Twitter can sometimes feel like a massive hellscape with no joy in sight. We feel you. We do. Some days, like everyone else, we want to delete the app and find our inner peace. But the truth is, there’s too much good lurking in there — too much joy in an otherwise hopeless place. You just need to dig past the blockbusters to find the hidden gems.
Granted, “hidden” is a relative term here. Having 50,000 followers still means a good-sized town is listening to your random thoughts. But on a platform where everyone from reporters to activists can have 10 times that, it felt like a good place to start. We’ve got journalists and activists, too — but we also have comedians, actors, policy experts, rappers, and everyone in between. So hit that follow button… and don’t forget to thank us for helping patch up your relationship with that little blue bird.
Also, this is alphabetical, not ranked — so if you want to have that argument, you know where to take it. (Hint: Twitter.)
Location: Las Vegas
The formula: Wrestling Blackness + MMA Blackness
Hale knows the MMA and wrestling world like the back of his hand — as senior editor of Combat Sports, he’s up on everything happening — but he’s really out here advocating for Black wrestling stars and fighters. If someone is punching someone else, whether real or fake, he’s got you covered.
The formula: Public policy + smart-ass smartness
Andre’s a fellow at the Brookings Institute and is deep in the public policy game, with a speciality in redlining and other structural fuckery that’s plagued Black neighborhoods in the U.S. This is the account that you’ll quote to all of your friends to sound smart.
Location: North Carolina
The formula: Protest Work + Freedom
Ash Williams is a blueprint for what we need in our activism. In a time when too many Black folks are still waking up to the fact that Black trans lives matter, they’re pushing us to be better every day.
The formula: Hoops rabble-rousing + podcast nerdery + (LeBron fandom x 1,000)
Eddie “Bansky” Gonzalez is a die hard LeBron fan who also works with Kevin Durant — so at any given moment on any given day, he’s liable to piss you off with some basketball-related tweet. But you can’t turn away. He’ll always give you something to talk about. (Bonus points for co-hosting the dope podcast Last Album on Earth.)
The formula: Writing brilliance + mental health + Insecure takes
Sure, Insecure may be over, but Bassey Ikpi is watching and rewatching episodes in perpetuity, so she has all the analysis you’ll ever need. She’s also a New York Times bestselling author, I’m Telling The Truth But I’m Lying, a collection of essays, was one of the best books of 2019.
The formula: Political commentary + more (yes, more) Insecure thoughts
If you’re looking for: Someone who understands what the hell is happening in this country. Brooke Thomas has gone viral several times for her unfiltered thoughts on the primaries, police violence, and whatever is going to happen in November. (Not to mention an Insecure pod that you can’t miss.)
Location: New Jersey
The formula: A little Jesus + a lotta knowledge
Someone who will give you plenty of scripture — but also some critical, captivating discussion about the Word and the state of the church. She also can sprinkle in some tweets for the late night crowd too; there’s a reason her podcast (and forthcoming book of essays!) is called Red Lip Theology.
The formula: Nerd culture x Black culture = all the damn culture
As a writer for io9, it’s Pulliam’s job to have a finger on the pulse of everything sci-fi, which he does masterfully — not to mention standing at the oft-ignored intersection of comic books and Black culture. We need more Charles Pulliams in the game, period.
The Formula: Activism x organizing + journalism
Clarissa is fearless, thoughtful, and armed with all the smoke — able to go from demonstrating on the ground in Atlanta to dropping gems in articles across the internet. Plus, as someone who won’t hesitate to burn shit down, she’s a solid source for protesting logistics for folks just getting involved for the first time.
Location: Oakland, CA
The formula: Getting us free x Fighting Big Tech
As the co-founder and senior fellow of the organization Media Justice, Malkia Devich-Cyril is really out here with their feet to the pavement. If you thought technology could only fix things rather than exacerbate them, Devich-Cyril would like to have a word. Big tech and surveillance need to be dismantled, and they’re at the forefront of that fight.
The formula: Journalism icon + music history
Trust, Danyel Smith has more cultural knowledge than you can handle at one time. She and husband Elliott Wilson have a fantastic newsletter called HRDlist which gives you a daily helping of everything going on, but the woman who was so nice she ran Vibe twice, is a treasure trove of knowledge and history in her own right.
The formula: Up-and-coming rapper + social media savant
A mix of Dirty South brilliance and some of the most creative uses of social media and TikTok we have. He never just drops music; it always comes with some off-the-wall video, including Black Sailor Moon with a phatty.
Location: St. Louis
The formula: DEFUND! x Freedom fighting
If you’re looking for someone to guide you through the ideas of defunding the police in ways even the most staunch opposers will come around to, Purnell’s your person. The attorney and writer has been beating the drum for some time now, but the shape of works is making this her time to shine. I can’t stress this enough: Her words and her thoughts are urgent. Hear them.
The formula: Incredible mixes + live DJ sets x industry knowhow
Wally Sparks is one of the best DJs in the game and is known to keep the ATL rocking on a given night. Now he’s got his mixes and sets all over the internet. Plus, as someone who has DJed and A&Rd some big stars he always has valuable insight.
