I’m a Spy: Black Weblog Awards Recap

Saturday night, from 6pm to 10pm, was the most important 4 hour stretch of my 2011. I learned more about myself in that 4 hour period than I did in a year of graduate school.

About 36 hours have passed and I am still in shock over the events that took place in Los Angeles at the Black Weblog Awards. My shock does not come from my trophy-less performance at the awards event; I knew about 5 minutes in that would be the case/losing is never shocking when you’re Rembert Browne (see: 04-05 Basketball Season). My shock also does not come from the show itself; not that professional, but who cares… was an enjoyable evening, free food, and people had fun.

My shock comes from the 7:15pm realization that I am not a Black blogger. I learned that I wasn’t a Black blogger… at the Black Blog Awards. Funny time to figure that out.

I thought I was, since the words “Black” and “Blogger” accurately sum up aspects of my personality. When you put them together, however, some type of chemica-racial reaction takes place and I no longer fit the description.

For the past two months, since all of the self-created hoopla surrounding the Black Weblog Awards began, I thought of being a “Black Blogger” as someone who 1) blogs and 2) is Black. That’s it. Not until I took my seat on Saturday night and allowed the events of the night to wash over me did I realize the very different 2nd definition.

Black Blogger = A Black blogger that blogs for Black people. “The FUBU Platform”, if you will. A Black Blogger is not someone who blogs for people, Black people included. That person, somehow, falls into another category… something that I have yet to determine a name for outside of simply a “writer”. I hesitate in saying that, because it sounds kind of rude, but these two conversations fuel these feelings pretty significantly.

Convo 1

Lady: So what’s your blog about?
Me: Oh well, you know… pretty much whatever pops in my head the night before… I write about music, my friends, topical things, race, New York, Atlanta, I make lists, I do other random stuff, it’s pretty scattered.
Lady: That’s cool. And like all with a Black angle, I guess? I gotta check that out.
Me: Well, not really. I mean, I’m Black so I guess that’s my angle, but I’d say as many non-Black people read my blog as Black people.
Lady: Really? Why?
(End Scene)

Convo 2

Guy: So what’s your blog about?
Me: Oh well, you know… pretty much whatever pops in my head the night before… I write about music, my friends, topical things, race, New York, Atlanta, I make lists, I do other random stuff, it’s pretty scattered.
Guy: That’s cool. And like all with a Black angle, I guess? I gotta check that out.
Me: Well, not really. I mean, I’m Black so I guess that’s my angle, but I’d say as many non-Black people read my blog as Black people.
Guy: Really? Why?
(End Scene)

I did not accidentally copy and paste the same conversation twice. What you read is the same verbatim conversation I had with 2 different people over the course of 30 minutes.

I ended both scenes there because what I said next abruptly ended both conversations. Something along the lines of “it’s 2011” and “why wouldn’t they”.

When both people walked away, they gave me double takes and I immediately felt as if I was a spy. The look the middle-aged lady gave me screamed “this guy is about to leave this event and tell his non-Black readership contingent what we do here.” I know that’s a lot to derive from a look, but I know I’m right. The awkwardness level of my night skyrocketed, as did my sociological Spidey-senses. They were racing at a mile-a-minute.

I no longer was a nominee of the Black Weblog Awards. I was simply a guy there who simultaneously belonged and didn’t belong. This completely blindsided me.

This unfortunately true realization was a bummer for about 10 minutes. I mean, every now and then you want to be THAT DUDE for your people. You want 2 NAACP Awards to go with your 7 Grammys. Even when they aren’t always behind you, you want to constantly represent for them. You want to feel like you’re representing where you come from. You don’t always want to be initially thought of as the super-educated, decently-privileged, shockingly-well supported guy that does good things. Sometimes you’d just prefer that Black kid that does good things. I thought that was the boat I was in, just happily being one of the people in the crowd, but I wasn’t.

Not once have I wanted to be this race-less figure that has the unique ability to crossover and appeal to all that reads what he writes. That sounds miserable. I mean, if you don’t have a slight hunch that I might be Black after reading something I write, that’s probably your bad because I’m never in a place to hide that factoid. With that said, proudly announcing that you’re Black and writing for anyone’s eyes usually doesn’t go together. You’re either consciously hiding it and aiming to appeal to the masses or brashly acknowleding it and speaking only to your own.

I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think I am.

Not once have I started writing something and had the thought (wait… I don’t think my White friends are going to understand this reference or I don’t think my Black friends are going to understand this reference or I don’t think my Asian friend friends are going to understand this reference.) I just assume like 5 people will get everything, most people will get most of the things, some people will get only a few of the things, and my Great Aunt won’t get anything.

2 Quotes:

Jack Nicholson, as Frank Costello in The Departed: “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”

Jay Wayne Jenkins, as Young Jeezy in Thug Motivation 101: “I’m what the streets made me, product of my environment/Took what the streets gave me, product of my environment.”

