Blogging while Black panel at SXSWi
Moderator: Lynne D. Johnson - http://www.lynnedjohnson.com/diary/
GM of new media for Spin magazine
What has blogging while black mean to you since last year?
Jason Toney. Negroplease.com. I questioned whether I even wanted to have that site anymore or close it down. Have weird issues with privacy online... in Dec. I decided important to represent identity online space as well as offline personality. now negroplease also equals jasontoney, online. People of color's identities online.
George Kelly. allaboutgeorge.com and negrophile.com. In September, won first black weblog awards. Best news political site, and a lifetime achievement award. *laughter* Kill me now. *laughter* Issues about acclaim in accademy awards. I've been nominated for best tagline... It was something to get two black weblog awards. It meant that people who were reading me looked to me to have some useful authority. There's a tension between representing yourself and speaking for that community as a voice of authority. To get that wind at your back is really good. I started working as a reporter, after being a copyeditor for 4 years. Some things about that made me think about how I approach my blog. But also made me think about wanting to be personal. I wanted to be a negro after meeting Jason Toney! And after meeting Aaron. The only people to use the word "negro" online... [except for white supremacists... joke...]
Tiffany B. Brown. Webinista, blackfeminism.org - Also culturedwino.com but I've been slacking on that one. To continue this identity blogging conversation. Went to BlogHer in July. People are really interesting in having spaces where we can discuss our similarities and differences.
Tony Pierce. busblog.com community manager at buzznet. Buzzblog, Thought mechanics. Since our last panel, my mom was really proud. She was like "you don't even tell people you're black." How do you prove it, show your family pictures?? *laughter* What I noticed was my hits come up to see if I was the angry black man (that I think my mom would like me to be) some people called me a race-baiter. There was some discussion of that, what does it mean to blog as a black man... not trying to stir up controversy for the sake of controversy! There was that conversation about why I don't date black women. [Liza Sabater cracks up in the back of the room & everyone looks. "Then that stopped when I made out with a black woman." Liza yells "and it wasn't me!" *laughter* Lynne: and no pictures of black women... Tony: Well I was at a college where the One Hundred Black Men club didn't even have 100 black men in it. I think my pictures were of who I was around.
Lynne Johnson: I should speak about what happened in the last year. I got to do a room of your own at BlogHer. Called Feminist Hip Hop Bloggers. Some bloghers are here... it was cool to do that. There are not a lot of women blogging about hiphop. It turns out the majority of my readers are male. And black. College educated with advanced degrees. The main reason they read me is that the topic matter interests them. I'm about half and half on whether racial identity is important to them.
Who is your audience?
Jason Toney: about half of my readers answered my poll. 50% are black. That shocked me adn I thought it was high. In my real world most of the people I interact with me aren't black. 60% were women. I am single. *laughter* Vast majority were in about my same economic range, making the same amount of money I make. College educated, 75-80% advanced degrees. They like my writing and my topics or they think I'm cute and funny or funny or cute, or some combination... only 1 respondent said they would rather not know my race. 60% said that knowing my race affected how they read my blog, it gives them context in the offline world for what we're talking about.
Lynne - Did anyone say talking about race made them uncomfortable?
George - most 25-39, gender 61% female. Race 59%black. 30% white. Asian, biracial... "spiritual-nonaffiliated. " half were college graduate, 24% with advanced. income, about what I make. Why do they read them? 37% interesting topics... writing... or because of race ... or because they've met me offline. 3% said out of habit. *laughter8* I will be hunting them down. Racial identity was not important, 53% 25% yes it was. At negrophile, many more said it was important. They don't mind knowng my race. 90+ people responded.
Tiffany B. Brown - for me, no surprises, slight majority black, followed by white. Most of the people I interact with on the blogosphere who leave comments are white, so I was like, hey all these black people are reading my blog, kinda cool. The vast majority 80% were women.
Tony Pierce - (I missed this)
white guy from audience - How did doing the poll, knowing that, affect what you write?
George - (mock serious) I stopped doing my blog. *laughter*
Toney - It made me think about the language I use, appropriate language, whether I need to explain things... or whether I can throw out an angry missive and come back later and explain things. I used to think my audience was mostly white.
Lynne Johnson - I personally wish I had more women reading me. Because I write about hiphop and technology... Unless all the women in this room start reading me... *applause* I know you link to me *to Halley Suitt* all the time... Halley: Hell I write about hiphop and no one links to ME. *laughter* Lynne: I wonder if I write in some ways in a male voice?
George: My audience is heavily canadian college kids because I knew a Canadian pop star.
Tiffany: I write in Standard English more than Black Vernacular English. When I was writing for just a few people... [I missed this]
Meri: Do you get flack for not using BVE... I'm from South Africa and I went to a mixed school and I'd get hassled for talking white.
Tiffany: Not at all. Whatever voice you use, that's what people accept. When i use BVE it adds to authenticity, people like that "flavor".
