50 Shades of Same – Do We Need More Diversity in the Blogging World?

By |2018-11-09T14:28:46+00:00October 25th, 2018|Life|24 Comments

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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Diveristy in the blogging community, diverse bloggers

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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.

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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.

olliviette diversity in blogging

Blogging now…

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.

 

olliviette no diversity in the blogosphere

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.

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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.

olliviette diversity with bloggers

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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24 Comments

  1. Elisabeth Straw October 25, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Wow! What an incredible post!

  2. Andrea | First Mate Wifey October 25, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this! I am about as white as a gal can get, and I do appreciate constant reminders to proactively seek out diversity, seek out people who look, think, live differently than me. I’m working hard to be more aware of my communities and how genuinely inclusive they are. Great post!

    • Olli October 28, 2018 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      I think it’s awesome that you’re a white woman seeking diversity. I know a lot of white men and women who actively ONLY seek things that look familiar to their experience. I’m always looking to learn about new cultures, new ways of thinking and learn about people who aren’t like me. This wold is too small to be surrounded by same ALL the time.

  3. Melissa October 25, 2018 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Another on point post! Race, representation and diversity will always be important issues for people of colour. Always. I find myself searching for faces like mine in the blogosphere because as much as I love to connect with people who look different from me and whose culture and lived experiences are worlds away from mine, sometimes, I just want to find comfort in the familiar.

    • Olli October 26, 2018 at 7:03 am - Reply

      I hope I didn’t remove the importance of seeing people like yourself as a POC – I think it’s important to find a balance. I want to connect with my black girls but I also want non-black people to feel like they can rep with me too. As for larger platforms, using the one from my post as an example, where they are putting out information and saying they exist for influencers/bloggers, I feel they need to have a range of people so their readers can find a bit of themselves in their work.

      So I think as individual bloggers we have to say I’m making this content so my community can connect but I think we should also be aware that other people might come into our spaces too. We don’t have to make it warm and welcoming but I feel if we do it only boosts us even more.

      • Melissa October 27, 2018 at 12:17 am - Reply

        Your post was well written and balanced. I didn’t feel left out :-). I think it’s great for us to remind the universe that we exist and we want to see ourselves when we read a blog post or read a magazine or watch a TV show.

        • Olli October 28, 2018 at 4:54 pm - Reply

          Thank you Melissa, and thank you for connecting with my blog!

  4. Mykki October 25, 2018 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    I love reading and consuming content from a diverse group of people because, frankly, always seeing the same people talking about the same stuff (and their same California-white-girl-entrepreneur privilege) gets old. Fast. I can relate more to people who have personal struggles, who are honest and real with others, and who have a desire to represent who they are and where they come from. That passion and rawness bleeds through into their writing and it’s so refreshing to see bloggers like this.

    I welcome and encourage more diversity in blogging because everyone has a voice and if they want it heard, it should be. And I wanna hear it.

    • Olli October 26, 2018 at 7:06 am - Reply

      I think we’ve come a long way since the first days of blogging. People of all backgrounds are able to have a platform. I do think that type of girl – the California looking, I come off as having an Instagram perfect life etc girl still has the edge as far as influence and opportunities but that’s another post. I’m glad you’re open to hearing stories from all walks of life!

  5. Majean October 26, 2018 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Such a great post. Maybe you should ask this platform the question…..why does everyone look the same? Maybe they need more people asking them that. Maybe more blogging platforms and brands need to be asked the question.

    • Olli October 26, 2018 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      I am still questioning whether I should or not – I think I will but time will tell.

  6. Maria [The Southerner Blogs] October 26, 2018 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    I wish I could “like” this post… and then keep liking it until my hands bleed – that’s a compliment, I swear!
    I’ve always been a passionate writer and very active on Instagram but only about 2 months ago, I turned my hand to writing this blog to combine my love of sharing photos and writing. I’ve also noticed, as a WOC that it’s pretty sparse out here if you’re a POC. I’m not sure why that is but I’ve really been hungering to find more diversity so am so glad I came across you via the #FF on Twitter. Thanks for getting in touch. You’ve gained a subscriber and a follower .

    • Olli October 28, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      Awww thank you – I totally got what you meant! Thank you for for following the blog, I really hope my future content leaves you satisfied! If you think it’s hard out there now for POC – seriously imagine how it was back then during that time I wrote about in the post. At this point we are our here THRIVING. I wanted to touch on whether or not black people have to tune down their blackness for opportunities but that’s another blog post. So glad you connected to this space, you are welcome here and appreciated.

