2011, that’s when I started my first blog the now defunct “CostOfWork”. Back then I didn’t even know what a blog was. I also didn’t know what I was doing. My first few articles stunk! Wait, I am talking to black people, it “stank”. See what I just did, I changed my writing style which tends to play well to the majority aka white folks, to my folks, kinfolks… that’s a perfect example of Blogging While Black.
Maybe you have always been unapologetic and unfiltered in your writing, if so congrats and kudos. But for me, it was something that I had engrained in me as a young man. I am 44 now and a birthday coming up soon. (in my old man voice aka, my regular voice) “Back in my day”, you had to always be concerned about what white people think of you. Once I started going on job interviews at 15 years old, I had to make sure that I shaved (okay plucked) any facial hair and I had to wear a tie, even if it was for a shitty job.
Back then, having an earring, for a dude, was career suicide and don’t even ask about a f*cking tattoo. See there I go again, cussing (not cursing or using profanity) that was something that I did not do early on in my blogging career. I was so concerned that I would offend a someone who could possibly offer me a job opportunity or writing gig. Although there were plenty of main stream (white) writers in the HR space who used all kinds of curse words even some who made a living off of using the filthiest or words like (C You Next Tuesday). And was applauded for it.
Now had I, or any one the few black folk that I saw on Twitter blogging, said some shit like that, we would be hailed and nailed to the cross. Ever since I jumped on Twitter I have been looking for other black faces in the space. The white ones are everywhere – Twitter suggested them left and right. But blacks? There wasn’t many, I remember seeing Victorio Milian and then I noticed the Buzz on HR, aka Sarah Morgan the creator of the #BlackBloggerChallenge, and one of first black personalities I saw was Tiffany Kuehl. Slowly there were a couple of others Janine Truitt and Justin Harris.
All good people and good writers but even as we all got better and better, none of us were getting opportunities to blog for major sites like SHRM blog, that’s the HR professional development association – not to pick on them because HRCI, or HRA, or any of the major HR software companies hadn’t offered us any opportunities either. Not until recently have a few of them started to engage with black bloggers.
I wondered why? the only difference I saw was skin color because the content was there. But when blogging while black, some people tend to put you in a box – they expect you to talk about certain things (sports, entertainment, fashion, and music) only or they don’t understand your message. They say things like, “You don’t get enough hits.” or “You don’t have enough followers” without worrying about bots and fake followers – I digress.
Based on my experiences and what I’ve seen, here is my take and advice on blogging while black.
- If at all possible, don’t stop because when you stop, no matter how good you are, it gives folks an opportunity to question your commitment to the game.
- Think like Prince, he was my idol and he often said that he would never get the credit that he deserved as a guitarist, singer and song writer. Prince knew that he would never get credit he deserved from the masses so he didn’t do it for the credit, he did it for the culture. Do it for the culture.
- Next piece of advice, follow me here: People love to talk about the Top 5 rappers of all-time, in my generation there was BIGGIE, 2Pac, Nas, Jay-Z, Rahkim, and others, but today you have different names in that list, one of them is Lil Wayne. Look, if you don’t care for his music, fine – but here are some facts, he can rap his ass off, he’s been doing it for 15 years now, he’s prolific (more mix-tapes and guest spots then anyone) and he’s still relevant today. My point is, I believe you have to grind like Lil’ Wayne – keep doing dope shit!
- Look for opportunities to shine a light on others – just like what Sarah is doing with this challenge – find ways to help others. (we all we got)
- The last piece of advice is this – don’t worry about what anyone who you don’t respect or that doesn’t put money in your pocket say – just do you.
And have fun, but stay woke – black folks are hardcore, smart AF, and funny – we are a funny, so don’t be afraid to be playful sometimes but still…“letting a motherfu*ker” know.
Now go see Black Panther!