My friend over at The Critical Cleric had long since said that the black political blogosphere did nothing for him.
He went on to elaborate that many writers, he felt, didn’t give enough critical analysis of their own opinions and thoughts and generally just went off the cuff and went forward. At the time, about two years ago and some change when I first started blogging, I didn’t really agree with him, there were some blogs that I frequented enough and began reading and then I started to see just what he was talking about.
What I really began to take issue with, at least for me, was really the commenters.
We may assail the level of mean, evil and vile comments that get said over at the right wing blogs, but please believe let black folks get on the right (or maybe wrong) subject and it’s a wrap: we come out with teeth bared and chains and bats ready for an argument. And we write vile and mean comments to one another on the blog and it comes off as just outright and mean! What’s worse is that the authors of the various posts or blog sites let the commenters do it and get away with murder.
As any blogger who’s been around long enough knows that there is a common thread of commenters personalities. Just like a discussion in class; eventually you become adept at which commenters are going to chime in on certain posts and probably what their response is going to be. That’s fine, great even, but what happens when a new face comes in and leaves a comment? Does the established commenting community welcome them with open arms or do they treat them like the new kid on the playground and begin bullying them? I daresay that the latter goes on too much in the black blogosphere.
I believe, as I see it that the primary issue facing this borderline cyber-bullying from fellow commenters and the level of just nasty and mean and rude posts that bloggers publish is the inability for the black community to embrace and dialogue with diversified intellectual thought.
I know as blacks we run around claiming that we’re not monolithic as a people, and yes that’s even more true than it was 40 years ago, but still there exists a spectrum in which some ideas and thoughts are not even tolerated within the black community. For instance, the day I wrote this, there was a discussion in class concerning the ethics and morals of a case study for a class whereas a male professor was hitting on a female student who was his mentee. However, the professor had reasoned that because his life as he had known it was over because of two troubled children in and out of jail and a wife who had been stricken with hereditary early on-set Alzheimers he had not had sex in over a year. Well, I made the mistake of arguing that the marriage was indeed over because she had “died” in her mind and that I really saw nothing wrong with him having sex.
That was the wrong statement.
I was left to defend my opinion and seriously I pushed the envelope a bit because one brother, who much like commenters and their personalities responded in much the same way he always does. I argued the relativity of truth and thankfully he intelligently debated me. I still think I won that (lol) on the basis that I was not saying that the professor must push the boundaries of “marriage” as my opponent argued, but that if he so chose to, far be it for us to criticize him for “not being faithful.” My main argument toward him (and to whomever is reading this) was that I fully reject metanarratives that dictate that there is one main truth that superceedes any other truth. Truth is indeed contextual and relative to the situation.
I really wanted to go on and show him the pure fallacy of the argument just based on his life as a black male, living in the south, attending a United Methodist church etc etc, but alas, there wasn’t enough hours in the day.
So to black bloggers here’s some advice:
We can’t afford to do less than quality work. I’ve read some blog posts on some famous black blogs and the level of writing was absolute drivel. Sorry. It was subpar absolutely wretched. No, I’m not talking about black gossip websites like Concrete Loop or even other black bloggers who write on entertainment issues, but those of the self-professed political blogosphere. And no, I’m not talking about mere grammatical errors or even run-on sentences, but I’m talking about the hatred and violence that gets spewed not in the name of sarcasm and wit, but in the name of vitriols that are not words of love, but words of death.
When we write, we incite. Our words, particularly at those black blogs that have large followings and have comments in the 100+, we are influencing the consciousness of those readers. Our words carry weight and carry meaning. Many may sit back and say that we’re hiding behind a computer screen and we aren’t doing anything effective in our community, but please believe if anyone was so moved by what we read that they left a comment that means that our words have left such an imprint on their consciousness they felt compelled to respond. Which in turn probably means that what gets said is something they will integrate into their psyche and their behaviours.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentioned stories that I’ve read from either Average Bro, Citizen Ojo over at Desultory Life and Times, Negro Intellectual or The Black Snob just to name a few (as to not leave anyone out) whether I agreed or disagreed, but still even for me, they carried weight.
The comment section should not be used to abuse. And yes, I’m speaking from personal experience with a blogger from a famous blog (and you can check this link for background on that) decided to allow her commenters to berate me to no end. Seriously, I could have posted that “Obama was great” over at the National Review and gotten comments of the same caliber.
What is more disturbing is that these commenters support the foolishness.
We, as black bloggers, complain about how dumb the American public is, but really it’s a “pot calling the kettle black” situation. Black folks in barbershops and beautyshops can be just as daft and dense when it comes to politics.
And don’t mention Tavis Smiley around some black people.
The comment section should be used for discourse not destruction. And to fellow commenters, we need to embrace opposing opinions. Again, from personal experience, just because I sided with Tavis Smiley and his whole position on holding elected officials accountable, does not give commenters the right to lamb-baste me and it certainly doesn’t give a blogger the right to call me out just for a differences of opinions.
Some black women bloggers need to be okay with black male bloggers being men. Personally, I’m tired of hearing the beefs that happen between black male and female bloggers. Every time I look up someone is falling out with a black female blogger. Even myself, a few months back last fall, fell out with a well respected female blogger (who is still on my blogroll though) over the whole Chris Brown and Rihanna incident. And two other male bloggers have told me of their recent falling out with other female bloggers.
Speaking for myself, I got the impression that somehow their femininity or maybe their womanness superceded my male perspective and opinion. Well, is that not the same reverse hegemony that you’re accusing me of practicing? And for myself, I can clearly say that my opinion was not a result of male chauvinism or anything of the like, but yes, I speak as a male. And let me be perfectly clear, I unapologetically and unashamedly speak from a male perspective. But, just because I speak from my man-ness does not give black woman bloggers the right to berate me as such because they wouldn’t want me to do the same to them. Feel free to disagree, that’s how both of us are stretched, but don’t go on some childish rant and tell me about how all black men are fools and are dogs and of the like…no wonder some of y’all are single.
Yes. I said it. And I meant it.
At the risk of sounding cliched, these above instances are just some of what we can all do to help keep the black blogosphere a powerhouse. As always, we must, let me repeat myself, we must produce quality and intelligent work, particularly those who consider themselves a part of the black political blogosphere. When we produce foolishness, it will follow us and I’m sure that’s no one’s intent when they began blogging. This means stop the personal attacks. Your beef should be with the persons ideas, not their being. When you call someone else “fat and nasty” or outright “stupid” then we’ve crossed the line and made character assassinations. And since there is no context in text, we can’t afford to do that.
We’ve got to do better.
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL