by j. brotherlove
It sucks that an experience I cherish has gotten misappropriated and dragged through the virtual mire by select individuals. Now that my buddies have weighed on on the wayward criticism of this year’s Blogging While Black Revisited (BWBR) panel at SXSW, I feel comfortable adding my flavor to the pot.
My first inclination was to raise holy hell in defense. However, I know smart, articulate people who can speak for themselves. So I chilled for a bit, choosing not to comment on the detractors’ pages because I have nothing constructive to add. Besides, I don’t believe they even seek an honest, on-topic exchange (I could be wrong about one of them). In any case, the feedback was not constructive.
I want to clarify a few things about SXSW and the BWBR panel from my point of view; especially, since others who did not attend have strong opinions. Don’t look too hard for links because they’re aren’t any. I don’t link to flame posts to fuel them.
I won’t run down the history of SXSW, you can check that yourself. Suffice it to say, it’s a huge event with three tracks: Interactive, Film and Music. I attended the Interactive track (of which, BWBR was a panel). Most people who attend Interactive are involved with web development, content creation or online communities in some way. And most of them are white men.
I attended SXSW because I am a progressive designer, creator and developer of new media and web environments (I don’t talk about that much but, that’s about to change). It just so happens, I have friends who are journalists, designers or interactive content developers, as well. Some of them are black and attend SXSW. Great! None of us, however, attend SXSW because we are black.
A description of the Blogging While Black Revisited panel:
“A renewed assessment of identity bloggers’ reaction to, response from and engagement with the blogosphere.”
Nothing more or less. There was never an intention for the panelists to represent a “fair cross-section of black bloggers” or to be anything other than who they are. With that said, I can totally understand why some people just don’t get it (or even want to get it), especially out of context (“Who do they think they are?”, “They take blogging too seriously.”) That’s par for the course. Besides, flaming people (vs. engaging them) helps to raise your hit count. Oldest trick in the blogging book.
I did glean one, non-personal observation of the panel. The argument about fair representation is extremely valid. But it was discussed at length throughout the conference. There are a variety of reasons why more black people don’t attend SXSW or sit on panels. There are several ideas on how to change the situation. Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you weren’t there.
Furthermore, attacks and assumptions about people’s personality, sexuality, intent or financial status, is well… sloppy at best. However, not surprising when I consider the source. But it’s all good; these tactics only deepen my ability to dismiss the rest of the content. If any of us are truly interested in joining forces, reaching a broader audience, and helping each other in this online world, we’re going to have to do better job of interacting.
The biggest thing for me is, if the audience had a different racial makeup, the panel would have had a different tone and focus.
I’m not above criticism. I would love to be challenged on the assumptions I asserted or for someone to vehemently disagree with one of my points.
But ya gotta be there to do that.
It’s amazing the different view of those in the room vs. those who weren’t even in Austin about the quality of discourse.
And since the whole subtext of our discussion was “Audience, Voice and Language”, if we didn’t talk about those things we wouldn’t have had much to talk about.
With regard to everyone that bicthed about it, it just sounds like sour grapes to me. People mad because they weren’t “represented”. Shit, sometimes in order to be represented, you gotta do it yourself. How do I know you’re relevant if you choose to be absent?
Guess this is a good time to address people who leave off-topic, childish or inflammatory comments without a valid email/web address…
Um yeah, I delete those, playa. Have something of substance to say or don’t say anything at all.
I just got finished watching the video of the panel discussion (can’t believe I actually sat and did that) and I found it to be engaging and enlightening.
Haters who want to mouth off, particularly if they post comments to your blog, should be ignored and deleted.