Saturday, March 17, 2012

Texas Style Council: Part Deux

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
Bracelets: InPink
Jeans: H&M
Clutch: DSW
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.....


Chastity Garner said...

This was one of the reasons I did not attend this year. I felt under represented in the "race" cateogory & the plus size blogger category. I'm glad you said something

Consider Me Lovely said...

I'm still composing my recap post to ensure that it does not come off the wrong way (though it probably still will) , but you did a fantastic job Juanette!!

Anonymous said...

As a latina, I didn't even notice that there wasn't a ton of representation of Hispanics on the panel. I think there was one? Maybe two? I don't know. I think it would have been much more enjoyable if it were more diverse, I do agree. I felt like the personalities in the panels were lacking, as well.

Nic said...

great post and way to get your point across. i feel the same about bloggin organizations/groups where i live as well (Maryland). there are a few of "us" who get recognized but there are many more talented and great bloggers out there who look like me. its a battle but hopefully posts like this one will open people's eyes.


ps i LOVE your outfit---shoes are great!!

Carsedra said...

BRAVO!!! Well said, I want to start going to some of the blogger events and conferences, but I would hate to go and walk away feeling like this. I do hope they take this and makes changes for the better!!

Your outfit is fabulous, I love those wedges!!!

Carsedra of:

Jen S. said...

I didn't attend the event this year, but I know what you mean. I think that the world of blogging in general and the "TOP" bloggers aren't of mixed races. It would be nice to hear about the experiences of ALL bloggers. I hear ya and its unfortunate that your experience wasn't better. Hopefully your message will be heard and next year will be better.


My Edit said...

Skipping class with you and your lady friend was one of my best memories of the weekend. You guys brighten any room you walk into... Meet up in Houston soon? ( we need to get our plans for your future into gear...;))... Xo

Kyla said...

Very eloquently put. I look forward to tackling more issues and bringing more and more bloggers together, regardless of color, size, style, etc. Let's make it happen :)

Sing said...

Unfortunately style/fashion blogging is just an extension of the lack of diversity in the fashion industry in general. So I'm not surprised about what you described.
I would love to see more diverse collaborations from black stylish bloggers. Like you said, we are here, we shop, we blog, we know fashion. Using the same "one" (we know who I'm talking about) over and over is not being diverse, sorry. I truly think it's sad and it's very apparent in blogland what's going on. Well written post.

ari said...

I am a new blogger but this post doesnt surprise me.. You did a good job of getting your point across. I hear you loud and clear and you do not sound biased at all.

Aside from that, your outfit is fabulous. Keep it up!

Ivonne said...

I completely agree with you. Hopefully they have a better representation next year.

Besides that you look fabulous!


Toya | The Limerick Lane said...

This is a constant issue when I go to blogging conferences. People of color are under represented. I even notice it when brands decide to work with bloggers they never choose a diverse group. I applaud you for speaking out. I share your same sentiments.

L. Michelle Tatum said...

Great post and great summary. Thanks for being a voice. Let's see if any changes are made...

Indiana Adams said...

Hey, just a quick note to let you know that I'm really sorry. I'm sorry I didn't hire more help to free me to be able to say hello and to even acknowledge everyone at least once. I'm sorry that it wasn't viewed as diverse enough. I reached out to as many bloggers that I could and worked with the sponsors that approached me. I'm not making any excuses. I feel terrible that everyone had such a crappy time and I can man up and take full responsibility for that.

The feedback that I've gotten was mostly... like this. So, your points are valid. Please know that it was not deliberate nor am I a "cold" person who sees herself above others. In all actuality, I assume that most people don't know who I am, so I kept my head down and took out trash and worried over slides not getting done and not having enough wine and rain making the vendors move inside and breaking fire code.

It's looking likely that I will not be the sole organizer of the TxSC in 2013. It's too much heartache for me for not at all enough money and too much time away from my family.

I'd love to talk to someone about taking it over. Interested?

anne m bray said...

Thanks for writing this. Very well put.
DEFINITELY a worthwhile panel discussion for the next TxSC.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin