Tag Archives: identity politics

Cornel West Talks Newark, Cory Booker, & Youth Engagement [VIDEO]

1 Oct

Cornel West (Image: Manolomen.com)

Cornel West (Image: Manolomen.com)

This week in NYC is like Woodstock for activists, educators, and politicians.  There’s so much going on from a domestic violence workshop to a film screening on Rethink Afghanistan.

Starting things off, last night had the opportunity to attend Cornel West’s Barnes & Noble event in Midtown.  Brother West was there to introduced his latest book Living and Loving Out Loud, a Memoir and rap a bit with the folks.

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On Being A Writer: The Jezebel Epiphany

18 Jun

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Now we reflect.

One of the most important things I ever learned in graduate school was that a sistah always needs to reflect, if not only for herself, but for our collective consciousness and for our worlds around us.  Call it the Humanity Sustainability Project, if you will.

A few days ago I sent a personal email to the Senior Editor of Jezebel.com about a recent post, Tracie Egan, a Jezebel blogger wrote entitled “Why Is Mary J. Blige Working With Chris Brown?”  This was the first time I ever felt the need to email a website Editor expressing my concern about one of their posts.  Needless to say, the Senior Editor never wrote back but the author and her Managing Editor did (although, I’m inclined to believe that the Senior Editor was certainly privy to all of the “intense” correspondences).

If you’re on Facebook, then you can read all about the drama HERE, along with some incredibly insightful responses from friends and readers.

Without rehashing the entire scenario, what basically happened was I called out Tracie’s last few sentences of her post because I felt she, along with others at Jezebel, put themselves in a dangerous position by perpetuating (and therefore enabling) incendiary rhetoric created by crappy websites that rely heavily upon speculative rumors simply for “clicks.” Basically, Jezebel gave credence to a website who’s in the business of starting shit so there will be shit.  Good for some, but in my opinion, not a good look for Jezebel.

Needless to say, Tracie said she was “offended and hurt” by my complaints (even though I never directly accused her of being culturally naive about African-Americans like she said in the email) but I did apologize for writing to her Senior Editor instead of her, first.  The Managing Editor, with her fine word-smithing, basically thanked me for the email but ended up giving me the virtual and subtle talk-to-the-hand motion and moved on.

Remember people are at different places.

If anything, I hoped to open a dialogue, despite feeling admittedly defensive at first.  Hoped that at least the gals over at Jezebel would’ve updated (not erased or deleted) the original post by including links to other perspectives, or inserted qualifying language so that those of us who felt slighted by the borderline dangerous assumption could in the very least appreciate Tracie’s intent.

Remember people are at different places.

Now that all of the internal screaming has simmered (because, like it or not, I chose this battle), I’ve had time to do some reflecting.

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

And in reflecting about this ordeal, I learned a few things – even if no one else did.

I learned that I’m a helluva nit picky reader.

I learned that as careful a reader I am I have to be even more careful as a writer.

I learned that it’s so important to cite, not just accurately, but responsibly.

I learned that while others assume, so do I.

I learned that apologies are necessary because as we know from the David Letterman/Sarah Palin fiasco, Letterman’s apology said more about our country’s consciousness than it worked to ignite Sarah Palin’s seemingly calculated defensiveness.  It helped the Cause for a more ‘just’ society than Palin’s misguided faux feminism shtick ever would.  It indicated what progress perhaps looks like.  As in maybe our culture is graduating from lame 12-year-old “ya motha’s a slut, ya dawta’s a whore” jokes – and has actually developed a more sophisticated sense of humor and appreciation for irony.  See, I was hoping that the Jezzies, like Dave, would understand that acknowledging your errors is characteristic of progress.  No, it’s not a cop out, no it doesn’t make you look foolish, and no it doesn’t mean you lose your feminist-leaning-cool-liberal-website card because you got called out on your own assumptions, rhetoric, allies, and privileges.  It just means you’re wrong, but being wrong can be orgasmic if you let it.

I learned that being empowered is a pretty awesome feeling, even if it means showing my balls (or my ovaries?) when calling out another female blogger with whom I like for the most part.

I learned that I’m pretty lucky to have all this time on my hands to complain, write, and then think about what I just complained and wrote about.  Imagine if we, the Manys, had more time to develop our minds, rhetoric, and visions.  I think that in our little worlds, we’d single-handedly save ourselves from ourselves.

I learned that dialogue works much better than defensiveness.  After posting what happened on my Facebook page, I found the comments from women of all colors and backgrounds were profoundly helpful in that it made me understand what developing perspective is all about.  This is what I was hoping for when I requested that the Jezebel writers update the post about Chris Brown and the “other woman.”  The pot of ideas flow when people with all type of perspectives and experiences find that their words are acknowledged in a public space.

In that same vein, I learned this, with the help of Arvind, Aura, Melissa, Patricia, Brenda, Carla, Courtney, Necole, and Leopold:

Being a thoughtful and visionary writer is not simply about being a mindful spell checker, or fact checker, or even word smith.  It’s about being able to express yourself with a developed brevity that relies upon always rethinking our assumptions, rhetoric, allies, and privileges.  Because in the end, we must always remember that people are at different places.

Hopefully the Jezebel gals agree.

(The italicized words aren’t my own but from Aura, Courtney, and Patricia.  Thank you, ladies, and all the other FB commenters for helping me develop my on-going and ballsy perspectives).