Originally Published Monday, March 14, 2005, comments copied below
Blogging While Black
(I’m trying to live blog this one for a friend)
(Ratio of women: total participants [corrected] 28:80)
Lynne D. Johnson is kicking off the panel. She started out journaling online which turns out to be a blog. Also on the panel is Tiffany B. Brown, from Georgia Tech (corrected). She has a personal blog at tiffanybbrown.com, a wine blog and manages a community blog www.blackfeminism.org. George Kelly (updated link 3/15) edits Negrophile.com, has allaboutgeorge.com. Tony Pierce works by day at E and writes http://www.tonypierce.com with writing and photos. Jason Toney is a web developer with blog athttp://www.negroplease.com.
What’s in a name and why does it matter?
Tiffany Brown: Blackfeminism.org – it is what it is and that’s why I picked it!
Tony started the blog at work out of boredom and rides the bus to work.
Jason found other black folks talking about what he was interested in. When he left blogspot for his own domain, he wanted them to know what they are getting. Negroplease tells you. It is more for his minority community, so people can easily find him and a black voice.
George Kelly: AboutGeorge.com was so he could focus on everything. pictures, stories. Started in May 2000. Was not in the loop with other people starting things up. He did not meet them till his firs SXSW conference in 2003. About three years after starting the blog he met Jason and Eric from uppitynegro.com I saw their names and got jealous. I wanted to be a Negro to. So Negrophile – it is in the dictionary.
Jason Toney: People asked me about Negro Please. I like to say Negro out loud.
Does race matter?
Tiffany because I blog about technology, feminism and wine. “I do think race matters online. 1. There is a kind of a role model aspect. Make those connections. Know you are not the only one. If you are a progressive voice it is nice to know there are other people who don’t think you are crazy and you can create
Tony Pierce: “I might be a little different that what people think a black blogger might be. (Pierce) It is important for me to be honest about who I am. When I talk about OJ I’m talking about it from a black man’s perspective. If I’m going to enter into the discussion on my blog, it is important to be transparent. This is a black man talking about this. A kid who grew up with OJ as a hero. Interestingly though, most people who see me don’t’ see a black man and read me don’t think that. So it is important to remind them.
Jason Toney – I was telling someone about this panel and I said Tony was going to be on the panel and they said, why, he’s not black. My personal sight, you see my picture. Negro is the first word. If you google Negro I’m the fourth or fifth page. Everyone who comes on my site knows what they are getting. But as editor for )____ my picture is not there. How does my race affect what I write on LAIST.com The Devon Brown case in LA, our two local papers, wrote about his funeral. I find the Daily News coverage to be culturally insensitive, retarded. I mentioned that and someone commented that you had probably not been to a black funeral. That would not happen on my site because people know who I am. Not on LAist. In the blog world it is easy to assume it is a white man. How does my race affect what I write on a site that is not about race?
George Kelly – I’m a black blogger. I wanted to write about everything and affirm that I have an affiliation with people who look like me, an obligation, not just to represent them but to just try to be wholly myself and true to the people I’m friends with online, read and link to regularly. IT has been full of lessons. The idea that why does it matter, what does it matter if a person is black or white. All that matters should be the words they write. But what they write does not come out of a vacuum, but out of a person from the real world, where real world rules, customs, traditions, expectations apply. Noe of this comes tabula rasa. ON the Daily News Coverage – as a copy editor, one of my jobs is to weigh in on issues of sensitivity if I think someone has come up with a headline that isn’t going to work. I’m in a place I’m pretty happy with my staffers, I’d try to put up a link of percentages of folks in the newsroom.
Tony – when I was in college we capitalized Black, as another term for African American. How do you feel about that?
George – I lower case black. My focus is clarity and readability. Johnson publishing, Ebony, Jet are all upper case.
Jason – there are some limitations and challenges with being known as a black blogger. Someone wrote thatcoloredfella.blogspot.com wrote that people have assumptions about whether or not to respect his opinions based on that. If I don’t cover an issue that’s germane to the Black community I get emails asking why I don’t talk about Michael Jackson… that I should have an opinion on them because I am a Black blogger. Being voices in the larger community, not putting our business out on Front Street. As black people posting on the web, talking about Cosby, should we talk about this within our community before more broadly. Should we talk about negative things in the community and have others use them as a weapon. Two years ago I wrote about the Joe Boxer commercial. I hated that commercial and wrote a really angry piece about it. Not racism, but was uncomfortabel with the imagry. A week later Slate picked it up, how it was a successful spot. For a week regular readers of my site discussed the ad. The day that Slate hit I had 50,000 hits and the conversation changed. The post had not been about race, but it became about race.
Identity blogging – Johnson – Something nominated about a bloggie in 2004, formica.ca, now she can’t use the name formica because the company name out of it. Now she is Notformi.ca (Not Formica). Black bloggers, my posse’s gone virtual. She put up this post about computer networks as social networks. What does it mean to be a black blogger. IN some ways we’ve touched on that. What is the responsibility? Does it mean everything you discuss is black.