The formula: Newsroom know-how + culture takes
It’s not that Dodai Stewart is the deputy editor of the New York Times Metro section. Or that she’s been in the media game for more than 20 years. It’s that she’s all that — and still makes her Twitter feed a place of joy. Sometimes you just need a break, you know?
The formula: Activism + Renaissance man
Dylan Park is a TV writer and all-around creative, but the Current Moment has really made him a must-follow. Since George Floyd’s murder, he’s been weaving threads that take over the internet — while also showing off his love of the Bay Area and everything West Coast.
The formula: Political commentary + Southern food takes
Errin Haines is one of the best political beat reporters in the country — formerly covering race for the Associated Press, she’s the editor at large of The 19th, a woman-led journalism nonprofit. Ahead of that site’s summer launch, her newsletter is already required reading, and there’s no one better to have on your radar heading into the thick of the presidential race.
The formula: Gaming + broadcasting + esports commentary
A co-host of Cheddar Esports until the network folded in April, Erin is really out here covering the esports world — and streaming games herself on Twitch. If you care about competitive gaming, you need her on your radar.
Location: Austin, TX
The formula: Comic books + nerd culture mastery + vulnerability
Evan Narcisse isn’t just a veteran journalist turned comic book (Rise of the Black Panther), video game (Spider-Man: Miles Morales), and anime (Gen:LOCK) writer. He’s also rawly honest in a way that’s all too rare on social media. Not only does he share his wins, but he lets the world in on what he’s going through and feeling.
The formula: Comedy + daily affirmations
We watched Felonious hustle from a Twitter jokester to a regular on ABC’s For Life. We love seeing our faves glow up like this. You should, too.
The formula: Shenanigans + more shenanigans
George Foster is one of the funniest people on Twitter and it only takes a day of following him to understand why — especially if that day features a Verzuz battle.
The formula: Sports Thoughts x Game-Changing Race Analysis
One of the OG sports journalists, ESPN’s Howard Bryant has been unafraid to tackle race and sports since before it was safe — let alone cool — to do. He helped shape a generation of journalists, and with books like this year’s Full Dissidence: Notes From an Uneven Playing Field stays showing that he’s still untouchable in the lane he occupies.
The formula: All rap everything + debates for days
Trent Clark is editor of HipHopDX, so he can tell you every Source rating from every rap album ever made. He’s relentless in his takes and is an endless source of rap debates — meaning he’ll mix it up with anyone. If you come, come correct.
The formula: Netflix Blackness x A BEYONCÉ RETWEET
Yes, Jasmyn Lawson is the force behind Netflix’s Strong Black Lead social accounts — but in case you haven’t heard, she was once retweeted by Beyoncé. Yes. That Beyoncé.
The formula: Serious comedy + bi bravado
Following Jay feels a little bit like following Jaboukie Young-White before he blew all the way up — and not because they’re both hilarious queer Black comics. It’s because in both cases, you’ve got someone shaping their own unmistakable voice, and the privilege of that front-row seat is never lost on you.
The formula: Positivity x accountability
Joel Leon is the closest thing Twitter has to a meditative read. He’s dope on Twitter for the same reasons he was selected to give a flagship TED Talk — he’s just nonstop ideas for self-care and betterment. Whether he’s telling you to name a plant after yourself or simply that you are enough, he’s a shot of confidence to start your day. (He also edged over 50K while I was writing this, but still deserves to be here!)
Location: Nashville, TN
The formula: Sneakers + music x internet savvy
One of the most influential behind-the-scenes tastemakers in the game. He’s an old-school NikeTalk guy and former EIC at hip-hop blog, The Smoking Section. (Full disclosure: that’s how I got my own start in writing — and my Twitter handle.) He always has his finger on the pulse of culture and reps Nashville to the fullest.
The formula: Sports + Media + Culture + Great writing
A perennial home-run hitter for The Undefeated. He’s good for commentary in his tweets and links to some of the best pens in the game.
The formula: Black literary excellence + Anti-ableism fighter
Keah Brown became a social media legend in 2017 by starting the hashtag #DisabledAndCute to highlight beauty and confidence within the disability community. Her 2019 book, The Pretty One is a must-read — and she’s got more to come.
The formula: Mean prose game + Trump booty jokes
No lie, one of the greatest writers of our generation. His memoir Heavy is one of the best books of the 21st century and his writing greatness spills into his Twitter feed. He’s also dedicated many of his thoughts to the investigation of Donald Trump’s juicy booty, which we need more of.
Location: North Carolina
The formula: Gaming culture + elite internet videos
Kofie Yeboah has an insatiable desire to give us the newest and most creative videos on the internet — especially when it comes to gaming. He’s dug into the culture, making his feed indispensable for passing time in quarantine.
Location: Irving, TX
The formula: Football insider + (swag x ∞)
The host of Bleacher Report’s “Untold Stories,” a video series highlighting conversations with retired NFL players and their wildest tales, Master Tesfatsion is giving us all a look at the future of sports journalism. He’s not just a host and a dope writer, though — he’s breaking stories on Twitter, too. Stay alert, Woj.
