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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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Post-Racial Promised Land

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 4:07 PM

These past few days I've had the opportunity to circulate amongst some of the most powerful female bloggers in the nation. It has been a truly eye-opening experience for many reasons. Most of which have to do with my growth as a writer/blogger, and how I can become more focused and improve upon what I'm doing now, and others, dealt with just plain ol' life issues.

It's been almost a week since Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested outside of his home near Boston for disorderly conduct. Since then the media has been focusing on how, in "post-racial" America (gag), people are still dealing with the uncomfortable issues that surround race. President Obama added his two cents to the debate, acknowledging that Black & Latino men are racially profiled at higher rates by the police, and for that, he was accused of race bating by Conservative pundits. Normally, I would ignore their faulty analysis, but I'm starting to realize that SO many people have SO many opinions about race, that we might as well just put it all out in the open and talk about it.

The charade has ended. Let's not pretend that Americans are post racial. And to be honest, we will probably never get to the point where one's color, one's visible difference does not matter. Oh, we'd like to pretend we are THAT deep, that self-actualized, that progressive, but when it comes down to it, many of us still harbor some of the divisive stereotypes from the past.

Today I attended a BlogHer session on Marketing to Women of Color. The room was ethnically diverse and packed. I was psyched because I was amazed that so many non-colored girls were interested in US. Although sometimes I feel like black bloggers are marginalized to ONLY having a Black audience, I thought perhaps, this would open my eyes to something different. Then the conversations and questions became reruns of past conversations. The jist being: We want to be included too! Many women of color (WOC) bloggers shared that they sometimes felt disrespected by companies approaching them because they wanted to target a certain "urban" (read: black) audience in a certain way. While on the PR side, many lamented the difficulty of being an all-white firm, pitching to black/brown consumers. Although the conversation seemed honest and authentic, one thought kept running through my mind:


Learn what makes me tick. Read me. Study me. But not in an "oh, you're so exotic" kind of way. Learn my customs, my culture, how I live. Because, honestly, as a WOC that longs to be successful, I have no choice but to study you. So why not return the favor? If you're a company and your whole staff is white, you should probably investigate why you're whole staff is white, and not focus on how you'll be perceived as a white person pitching to a diverse crowd. Not that you have to go out and hire a token black/brown person, but in 2009, your company should already look like the world.

After the session, my suspicions that we weren't really past race were confirmed...with a tweet, no less.

It seems as though a blog that focuses on Moms of Color intimidates people. Why? I'm not sure. It's not that we, moms of color, don't deal with the same issues as all moms, because we do. I can only infer it's because of race, being that all other things--parenting issues, the products we buy for our kids, our children's development--remain equal.

It's sad that we've found new ways (and mediums) to segregate ourselves. The Henry Louis Gates issue has only pealed back the bandaid we've used to cover our race wounds. I would hope that, at some point, and through serious, honest conversations we will get past our differences and enjoy learning about each other. Maybe then we might reach the mystical, magical lands of post-racial America.

Listen to Denene Millner, founder of MyBrownBaby discusses race, the web, and blogging while brown HERE
Do you think the web is segregated?
How can we TRULY become a Post-Racial America? (or do we even want to?)
What do you wish others could truly learn about YOU (or your culture?)?

14 Response to 'Post-Racial Promised Land'

  1. M.Dot. Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248574700792#c7246382337734968634'> Saturday, July 25, 2009 7:18:00 PM

    I like it.

    Its critical and inclusive and insightful.

    What I want to hear more about is the alleged intimidating talk.


  2. Ananda Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248649583122#c3534407083958632883'> Sunday, July 26, 2009 4:06:00 PM

    Thanks PW for the blog post. You captured what I was feeling in many ways.


  3. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248661609182#c3556670690869375408'> Sunday, July 26, 2009 7:26:00 PM

    mdot: that's the thing. i'm not sure WHY people are intimidated by moms of color. i'm thinking that some people (white) feel like they can't relate because they're black. but why? beyond me. makes me think the 'net is hella segregated. what you think?