Tiffany – it means you write who you are. At first I was reluctant to reveal my identity beyond being a women. When you write with an authentic voice it becomes hard to shield your identity. If I start speaking in black vernacular, that is what I want to express. It is letting who you are inform what you write and how you write.
Jason – I know that I have a lot more white readers than non white readers so I need to educate, throw a different perspective out there. With Michael Jackson all they are talking about is the pajamas, why aren’t we talking about the trial. Some people might call that racism. What about the boy who lied? I feel responsibility to let my uncles and aunts of the past have a voice. Instapundit is not going to write about that. Maybe they will have a different perspective when it comes from a site called NegroPlease. There is also the fact that Los Angeles is so multicultural/multiethnic. There is a lot of black stuff going on. I was dating a Korean girl. Black and Korean aren’t supposed to get along. We’re fixing things right now. I think most of the blogs out there don’t have our perspective so it is important to tell our stories.
George: There is something to be said for the role model aspect. Black people in Technology, in copy editing, in running sites. For knowing there is more than one voice in political discussions. One of the reasons identity blogging is so important. Isntapundit isn’t going to write about it and they are setting the agenda. If you don’t have others writing from other perspectives, will they make it to the agenda? Black, Asian, Gay, Women bloggers.
Jason – IN the larger conversation there is a dearth of alternative voices. We do where are all the women bloggers once a month and where are all the minority bloggers once a month. We are out there talking to each other and wanting to be heard. I did not start out wanting to be heard beyond my 8 friends, but as I’ve grown as a blogger, what I want more is where there are a million bloggers all I see are the same ten white guys on CNN. There was a guy on CNN who made a game called
how to be a black man.” He had a gap tooth and a 1977 hair cut and was being brought on TV as a legitimate black voice. There are a ton of intelligent black voices, but the people that make it to me are doing the ___ routine. It’s killing me. My hope that us doing a panel here, people having an awareness.
Jeanne Sessum who writes allied.blogspot.com and asked “How white is your blog roll” and bloggers where shocked because they had either not considered it or that the blog roll is all white. Your blog roll is a reflection of what you see day to day in your life. People link to the people they see and the voices they reflect as valid voices. If you are a white man who only respects white voices. Your blogroll will look like you. Same for black bloggers. Of the 260 black blogs we are aware of they link to each other. Encourage people to seek out and hear new voices. The identity blogging matters to get those alternative perspectives. We talked about authenticity and transparency yesterday — how it matters for people thinking of your voice as valid. Important to wear our culture on our sleeve so other minority knows we are valid.
George – to be present, link to other people, insert ourselves into germane conversations (and for the fun of it), we have an internal obligation to talk about things amongst us, IM, IRC, mailing list. We have to talk about the things with people we don’t necessarily agree with. The top ranked black bloggers on Truthlaidbare’s ecosystem tend to be conservative in voice. One blogger I’ve met and respect, Michael Bowen (cop). He took it upon himself… he’s been around forever.. I first read him in 1997 posting on USENET. I was impressed by the voice. We became aware of each other again in late 2004 – he makes clear his beliefs of being black, republican, etc . He’s taking it upon himself to gather in other conservative voices and created theconvervativebrotherhood I’m not sure there needs to be a liberal counterpoint, needing to be organized. He tends to speak to black people’s conservative mores or customs. But black people don’t necessarily. vote in conservative ways.
Tiffany – blog role varies between blogs. Thinks she is the only black wine blogger. For technology blog color doesn’t matter, audience is everybody. Disparate. I don’t have a core audience. Each blog has a distinct feel. With black feminism I know it is not just black women, black men, the larger (mostly white) feminist community.
Tony – I’ve been linked by a lot of pot smokers lately and I think that’s awesome. I really wish I had a different name for my blog. If someone came over with a big bag of weed I’d take a picture of it and put in on my blog. But there is no way you are going to see that on my blog.
Jason – I think a wide variety of people. More women than men, a lot of black gay men who are hopeful that I am also, what I found with my blog, a lot of black people who grew up in multicultural communities, meaning they were the only black person. Amazed that there is a black person who likes Jayzee and Bjork. Who went to a college that is different than what they think Is stereotypical. Upwardly mobile black families that are the only family in the community. They see black culture through the media, not through a black neighborhood. I talk about those kind of issues. I like to a lot of women and a lot of black gay guys, hip hop blogs, people I find interesting. Being around all you crazy blog people I’ve been changing my design. I used to have my entire bloglines list. Now just those I consider friends, those I know really well and regular reads, instead of all the tech and pop culture blogs I read.
George – I link to my friends and the people I know on AllAboutGeorge. The friends I make when I got to SXSW or travel to a different city. On Negrophile I link to everybody. Anarchists people of color, soul brothers, true southern bells, Black informants, BlackPundit, and the idea is to find everybody who I think should be in there and have them listed together. If you are going to put a bar, fellow sympathizers and box checkers. Because the point of this is because you are black that is not all you are. You are curious about and engage with other communities. That helps you become more YOU. That’s the whole point.
Tony to Jason – how come all black people on the Real World are bad guys.
(I stopped blogging for a few minutes to do my head count)
Authentic voice – Missed that too. OK it is hard to restart the fast transcription once you stop. We have segued into q&a.