The formula: Bars + delivery
If you follow the rap veteran, you know that he’s seemingly always minutes away from dropping a video telling you he’s one of the best MCs out. He’s always been a wordsmith, but his encyclopedic recollection of hip-hop and battle rap lore makes him a must on Twitter.
The formula: Black girl magic + thoughtful gender critiques
Shanita Hubbard isn’t just a dope writer — she’s one of the pivotal voices featured in On The Record, the recent documentary about the sexual assault allegations against Russell Simmons. Plus, as part of the NABJ’s freelance task force, she’s an invaluable source of tips on getting work in the industry.
The formula: The internet’s tea shop
If you’re looking for: The place with all the “tea” you’ll ever need. He seems to see the fly out drama as it’s happening and brings the hilarious commentary for every scenario. He’s also just a great, positive, inspirational post away from making your day. Definitely a must-have on your e-Rolodex.
Location: New Jersey
The formula: GOOOOOOALLLLLLLLL
Over at Bleacher Report, Aaron West has become one of the young leaders in young soccer journalism in the game. As a college player himself, he’s covered footie (did I say that right?) forever, and mixes the sports with the culture in a way that makes fútbol feel inviting even to novices like me.
The formula: Police know-how + lewks
Never underestimate someone who can process and explain law and complex policy in 280 characters. But it’s not just brain jewels: Mitchum also seems to have a fresh fit for any selfie on any given day. Smart and sartorial
The formula: Southern crunk x straight-up scholarship
Regina N. Bradley, PhD, is one of the foremost scholars on Black southern art in any genre — but especially hip-hop. The Kennesaw State professor co-hosts the southern hip-hop podcast, Bottom of the Map, and always brings the goods on anything related to the music we love south of the Mason/Dixon.
The formula: Social issues + pure comedy
Shamira Ibrahim’s brilliant takes are only going to make you smarter. Not only will she challenge you on issues, but she’ll somehow make you feel smarter and dumber at the same damn time. It’s miraculous, honestly.
The formula: Radical Black love + endless brain food
No, Robert Jones isn’t James Baldwin’s actual son, but he lives up to the name as an intellectual descendant. His massive Facebook page is its own community of thought leaders, but his Twitter page is nothing to overlook. He often embarks on Twitter threads meatier than the trash takes you’re reading in the usual online suspects.
The formula: Culture-criticism powerhouse x unapologetic realness
Real talk, if you’re a Pulitzer Prize finalist — as she was for her theater columns in The Undefeated last year — then you should get a guaranteed spot on the list. On Twitter, expect stellar thoughts on everything from Broadway to Tyler Perry.
Location: Columbus, OH
The formula: Activism x more activism + the work
Elle Hearns is one of the most effective and impactful organizers we got. She’s an omnipresent voice in reminding us that we are not free until everyone is free — and that Black trans lives matter as much as anyone else’s.
The Formula: Hella opinions x fire takes
With a finger on her pulse on the daily headlines and a pitch-perfect perspective, Sylvia’s a necessary addition to the TL. She was the host of BuzzFeed’s podcast, Hella Opinions and now co-hosts Okay, Now Listen for Netflix’s Strong Black Lead.
The formula: A Black Jewish perspective + real abolition talk
Someone who’s been putting the current chaos of the world in perspective in ways we desperately need. He is an organizer and his tweets make you feel like you can run through a brick wall.
The formula: Hilarity x PowerPoint mastery
Like so many great comedians, Ashley Ray is locked in on the events of the day — she just has a singular gift for distilling them into various forms. She’s not only got jokes; she writes crazy entertaining TV recaps and manages to make viral PowerPoints, too. Seriously, she is a magician with the click-y thingy.
The formula: Good vibes + a finger on the music pulse + overall flyness
A heavy hitter who’s managed to stay anonymous for years, The Dynamics is that dude who lets you know what’s hot before you even know you’re looking for the heat. He always seems to know what’s going on and you will too if you have him on the timeline.
The formula: Daily writing fire x singular wit
Damon Young, author of 2019’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, is (along with Panama Jackson) one half of the blog, Very Smart Brothas. He’s also a GQ columnist and one of the smartest, most ruthlessly truthful thinkers around — and stays firing off heat like Pedro Martinez in his prime.
The formula: Black girl magic + new ways to think about everything
Wanna Thompson is a table-shaker for real. She’s been at the center of some major Twitter moments, not the least of which is when she helped coin the phrase “Blackfishing” to call out white IG models for tanning and trying to look like Black women. And for the Caribbean massive, she’s got all your carnival needs and fit suggestions in one place.
The formula: Gaming + unapologetic nerd culture
Gita Jackson — formerly at apex gaming site Kotaku, and currently at Vice’s tech vertical Motherboard — is proof that Black women don’t just game, but move the culture around gaming.
The formula: Music journalism supernova
Travis “Yoh” Phillips is possibly the most prolific, and indisputably the hungriest, music writer in the game. Come for his one-listen album reviews at DJ Booth, stay for the perfect take on music, at the right time.