    Ananda: would love to hear what you thought, though. how did you feel as one of a handful of brown bloggers @ BlogHer? did they have enough sessions that SPOKE to you?


  4. Denise Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248696940267#c3051299467789150386'> Monday, July 27, 2009 5:15:00 AM

    I saw the intimidated tweet but I can't find where that came from. Please help! If you hear more about those types of discussions or blog posts, please share them so that we can all discuss and learn.


  5. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248707218196#c2478234751515198636'> Monday, July 27, 2009 8:06:00 AM

    I don't think the web is segregated. While you will hear many racially insensitive and biased views and comments throughout the web it is not segregated.


  6. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248709089016#c5639510452988655973'> Monday, July 27, 2009 8:38:00 AM

    Denise: i'm not exactly sure where it came from either, but i know Denene (mybrownbaby) was upset by it. it made us all pause for a second & reflect on what could possibly be intimidating by a site for MOC.

    Vee: thanks for contributing. i still see lots of, segregation on the web. most popular black sites are viewed mostly by black folks & a lot of the popular parenting sites tend to cater to mostly white moms. with pictures of white women & babies. i think it's all about perception. if nothing else, this panel opened up the conversation for ALL sites (and i have to think of my own) should include images/posts/ideas that are inclusive.


  7. Mocha Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248722682134#c8707416512194883562'> Monday, July 27, 2009 12:24:00 PM

    I think it's funny that companies complain that they don't know or understand us. Are the top executives white? Are they the ones traveling around the world and getting cultural experience? Are they then passing on their charge to lower level managerial positions who are also white and not quite enlightened about culture who then give us stereotypical commercials?

    I don't have answers. I still have questions. And I will continue to ask them.

    Great post. Even if you did use the words (gag) "post-racial" (gag).



  8. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248724164169#c5481914824638176138'> Monday, July 27, 2009 12:49:00 PM

    This is very interesting. When I started blogging and decided that I wanted to have a header made I had to think of what I wanted to display. I wanted an image that represented me but did not exclude anyone. Do I pic an image of a white women because that will include us all (black women do tend to gravitate towards these site as well), by putting up an image of a white women I run the risk of being false or unreal to my true self by black women. Or do I chose an image of a black woman an run the risk of not reaching out to women other than WOC. I ended up choosing an image of a black woman because I think she looked quite like me (about 60 lbs lighter and with longer hair). I never thought the web to be a place where segration would be but that could be my little naive self hoping and wishing race is not the issue.

    I wonder what we WOC go through so differently from other's that we are either intimidating, or not worth the pr. Don't a lot of people use huggies, breastfeed, use formula, deal with separation anxiety, ect. What could really be that different besides our skin.


  9. Juls Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248761677287#c1614161695592376812'> Monday, July 27, 2009 11:14:00 PM

    ...wow, I really enjoyed reading that. Great insight, and I think it's unfortunate that the blog does seem segregated. Diversity, in my opinion, should be embraced and respected. Who wants to read more about someone who is JUST like you...not me, for sure. I think it's a privilege to read a wide range of blogs, that make each person unique, regardless of color. (hope this makes sense...because sometimes I have a hard time conveying what I'm trying to say :) My point is, I agree with you, and it saddens me...baby steps to get to post-racial America I think.... but it's my prayer, that we will get there!


  10. Juls Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248761852977#c3162728064573713623'> Monday, July 27, 2009 11:17:00 PM

    that should say "blog world" not just blog
    And now that I've posted it, I'm not sure my comment makes a lot of sense ...but I'm crazee like that..


  11. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248791144612#c4193058497429698219'> Tuesday, July 28, 2009 7:25:00 AM

    The "intimidation" thing is just weird to me. As I noted on Denene's post, I think that people read titles of blogs and just think "that is not for me" without staying around to read the content.

    I think my experience in the blogosphere has been a little different because initially most of the blogs I read were either by withe authors or written by women of color with a diverse audience.

    I explored the blogs of those commenting and ended up initially having a readership that was largely white.

