Friday, March 17, 2006

SXSW: Blogging While Black Revisited

Moderated by Lynne D. Johnson

Tiffany Brown
George Kelly
Tony Pierce
Jason Toney

The panel started with each panelists explaining what has happened to them in the intervening year since they were on the Blogging While Black panel last year. They each also described the results of a demographic survey they each (except Tony) did on their blogs pre-panel.

Not too surprisingly their audiences seem to be a lot like them, especially when it comes to being pretty well-educated and fairly aligned as far as income. Also unsurprisingly their audiences are not bothered when they talk race on their blogs. Their audiences are fairly split race- and gender-wise. A lot of 50/50 and at worst 60/40 splits. Tiffany does skew way more female, and Lynne does skew way more male. Lynne, in fact, wishes more women read her, btu since her topic is hip hop music, she can understand the reasons.

The panel was really engaging because the speakers were so smart, funny, engaging, open and, dare I even say it, articulate. There wasn't much of a set agenda for the panel, but truth be told, it didn'tmatter. Sometimes it's fun to just eavesdrop (and perhaps particiapte in) a really cool conversation. Some of the coolness that ensued:

-Someone in the audience asked why limit yourself by identifying and talking race. (Not so different from asking in the women's visibility panel why one would "limit" oneself by self-identifying as a woman.) The correct response: why do you equate racial identity or gender identity as a "limit" That implies that only white men are not limited by being so identified. Kinda icky when you think of it that way, no?

-Lynne: Although she may write like a journalist, she grew up in the Bronx and has authenticity on her subject. There are those who want to be the only voice for hip hop.

The issue came up about how to deal with flamers, haters, trolls:

George: You don't need to give eevrything in the world "oxygen."

Jason: Everything on the web has the same "weight" (and longevity.) If someone is lying about you isn't it important to correct that? Your silence lets the lie become the only reference.

Tony: He loevs it when haters visit. Heloevs to mix it up with them...pop 'em like a zit.

Tiffany: Doesn't want to be marginalized as an "angry black woman." Don't feed them the reaction they want.

Audience member Laina: Anger can fuel you (as per Henry Rollins.) Tiffany doesn't want to be dismissed. Laina asks if other blacks dismiss? Tiffany doesn't feel she gets that reaction from the black community.

Tiffany: Anger, when justified, is a good thing (Katrina example.) Anger in response to anger isn't.

Audience member Halley: "Google is forever."

Jason: Define "angry." There's a difference between assholes and heated discourse.

Laine: People make the assumption you're angry if you're strong or emphatic.

Tony: People are trying to write Hillary Clinton off by dismissing her as angry.

This resonated with me, as you could guessif you also read my personal blog.

Then there was the discussion of the term "well-spoken." Last year someone included that description of the panelists in her blog about the panel. The audience groaned, and the panel proceeded to paint even words such as "articulate" and "eloquent" with the same brush. Um, so how do I tell a black person I like their speaking skills and style? I use the word articulate all the time when I want to praise a speaker (see earlier in this post.)

Bonus part, though, was when the woman who blogged the "well=spoken" comment stood up and outed herself. Turns out she meant well-spoken for a *SXSW panelist*, not for a black person...apparently the panels last year were a bit stultifying and poorly prepared? Anyway, kudos to Cinnamon for standing up and taking her lumps, and to all of the panelists for letting her explain it really was praise not a back-handed compliment.

See, we ALL make assumptions.

Idealistic, optimistic white guy (self-described) in audience asks how he can help. Answer: link to them.

I made a comment that I wished people would understand that when we want to form identity-focused groups to participate in, it's to participate in in addition to mainstream groups, not instead of.

Jason rocks my world by saying he want to create something in the BlogHer model for bloggers of color.

Lynne closes by saying that she would also like to be asked to sit on panels because of her expertise.

So I promptly invited her (post-session) to team-teach the Day One web writing workshop at BlogHer with Lisa, and she agreed. :)

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