Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why Do We Do What We Do?: A Question for the Black Blogger

So, on yesterday I wrote that there were two occurrences over the winter break which caused me to sit down and seriously assess and reassess the motivations and reasons behind some of my actions and activities. I presented you with one then. I shall present you with another now.

The weekend before Christmas I attended a birthday party for a member of my wife’s family. During a discussion with some of the attendees, the conversation turned to my blog. I was pretty much surprised that this particular group even had knowledge of it. However, it seemed that they had actually read a post here and there, and they were supportive of my efforts.

But then came the question. It didn’t surprise me because I could see the conversation heading in that direction. How much money do you make from blogging?

Of course I had to answer nothing, not one red cent, which seemed to surprise them because for some reason they seemed to have believed me to be raking in money hand over foot. And then came the inevitable question: “Then why do you do it? You seem to invest a considerable amount of time and energy in blogging, but it makes no sense to put that much time in something that pays you nothing.”

As I set at home during the winter break, this question returned to my mind again and again.

However, during the winter break I began a special project. Wayne Hicks of The Electronic Village and the AfroSpear blog think tank and network had been keeping the Black Blog Rankings (BBR) which ranked blogs owned and operated by African Americans. However, because of changes in the rating system at Technorati, he decided to discontinue the BBR. I asked could I pick up where he left off, and he graciously gave me permission.

During the break, I speak quite a few hours combing through about 1,700 blogs as I verified their URLs, and transferred them to a new rating system. From time to time, I came across the original AfroSpear blogs, some of which dated back to as early as 2006 [see The History of the AfroSpear].

What I found was a group of intrepid of men and women from various backgrounds representing various schools of thought and political affiliations who had nothing in common but the melanin in their skins and a unique voice and perspective that would not be denied, that could and would not be silenced or marginalized.

And from their earliest beginnings, the group sometimes spoke softly and individually; at other times they combined their voices until the pitch reached a cacophonic roar. Through their blogs, they argued and debated the various issues affecting the people of the African Diaspora, always with an eye toward definite and pronounced progress.

These voices gradually built to a crescendo which peaked around the election of President Barack Obama. Then gradually many of these original voices began to exit the stage as they pursued other endeavors and followed other avenues.

Now, as I check the black blogosphere, the number of black owned and operated blogs has grown by leaps and bounds. The number of African American owned and operated blogs grows each day. Additionally, many black owned and operated sites are moving upward into the rarified air of the upper reaches of the blogosphere with unprecedented reach and influence.

Also, at this time I find the gossip, hip-hop, and pop culture sites dominating the rankings. But that doesn’t mean that I do not believe there is a place in the black blogosphere for these sites; all voices are important and have a place.

However, I do look forward to a resurgence of those booming voices, new and old, that are willing to reach across the imaginary lines of color, class, gender, political affiliation, and whatever else divides as, in constructive and productive conversation and debate as we work toward uplifting brown and black peoples.

So, maybe I have managed to answer my own question. Maybe I have sat here and written and revised long enough until I have answered my own query. I blog because I feel I have something to say. I feel that I have a voice that is like none other. And with that voice I can sometimes speak in dulcet tones of compassion, forgiveness, and empathy, and at other times, I can speak in loud, bellowing tones of rage and disbelief.

And some days many others drop by to hear which voice I use while other days those that pass through are few. And some days many compliment me on my voice for that day and even stop to engage me in conversation while other days I get no feedback at all.

But nonetheless, this is my voice. This is my platform. This is why I do it. But the question then becomes, why do you do it?


Anna Renee said...

How are you today Soulbrother? We bloggers blog so as to use our voices and effect change or rant or encourage or inspire or whatever. Not all things of value have a money equivalent. Right now I'm juggling three blogs and almost went to four but reigned myself in. For me, a previously voiceless person with tons to say, this blogosphere is a Godsend! Now don't let those loving family members who don't understand you get you down. If it makes no sense then there are gazillion millions of us senseless ones! Count me in as one of those intrepid ones! I was on Mr Eze's blog and nearly had a nervous breakdown! He was able to calm me down ! Have a blessed day, and I'll check in on you later!

Denisha said...

I too blog for no other reason but to have a platform to say how I feel, what I think, or announce how I feel about blah blah blah. It's truly sad to only do something for money. It's equally sad to not have anything you can fathom doing just because you love it and want to do it. What are those people passionate about??

Foxy Brown said...

i do it for several reasons:

i saw a need for it. (as a black, lesbian, minister there is a void in the world that is just not being filled)

i had something to say

i was looking for a community of like minded folks

i felt led to do it

Emerge Peoria said...