    As I discovered more blogs written by women of color my audience expanded. I was able to find more and more people of color as I clicked on links.

    Sometimes I think that people don't get out of their comfort zone (or neighborhood) because it takes time and effort.

    However, I know that we all have interesting things to share and think that only by being open and receptive to others can we truly celebrate our diversity.


  12. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248797796138#c3985021010042843255'> Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:16:00 AM

    Juls: thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. you made perfect sense. i agree, it will take us small measured steps to get where we want to be.

    Renee: i think you've got something there. before the conf i was sort of stuck in my blog lane. i read who i read. after BlogHer i'm starting to read outside of my own little box. i think, as you said, we all get some comfortable within our own thing that we don't venture out. i'm going to start venturing out!


  13. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248811987944#c8850448595792528140'> Tuesday, July 28, 2009 1:13:00 PM

    I feel like I need to make something clear, here: I agree with Renee that we ALL need to venture out of our comfort zone, and that's what I do. I do not, and have never, visited only blogs of WOC. There are lots of great writers out there who speak to me, regardless of color/race/sex/sexual orientation—anymommy, preston of me and the blue skies, black hockey jesus at the wind in my vagina, a thorn among roses, dooce... And I make a point of not only visiting but becoming a member at plenty of mom sites that proudly proclaim they're written for moms.

    My problem, as I stated at the BlogHer panel that Renee participated in and later on the Pepsico/BlogTalkRadio show interview, is that sites that proclaim to be for ALL moms RARELY, if ever, do very simple things to acknowledge that more than just white moms are reading and participating with them. Where are the pictures of black moms breastfeeding their kids? Where are the pictures of Latina moms playing with their children in the park? How about an Asian mom reading with her baby? When they're looking to review products, does it ever occur to them that I can't use the shampoos they're recommending? Or that it might be nice to feature a lipstick and a blush that isn't exclusive to white skin? Every once in a while?

    Their blogs may not say "white" baby or "white" moms, but everything else about it screams such.

    Still, I've seen plenty of moms of color participating on those sites (which shall remain nameless, but if the shoe fits, I hope they're paying attention) and breaking their necks to become a part of those communities, only to get the cold shoulder from the sites and the other women who participate on them. In other words, there is no RECIPROCATION. If I can get outside of MY lane and come to your 'hood, why on earth would you be too "intimidated" to come to mine? What's going to happen if they stop by our blogs? Are they expecting to get cursed out? Cyberslapped? What?

    And WHY is it that when it comes to fostering diversity, we're the ones who ALWAYS have to take up the mantle, anyway? Again, my argument was that WE go to their sites, but they never seem to come to ours.

    I named my blog MyBROWNBaby because A) that's what my kids are, and B) I wanted to create a space for MOC looking to participate in the national debate on motherhood. The only time we get invited to participate is when someone's looking for black folk to break down our pathologies—teen pregnancy, poverty, poor education, etc. But there's so much more to us—so much more. And we deserve a space where we can share and commiserate and bitch and advise and just, well, be.

    But MyBrownBaby also seeks to teach—you know what I'm saying? I'm not talking preach to the choir. I'm talking about helping others who aren't familiar with us to see that we're not boogie(wo)men—that we diaper our babies, and breastfeed them, and want them to go to fine schools, and experience joy and pain and death, and do what we can to be the best moms we can be. A lot of who we are overlaps with who they are, but there are some instances where the issues will have a different tint to them. I would think that at a time when our country's first lady is Michelle Obama, you might want to get your hands on as much info as you can.

    But that's just me.

    Bottom line: I want the purveyors of these mainstream mommy blogs/websites to over and LEARN something. Don't be skerd.

    Is that so tall an order?


  14. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-racial-promised-land.html?showComment=1248812426016#c4064933568703364733'> Tuesday, July 28, 2009 1:20:00 PM

    And thank you, PW, for having my back on this. You know how I feel about your writing—I think it's positively stunning and thoughtful and smart. Much like you.

    It was good meeting you at BlogHer sis—it took me a minute to figure it out, but the moment it clicked, it was on. ; }