Boehner wasn’t the only one called out on twitter for having an “Orange Is the New Black” moment. Many expressed bewilderment at the fact that the president seemed a shade too tangerine.
And YOU Get to Go to Community College! And YOU Get to Go to Community College!
Responding like the president was Oprah and there was a free car under their tweets, there was a lot of praise for Obama's plans around minimum wage, the gender pay gap and maternity leave.
But when it came to the free community college proposal, discussion turned to how the government would foot the bill.
And that lead to some general frustration that this rhetoric from President Obama has been heard before, is unlikely to pass through the GOP majority Congress and, for some, is just plain garbage.
Fight ISIS? Yes. Fight Boko Haram? President Says, 'Who?'
It wasn’t all jokes and fashion flourishes, there was a lot of disappointment in this State of the Union. When the president got to the section about terrorism and international relations the tragedy in Nigeria did not make the cut.
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (Now Including the Poor and Immigrants)
And what about poor people, systemic racism, immigration and other issues? These items didn’t get much attention despite many on #BlackTwitter calling for the president to address them.
#BlackLivesMatter: No Justice, No Place … In the State of the Union
But the biggest heartbreak? No mention of #BlackLivesMatter, the movement born out of the fight against police brutality. No mentions of Mike Brown, Eric Garner or Tamir Rice (or anyone killed by police), and just one mention of Ferguson. Instead President Obama tried to appease both sides, equating black and brown fear of police to that of a police officer’s spouse worrying about their safety on the beat. #BlackTwitter, which has been an integral part of this Civil Rights Movement 2.0 didn’t hold back its frustration and disappointment.
There was a tonal shift when the president responded to the enthusiastic GOP applause over how he can’t run for election again. The president shut that applause down by reminding Republican naysayers he can’t run again because he already won twice. Term limits are apparently the only thing keeping him from eating the competition’s lunch. And with that, for #BlackTwitter, boom goes the dynamite!
Got to Laugh to Keep from Crying
And when all else failed, #BlackTwitter was there for a good joke.