I am in Peoria, Illinois where racism and elitism is rampant. It is almost to the point that it is embarrassing for a black person to say they live in this City. Peoria’s black community has a group of Jessie Jackson era “black leaders” who have their foot on the back of our proverbial necks. The divide between the haves and the have nots is vast and growing daily.

I blog, because I am the only person like me in the Peoria blogosphere. I am the only voice that is trying to give a true portrayal of the black experience in Peoria, Illinois.

Kim said...

I don't have any deep reasonings, political or socially. I just like to share things that I find interesting or entertaining.

RainaHavock said...

Same as Kim

Danny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danny said...

Sorry about the delete but I didn't finish the comment and my pc froze.

Personally I blog because of the many reasons already listed.

1. Like many other men I see that there are things that harm men as a class and these things need to be addressed.

2. Chances are I have a fairly unique voice and perspective. I mean really how many fat black guys of questionable sexuality that are into anime, video games, and nearly all music but country and doesn't like being expected to choose race or gender as if they never intersect can there be?

3. There are many things I find entertaining and I want to share.

4. Recently I started cooking again and I want to share my ideas.

and so on and so on...

You say you got permission to pick up where the BBR left off does that mean you are posting the results somewhere?

The Smoking Ace said...

Well I blog for three reasons.

1. I like to put my thoughts in my head on pad and pen (and sometimes a keyboard).

2. I don't know anybody yet, but I am literally the only black blogger that really live in the country part of Central-Western part of Mississippi. I like to take those stereotypes in Mississippi and show that their is more to my state that what people see in a movie.

3. I am just a brother that like to analyze.

Sometimes people hear me, and other times it fall on deaf ears. The whole point is there is a lot of things that goes on in Mississippi than some special on obesity.

RiPPa said...

Man I'm just gonna be honest. Other than being an attention whore. Blogging has filled the void for social interaction. If I could change the world by just a milliliter as James Baldwin said by writing, then I guess that's a plus.

uglyblackjohn said...

I have more questions than answers.
Since the Internet enables us to "talk" to people outside of our everyday encounters - it is a resource of almost unlimited feedback.

md20737 said...

I blog because I have something to say. I blog because I enjoy writing and I have found others that enjoy writing and share some of my views. I have found others who dont share my views but enjoy the conversation.
I love to talk to people and blogs generate convo that otherwise would be you heard that new lil wayne lol I really enjoy the variety of thoughts I am privy to by reading blogs. I have learned through others experiences and I hope someone can learn from mine.

Renee said...

I live in a very small town and there are few people interested in the things that I am. Being a woman of color also has its own set of special issues. Blogging allows me to have conversations I would not otherwise have had and allows me an emotional outlet regarding things that bother me.
The other main reason I blog is because I feel that the internet is going to form the basis of the next big shift in social change. If Blacks do not actively participate we will be left behind. As it is White blogs are already far more successful than Black blogs and this gap will only widen if we do not work actively.

ProfGeo said...

Hard question, as I've just been blogging as the urge overcomes me. BTW please consider doing a follow-up on what we don't blog about-- what do we write about (or want to) that we don't post? Anyway... I would say I blog for a few reasons:

1) To attempt (in vain?) to recapture the social (or "social") interaction that I originally got from e-mail lists. I miss some of that.

2) To test the medium as an outlet for self-publishing, public journaling, and creativity, and to get a little feedback from people I don't really know.

3) To prove a point. The "we are not a monolith" point, at least.

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

I started mine after getting my heart I'm quite sure my girls were tired of me talking about it, heck, I was too. I had no idea what to expect or even if it would be read but things took off and I found it to be a good way to express myself and get a few things off my chest. I think it's hard for non-bloggers to understand, sort of like Twitter, either you get it or don't.

~ Melzie

Reggie said...

I do it to be heard I guess. This is one vice that we can have that isn't necessarily detrimental to us. It beats the hell outta drinking and clubbing.

I do it because I'd like as many people as possible to know what an obnoxious son of a bitch I am!!!

Oh yeah....and to interact with people like you and RiPPa and Kim and so many other great bloggers.

LoudPen said...

1. I blog because I feel that I have a voice to share with the world.

2. Also, I started my blog as a means to improve my writing.

3. Like Rippa, I am an attention whore who needs immediate feedback.

4. I'm glad I don't do it for the money (right now anyways) because I can blog like I want when I want. If I were to sell ads, I'd probably have to start blogging for advertisers so I may lose some of my originality. In essence, it'll be a long time coming b4 ads are posted on my blog.

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