Jason: When I first started, I didn't think anyone was reading and I would switch back and forth according to the subject matter. when talking about hiphop or my own racial identity discovering and depending on what i was talking about it woudl get real black. But on web software, cartoons or comic books not to do with black culture per se, that language didn't seem necessary for me... but other people would ask me why I was talking so bougie. [bourgeois] *laughter* Well, cause I *am* (laughter) question from email from my about page... "why do you lower yourself to limit yourself by race" and it's been a long time since I've bothered to answer that question. As if somehow it's a limitation or somehow all my interests are limited by race...
Lynne: In the past a friend said to me, "you write like a jouranlist so that alienates a lot of people. " well I am a journalist! there's been questions of my authenticity of m y being a hiphop person. since i grew up in the bronx... There was a serious beef with... a guy. I flipped some lyrics from TI and said, no doubt it's all good y'all just statin your own opinion...i'm a queen, just respect it and keep your name outcha your mouth".. it drove the dude to call me Lesbo Johnson, and had the balls to tell me to keep my name out of her mouth. Now, i left it there and in the spirit of hiphop, i could have *screams of laughter* But I took the high road. The guy never responded...
Jason: I'm tempted to give the url of the guy Lynne is talking about... but not really... and he years ago faked an email from this other hiphop journalist, an asian journalist, calling him a n****** . and this made me start thinking about citizen journalism. The question of whether this blogger whose url I won't say, was he black or white or what? He makes a lot of really racist prejudiced comments. He makes petitions about Kanye West... So now this person who is a public journalist has to defend himself against this... this is an issue with identity blogging.
Lynne: Did you have any runins with the blogger we shall not name?
Meri: It's like harry potter. *laughter*
George: I did not want to dignify it. I don't think you have to give oxygen to everything in the world to breathe.
Jason : It was mentioned on the women's visibility on the web panel today - democritization - every piece of info on the web has the same weight. There's no value put on it... if you come to a web site where someone says something about you and it's not true? isn't it important to [contradict it?] old wives tales, mythology, rumor, to become factual very quickly. People still think Tommy Hilfinger said something racist on Oprah, when he's never even been on the show. when it's on the web where it can live forever, isn't there some responsibility to provide the true information. when you stay silent then HIS text becomes the only information available.
George: maybe i'm coming at that bec of my tempranment, from who I am as a journalist. Balance, and the crock that that is. There is no balance. The best media can hope for is balanced represetnation that acknowledges privilege but also circumstances. That knowlege affects how I blog. And news items at negrophile. I balance my own experience with my obligation to my communities. It's negrophile not negronegro, it's about people who give a damn about black people. Other people who blog aren't always going to be on point about that. I have an obligation to be a journalist, tell my story, educate others, if someone is violating community norms, if someone is showing their ass, i retain the right to ... to let them. To let it alone. *laughter*
Tony: I am not such a gentlemen as George. there are two things you cna do with a zit. let it alone or squeeze it. Haters are usually terrible writers. I am blessed by god to be a good writer so I take a sledgehammer to that zit.
George: You called yourself a horrible writer just the other day. You are not a horrible writer.
Tony: I've said a lot of stupid things in the past. But for example, the AP photos of black people looting and white people finding. i knew there woudl be a hundred comments...
George: Tiffany.. you were on public square and private...
Tiffany: We talked about anger. My preferred approach is just to be civil. and when they are looking to provoke you, if you get mad you're doing what they want. I was a journalist... I don't want to be seen as the angry black woman. you never know what that will mean for you professionally.
Laina Dawes : My blog is writing is fighting. Tiffany I wanted to ask you about that stereotype of the angry black woman. Henry Rollins just said being an angry white man fuels him.
Tiffany: There's the key, he's an angry white man. People love that. They don't love it when you're an angry woman.
Laina - Do you feel like other blacks may dismiss you, like for example, very angry post about hurricane katrina... you might throw in some mofos or whatever. Would people dismiss you for NOT being angry?
Tiffany " No. When anger is justified I think people understand it much better. Wait. Let me parse my words much more carefully and restate the point. I think anger when justified is a good thing. Anger in presonse to a... anger in response to Hurricane Katrina is justified, right, etc. Anger in response to someone calling you a bitch in your comments, and you call them an asshole....[that's the unproductive kind of anger]
Halley : Google is forever... forget diamonds.
Jason: We need to define the term angry. I think there's a difference between heated discourse and assholes. People say asshole things who I delete and ban and say goodbye to. Other people come and disagree and we have a heated discussion. I'm not personally an angry person. One of my favorite people [the late] Aaron Hawkins was angry by design. To get under white people's skin. uppity negro. Conservatives wanting to question if he was black in the first place, and to be angry and educated and over their heads and kickass. In that context anger all the time is alright wiht me. [YEAH!!!]
Woman in audience: jason says he's not an angry person. Being emphatic and strong as a woman, you come off as angry even if you're not "really"... and probably as a black person and as a black woman. and some people will do that.
