October was Black History Month in the UK; I used this month to learn about those who’ve shaped Black British culture and enjoyed being introduced to those who are currently shaping it. There were a lot of chats around different topics – one of which was diversity.
Whenever there’s a black version of something or a celebration of blackness, some people start questioning why that event or activity is necessary.
I talked about this briefly when I shared my experience volunteering at Black Pride during the summer. A lot of people didn’t understand why we need a black Pride.
This month alone I’ve had to explain more than once why black history needs to be recognized, highlighted and celebrated not only in the UK but around the world.
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When I find myself in these conversations I experience a range of emotions; most of the time I’m completely over it because it’s 2018 and I still have to talk about this shit.
I cannot speak for other black women or men, or for any person of color (POC), but I look for diversity every day in every situation. Black History Month is a great opportunity to talk about diversity but I look for it all the time.
Yep, that means I look for it in blogging too.
One of the things that attracted me to blogging now is the fact that there is an opportunity for everyone to shine. Anyone can start a blog and anyone can represent for their people and passion.
But that’s blogging now.
Diversity and blogging didn’t always go hand-in-hand
The first time I ever blogged was around 2003/2004. My blog was an outlet for the bullshit I was experiencing in my life at the time. Back then most blogs were like online journals and the whole idea of working with brands or even being a full-time blogger wasn’t at the front of the blogging scene.
Jump to a few years later, a few people started to realize “hey, I can take this to another level” and they started creating content that spoke to people. They started influencing people in a new way.
The biggest issue was not one of those bloggers looked like me.
I remember thinking I could write as well as these girls but I’m not white enough to have that following or influence. Remember, this was before Instagram and this was in the days when Twitter and Facebook were still young, fresh and new. Back then influence was different, back then blogging was different.
Every time I would try to take blogging even a little seriously I would get discouraged. White girls were the it girls. I wasn’t it.
I’m currently blogging, working on Olliviette and I always tap into that feeling of “I’m not a part of this space” when I create my content. I go back to that feeling because I don’t want any of my readers to feel that way.
I try to write things that speak to people on various levels, I hope I write things that introduce non-black people to a black perspective, I pray I write things that made people feel like they can relate even if they haven’t lived my experience. No one should feel like they are not a part of the blogging world or any world for that matter.
Are we really making strides?
Recently on Twitter, I pointed out a pretty big blogging platform, a space that claims it exists for bloggers, didn’t have any poc included in its space. Well let me be fair, there might be one or two other faces but the majority of the faces are white women with the same vibe.
I went back to questioning how can a black island girl bring her energy and vibes to a white space?
Does that mean this particular platform is racist?
No. I think human beings get comfortable and they surround themselves with people that look them. We do it and are unaware of the fact that we’re surrounding ourselves with “us”. I believe the people who run this platform haven’t realized they’re promoting an unflavorful view of the blogging community.
One could argue that black people and PoC surround themselves with people that look like them too but that is an entirely new blog post. Sometimes we do it as a survival tactic.
How do we ensure there’s diversity in the blogosphere?
I personally think it takes effort from each of us as individuals. Like I shared before, I try to write in such a way that I am being true to what I have to say while making everyone feel welcome in my space. Even if the topic is uncomfortable (like… talking about diversity), I want my readers from all backgrounds to be able to access, digest and discuss.
You don’t have to be black or have natural hair to identify with self-love. You don’t have to be black to identify with accepting your body at its natural state. Although I wrote both of those posts from a black of view, anyone can relate to them; anyone can join the chat.
I try to interact with all types of bloggers and types of individuals. This isn’t done to fulfill a diversity quota but because I do not want to be surrounded by people who all look, think and act exactly like me.
Making sure there’s diversity in blogging means asking why there isn’t any when you notice it’s lacking. Where are the plus sized bloggers, where are the trans bloggers, where are the disabled bloggers? It goes even deeper than skin.
I am aware that there are people who don’t like me because I talk about the “black stuff” or I call out things that are race related, but those people never have to question if they are welcome. They never have to crane their necks to see if there’s anyone else that looks like them in the room.
Don’t be “diverse” for the sake of diversity
There are people out there who will legit have a black friend so they can say but I hang with black people. Let’s not even talk about companies; they will include a black person so “the blacks” don’t complain.
If you’re re-evaluating your blogging circle situation just admit your circle looks very “samey”. Take that first step. Then question why.
Why am I only connecting with the same types of people over and over? Why am I not growing and expanding?
But don’t bring us in the circle because you feel that will make it right.
I am questioning whether if I should reach out to that blogging platform and highlight their diversity problem. Part of me says doing so might make them aware of the issue and part of me says, girl just make your own space. Create a space where black creators and influencers can shine – if they did it, you can too.
But then…that leads us back…to the question
Why is there a black version for everything?
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