"Could you ever find the love that you would not place yourself above?" - 22-20s, Shoot Your Gun
We had a well stacked audience again. I hope we shut up more this year. Last year, we talked a lot. It was our first time on stage and we felt like we had a whole lot to say so there wasn't much room for questions or interaction. This year, we wanted to let people talk to us, talk with us, talk at us if need be. It worked. I still worry that I might have talked too much and that my college diversity programming leadership training kicked in and I tried to lead the discussion instead of letting the amazing Lynne D Johnson do her thing. If I was a blabbermouth, I apologize.
There's an unedited transcript by Liz Henry at badgerbag (Liz was awesome by the way on her panel today and I want the chance to talk to her more about tags, folksonomies and other "softly viral" tools that bloggers can use to become more accessible) and a wonderful write up by Kevin Lawver at ultranormal. I won't hold it against him that he likes the negrophile seemingly more than this old negro because he talks about feelings and when does a man ever really do that?
No one asked me about my "Shut up, Honky" shirt or Tiffany about her "I *heart* black people" baseball tee. I kind of wanted to have that conversation.
We did, however, talk a lot about language and audience and voice and the importance of identity online. Last year, I was on the fence about the importance of identity on the web. As I said today, I have privacy concerns. In the offline world, I'm a very private man and have struggled with what my verbosity online means for my personal & professional relationships in the "real" world. I've come to grips with that, though. I don't want a job that would be uncomfortable with the content of my blog. I'm willing and ready to defend or talk about things I've written about my family and friends on this blog and if i'm not, please read the blogger's disclaimer and cram to understand.
There were great questions about how knowing who my audience is might now change the way I write and about Black vernacular English. There was discussion of angry words and online beef and the differences in responsibility and protection between the citizen journalist and the media professional. Aaron Hawkins's name was invoked again and I was honored to be able to speak loudly and proudly about his voice, spirit and uppitiness in the presence of Dru and Irina Slutsky (who eulogized Aaron at Red Herring) .
I have to admit that when I met Dru yesterday, I was caught a little off guard. My connection to her, which has waned since his death, will forever be linked to him and a lot of "stuff" came rushing back. It has been a pleasure to be able to see her and get to know her more offline and to begin to build a new relationship that moves past Aaron.
Bonus: Dru has a great liveblog of the panel as well.
But anyway, I still have pretty much a whole week here in Austin but I've already started to think about some things differently. I want to do a lot more for web professionals of color. Blogher and it's power and presence has really inspired me. I want similar tools, resources and community for those who look like me but don't show up here or at eTech or CES or at barcamps or the other places where smart folks like us should be. Not only for the professional connections it affords us but simply because it is a good time, it is an opportunity to collaborate and learn and because I'm guessing, based on a lot of the conversations I've had this year, we afrofuturists/black geeks don't often get the chance to interact with like minded folks.
And we need more opportunities like tonight where we all can get together and dance to our favorite jams, laugh and be comfortable in our own skin.
And to have the opportunity to share with others who don't look like us, make and further those connections and have honest discussions about culture and technology.
We need more time to stop. collaborate. and listen.