Tony: people are calling hilary clinton angry. are those the people I want to worry about? i don't care then.
Kit - from Portland. have you gotten any feedback from readers to say "your post changed my point of view" or "i thought nobody understood that..."
JJason: i get that all the time. absolutely. particularly from young black high school and college readers. When I talk about black pop culture and I don't get something or don't like the way somethhing was percieved.
Lynn: I remember last year when we came and people wrote about and were surprised that I was "well spoken" *uncomfortble laughter* a lot of us had to educate people about using that phrase. she said thank you... and she claimed she didn't mean it... black woman in audience: "and what did she mean then..." Lynn: exactly.
Tiffany: I don't have a problem with someone telling me I'm well spoken. because they usually mean eloquent or articulate.
Lyn:; well then they can say articulate then.
Tiffany;[[ ] ]
tiffany: well if people think I'm articulate thank you.
black guy in front row: radio show... didn't catch his name... first of all happy to see some black men in texas not on death row. *laughter*
comedian... got peopel in deli to come to my show. and they were nice and came, and they just didn't get it. and they wrote me and accused me of thinking all white people were jerks and pigs and i was anti-semiitic but I was hitting them with a sledgehammer that was a sponge. a spongehammer! and people snipe but people don't get the joke. Second, how did you guys find each other and it's SO nice to meet black bloggers!!!
Jason: I respond and don't get a response and then i just go read myown words
Tiffany: hate mail saying that i hate black men. and i wrote an faq and say yes i hate black men including my father, my brother adn my boyfriend. that preemptively helps.
Lynn: how did we meet? it starts with george. Everything comes from georee.
Jason: he's the original negro. australopithicus negro.
George: actualy we all met here.
Tiffany: i met george in berkeley in 2004
Pierce: I hate when people suck up to me. I prefer when people are real and honest even if pissing me off. I love GG Allen who would actually poop in his hand and thorw it out in the audience. i lvoed that. I didn't go to too many GG Allen shows, but... *laughter* but when things get a little bit nervous for me, I htink jeez, what would GG do? and i think i get more respsect and hits backfrom that. if you keep it real... people respect that. if they think you're sucking up...
Cinnamon cooper - I'm the one who wrote the well spoken comment. *laughter, applause, woooooo!ing* I had just been to so many panels stupid, boring, moderators fumbling around, until blogging while black. and that was the first one that was good. everyone was well spoken, i understood everything and wanted to report on it.
Meri: so, you meant, well spoken for south by southwest panelists. *huge applause, laughter*
Lynn: so you learned something from that and we learned something from you...
Jason: a lot of people forget that on the web just like real life we make assumptions. we assume we know something about how people are reading a situation... i have to read what happens through the filter of my own mind. we need identity, that's why identity is really important on the web. we get angry. we don't know who wer're reading, we make assumptions
halley: i'm a blogger but i'll always be known as a woman blogger. do you guys think you'll always be known as black bloggers? is there an audience we're responsible to, who we are, how we write? or screw it? I thought my audience was all men but i found out a lot were women because ... they're reading me because i'm a woman
tiffany: risk of being pigeonholed ... being a writer who writes about blackness. vs. just bein a black person who blogs.
guy: didn't catch it... Went to see David Chapelle... what we have in common are we are not like our audiences. we do not look like the people who come to see us. people who reads me, they're reading me to find out about what they don't know. on the other hand i'm writing a book about being a gen x jew. and I'll be pretty pissed if no jews read it.
George: cultural production. Chapelle.... [missed this]
not just coffee house dudes and white chicks recognize quality... but on the other hand they can recognize quality too.
Irina: what happens when people show their ass in your own community? and what do you do? what happens? george; i guess we're still working it out. how we deal with it when people transgress. or what transggression is tiffany: the black blogosphere is very diverse. Liza : non-yankee negros. puerto rican.
Tiffany: kenyan, canadian, etc. we havne't developed community norms because the community is so diverse. we're just as diverse as white bloggers are. there's no defined rules of engagement...
tony: i don't criticisze black people witih a sledgehammer on my blog. however barry bonds or condy rice are not going to stay on that list for long
liza sabater: black people of dubiosity.
Tony: [If Lashawn Barber and Little Green Footballs post on the same thing I am more likely to attack LGF.]
White guy in audience: we white guys who are naive and idealistic. what can i do to help empower black bloggers?
tiffany: link to us.
jason: we have to be proactive. I was inspired by BlogHer last year...
george: i have enjoyed the fruits of beingt treated not like a black person but like a blogger, someone who likes a gadget or likes a wiki installed on his laptop. someone who gets invited toa web conference. power and dominion and all that stuff. that is where idealism works best when you turn it to the difficult work of recognizing people's humanity. you turn it to an out of browser experience.
elisa camahort - identity communities not instead of, but in addition to. remind everyone who feels like the other. it's all in addition to, it's more.