Do It For the Culture: An Interview With the Creator of @Memesmanegguh
BY: MARLIN RAMOS
We’ve all heard about Black Twitter, but what about Black Instagram?
Just like Black Twitter, Black Instagram's mission is to entertain the Black community by producing media that is highly relatable to everyday life, be it through words, pictures, music or aesthetics. Take @Memesmahnegguh for example. The profile is 93,000 followers-strong and aims to expose the world to the creator’s rendition of New York culture.
In an interview with the creator of Memesmahnegguh, they stated they would only go by their Instagram name and did not wish to share their name or any other personal information. They only admitted to one thing—being from The Bronx, New York.
The meme maker first blew up with a video about a man in a True Religion jacket in the snow, insisting that he is not cold. The video got 14 shares in one hour on Facebook, and that number blew up to thousands of views and shares that same evening.
Eventually, Memes decided to include their watermark on the videos and made an Instagram page. In one day, Memes racked up 10,000 followers and is now at well over 90,000 since January 2016. Memes is even followed by fellow Bronx native, Joel Martinez, aka @Thekidmero from Viceland.
“It’s bigger than me,” Memes said. “I want [the page] to have a life of its own, to be its own thing. It’s about a community, not me, that’s the bigger picture.”
When viewing the memes, it is important to keep in mind the content and language are very explicit and hyper-contextualized to a specific, but large, demographic in NYC. As a result of this contextualization, it may come off as offensive to some.
Most of the memes take place Uptown or outside of Manhattan, and captures many of the challenges New Yorkers face while traveling or in school. It also fuels off of cultural staples, such as having a bacon, egg and cheese for breakfast, chopped cheese for lunch and hitting the chicken spot for dinner.
Fashion is another big part of the memes. Thrasher, BAPE, True Religion, Polo, Nike Tech, Marmots, Supreme, Goose and, of course, Timberland boots and a Yankee's cap are all New York staples.
“We started that,” Memes said. “Timbs, Yankee caps, that’s very much a New York thing, especially a Bronx thing.” As a Bronx native, they discuss how “the BX got a lot of weight. Even though it’s getting gentrified. We got so much culture, yet people want to come at us. Fashion comes from here, Hip Hop came from here, we still lit.”
For a borough that is often only referenced by its striking statistics on violence and poverty, media that expresses the daily struggles of Bronx youth in a satirical way is powerful. New York culture, in relation to fashion, music and slang, has been mainstream for quite some time. But, these pieces of the city’s culture often leaves the Bronx out of the conversation—until now.
The inclusion of The Bronx can most clearly be seen with the rise of several successful Bronx artists, like Cardi B and A-Boogie, who unapologetically rep their borough. The rise of these artists and Memes shows us how despite it all, these people are still living and finding a way to appreciate their “hood’s” culture.
But, also keep in mind that the culture Memes is presenting is only a small piece of the bigger picture—the people who don’t fit into the common Times Square, Soho or Upper West Side picture of NYC.
This community of underrepresented people of color in NYC includes the lives of thousands of hardworking people, immigrants and intellectuals alike, just trying to survive in a very gritty piece of this concrete jungle.