  7. Yvonne Wabai October 27, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I love this! I actually spoke about this issue on my blog here https://yvonnewairimuwabai.weebly.com/blog/bloggers-tag because I’ve met people who’ve looked at me with disdain because of where I’m from and the colour of my skin. It’s discouraging.

  8. Sofia October 27, 2018 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    I think this post is long overdue to be talked about. As I read, I kept thinking of the mega-bloggers that are in the spotlight right now. 95% of them are slim white women. Plus size bloggers are getting a little more traction along with some Asian bloggers, but then it seems like the train stops there.

    I noticed this a few months ago when I was going through my Instagram and cleaning out people I’m no longer interested in while trying to find new and intriguing accounts. There was a moment where I paused because all my account recommendations were a bunch of white people. Where’s the diversity? Why was I only being promoted white accounts? I think that’s another part of it. It’s not just that blog platform that promotes white. It’s everywhere, subliminally or not. I actively had to seek diverse accounts and even though I’m following them, Instagram still only fills my “suggestions” with straight white women or straight white men.

    Disappointing and frustrating that so many sites rig the whole thing against anyone who isn’t straight, white, and perfect.

    Thank you for this post
    x Sofia
    http://www.thecozie.co

  9. Alex October 27, 2018 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    This is a very interesting and eye opening post, I try to follow as many people that I deem interesting and try to support anyone I can. I find people with different backgrounds and perspectives to me because I love to learn about other people’s lives. Great post and I hope to here more cool things like this from you!
    Alex x
    http://allthingsalexx.wordpress.com

    • Olli October 28, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

      I think following people who you find interesting is a great way to start, hopefully they all bring something different to the table. Sadly, some people are only following based on the look and aesthetic of a person and that’s not fair; that’s the yucky part of this I want to change. I’m glad you liked this post and thanks for reading!

  10. Shayla October 27, 2018 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Wow this was an amazing post. I relate I identify. I’ve only been doing this for a short time but I’m doing it because I want to show a positive and realistic view of black families, black women, black bloggers. I noticed the very same thing. I wanted to show the world black women yoga, reiki, we do the same stufffffff so that’s be my drive. I was discouraged too when I first started because of everything you mentioned in you post. Girl this post gave me life this morning and make me think.

    • Olli October 28, 2018 at 9:17 am - Reply

      I’m happy this gave you life!! One of the things I struggled with in writing this post was as a black writer is it my duty to think about my non black audience? Is my black content for black people only? But when I started Olliviette I didn’t want it to be a black only space. I wanted to write about black things but I wanted those thoughts to be seen by everyone. That was my struggle with Olli. When I wrote this I was like girl ain’t nobody out here seeing this….why are you making noise? but seeing the response shows me maybe I’m talking that real talk…

  11. Shohinee Deb October 29, 2018 at 9:14 am - Reply

    A great article and an amazing title. Your words formed an instant connection with my thoughts. I absolutely loved your writing style and I hope you will keep writing. Please continue being you and thank you for writing this.

  12. MJ October 29, 2018 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Totally have respect for you as a blogger and as a person for taking the time to write this. Shows your openness and willingness to make change in this community. As a black woman I barely find black bloggers on twitter, I more find them on Instagram. Unsure of why there’s a platform gap, but overall I’d love to see more people being open to it. I love that you said you try to write posts that can relate to everyone. That’s dope and that should be how it is for everyone. Be true to you.💜💜💜

  13. Natonya October 29, 2018 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I feel you on this one, diversity comes in all shapes and forms. On my blog I try to make sure I include diversity from the fashion perspective by writing relatable posts to showcase and support all women of different body types and sizes. I wrote a post about the body positive movement being inclusive exclusive for the exact same reasons you mentioned but based on shapes and sizes.

    It’s healthy to surround yourself with different people because you start to think better. We need to learn from different perspectives in order to be more educated about the world we live in. Thanks for another good post!

    Natonya | http://www.justnatonya.wordpress.com

  14. Jenna October 30, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Hey O

    Great post because honestly this is somethat needs to be pointed out because it is happening. Even with certain blogging platforms I dont feel like I fit it. Travel and lifestyle are generic stuff but I am a Black woman and most of the time I speak from my black perspective and I hope whoever reads it can relate.

    It is a difficult one and I wished it was not like that. Blogging is on a whole new level these days and some days I feel like do i even fit in?

    I want everyone to relate but what can ai do if one group gravitate to me more than the others?

    Thanks again for this post, I always hear your voice when I read your content lol

    Jenna
    xoxo
    https://jennasworldview.com/2018/10/30/solo-adventures-in-barcelona/

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