Stop the music. I have some serious things that I'd like to get off of my chest. I have been composing this post in my head ever since I left Austin. I want it to come across the right way and I hope that you'll understand where I'm coming from.
Diversity. A word that I've used a lot in the past five days. It's defined as "the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : variety; especially : the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization." My belief is that everyone wants to be represented. By someone that they can relate to. Who may look like them. And sometimes the majority doesn't see that because they're well, the majority. They are used to seeing people who look like them.
Jacket: Ralph Lauren (thrifted and gifted by Reiko)
Tee shirt: Target
Shoes: Steve Madden (gifted by Reiko)
Growing up in a small town, in most situations back then I was the "only one." As in, the only black person. I was in advanced classes and was the "only one." I was a cheerleader and was the "only one" until my friend Melissa made the squad my junior year. Class officer: "only one." I didn't give it much thought then because I was so used to it. I accepted it for what it was.
As time went on, in college I became involved in activities where I wasn't the only one. I became used to seeing people that looked like me and interacting with everyone.
My time in Austin both this time and last year I was keenly aware of how few people there were that looked like me. And how unacknowledged I felt by the conference organizer both years as well. I believed (mistakenly perhaps) that her acknowledgment was reserved for "big name" bloggers or those attendees that she knew personally. My blog is not a big one, I didn't expect to feel like Norm when he went into Cheers but a hi, head nod or high five would have sufficed. But I got none of the above, even when I was standing thisclose to the person who wanted (I would think) for me to feel welcomed and to want me to return. And as a native Texan I know what warm and personable are.
It really got me to thinking. I don't play the race card all willy nilly. I think that most slights and misplaced comments are born of ignorance rather than malice. But I do think that the Texas Style Council (and their sponsors) are not utilyzing an untapped market to their advantage. The non-majority are important too. We spend. We blog. We too want to see someone that we can relate to. We want to be included in the discussion. And I know that there are black bloggers networks and conferences out there but why can't there be room at this table? I want to interact with everyone.
Necklaces: (2 chain belts doubled) Sam Moon
The conference organizer made the point in a comment on her blog that she tried to include a variety of races and cultures into the organization of the conference but the one African-American blogger that she invited did not show up. One. Last time I checked, one was not a variety.
I do not want to make this a beat up session of the Texas Style Council. I think that Elissa and Linda did a phenomenal job in a hectic atmosphere. I enjoyed meeting all of the lovely people that share a passion for blogging and expressing themselves creatively. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Kyla, Jentine and Kendi, they are hilarious and were so unassuming and fun. I feel that it was a great networking opportunity. But I also want to feel included. By acknowledging my presence and being personable. By feeling that I'm the norm and not some anomaly because I am not a part of the majority. I think that this could be a catalyst for future discussions or even a panel for next year's conference. Let's address the issue at hand and do something about the lack of acknowledgement of diversity in blogging.
(Me, Kendi, Jentine and Reiko)
I hope that this makes sense. Let's start the conversation. Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.....