A strange mix of these two quotes sums up the way I feel about this blog and life in general. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a product of a few environments, and they (luckily) don’t all look alike/talk alike/live alike. I also want to use what I’ve been given and play a small part in dictating what my current and future environments look like. That’s why I write. Luckily, not everyone who reads what I write looks alike/talks alike/lives alike.

I’m glad I went to the Black Weblog Awards on Saturday and I’m extremely glad I didn’t win anything. I don’t think I deserved to and to be frank, winning probably would have confused me even more. I’m very glad the awards exist, I think very targeted blogs are important (racially-target included) and I don’t have a single bad thing to say about them or any blog that participated or won. What I will say is that it’s always a good thing to be self-aware and to truly understand where you stand in the spectrum. As a pretty self-aware guy, I don’t fully think I did until Saturday.

I realized I’ll never really be the traditional Black crusader that a portion of my brain and heart assumed I’d be. I’m at a point of no return, which is crudely synonymous to saying I’ve developed too many significant relationships to White people in addition to all of my significant relationships to Black people (and many other people). Reading that back, it sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but I think it’s completely true.

For better of for worse, I’m just a 24 year old straight Black male from Atlanta that tells stories on WordPress every day and hopes people enjoy them. I’ve yet to figure out what my target audience is or the niche that I appeal to, but when I do I’ll let everyone know.

-Remblack. Post 192.

Advertisements

About Rembert Browne

NYC via ATL //// rembert.browne@gmail.com 500daysasunder.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Important Ones. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to I’m a Spy: Black Weblog Awards Recap

  1. Preach. Ride your lane and ride it hard. No need to be boxed in for anything or anybody! Interesting points here. Glad you wrote this. Too bad we didn’t meet at BWB, but we’re now following you on Twitter at least.

  2. BRAVA!!! I’ll expand on my parallel feelings later this week or even tonight after I’ve finished writing my post on my blog that feeds EVERYONE, not just black or Latinos, both of which I am… hence why I didn’t fit in either nor was my or my colleagues’ blog even remotely recognized albeit being the ONLY food bloggers there (though there were nods for food blogs); oh, and we also presented. But that’s another story.

  3. fb “like”! very well-said. as a black woman who has always been forced (only attempts!!!) to “choose a side” and have linear thinking, i really do appreciate your posts: no color lines – just good ol’ writing!!! *kudos*

  4. Cecil says:

    as an asian friend/reader (glad you made friends plural), i appreciate your blog as an opportunity to delve into the mind of the great rembini. your insights are spot on and your analyses of pop culture are delightful. keep up the great work, sir!

  5. fantastic. fantastic. fantastic.

  6. David L says:

    Hey Rembert M.
    When I attended “Rap Sessions” at Morehouse (circa. 1969) like everyone there, I spoke of freedom and black liberation while sporting a decent fro and my favorite dashiki. Then someone said, “what we need to do is kill them honkies”. Huh! What? Having been born in Ohio, many of my first friends were white. I just couldn’t sign on to hurting them when they had done nothing bad to me. Several of my revolutionary brothers (circa.1969) when I spoke to them about this responded by concluding that I wasn’t black enough. KEEP MOVING FORWARD REM……..

  7. doctordiscolights says:

    This might be my favorite of your posts. EVER. (this is from “a black angle”) smh

  8. Tanner says:

    What is the “FUBU” you speak ok? Is that an acronym for a Will Shortz cross-word? Let me know later, I’m out watering my lawn, then it’s off to eat some soup.

  9. simon t says:

    “I’ve yet to figure out what my target audience is or the niche that I appeal to, but when I do I’ll let everyone know.”

    I’d say most people would agree with the observation that you write for the #1 Stunnas… in fact Stunnas #1 through #100,000,000

  10. simon t says:

    PS. Sociology… what a stupid thing to major in

  11. truthbot says:

    I haven’t even begun to peak, but when I do this whole city’s gonna know about it. – Dennis Reynolds

  12. Giazzy Giazz says:

    I’m glad you were nominated for an award. That’s how I discovered the awesomeness of your blog. I totally appreciate that your blog is just that-a blog. No racial undertones. Its just your literary works as you plow through Grad school….I love it! Keep doing what you do…

  13. Michelle says:

    Asian friend commenter #2! Rem–your blog and your person are just awesomeness that will be awarded (daily) and for sure in the annals of awesomeness. The thing about being able to navigate in many spheres is that it sometimes means you get pushed out of ones that need to fight to retain their distinctiveness. I know this feeling well and I think you put it more eloquently than I ever could. There’s a book that helped me a lot when I was in college, figuring out my Asian/White/Twinkie/Banana identity. It was called the Accidental Asian, written by Eric Liu, speechwriter to Bill Clinton. It’s all sorts of hilarious. Anyway, I hope to see you soon over burgers and fries at Mel’s.

  14. RRR says:

    Very interesting read. I am a webmaster of another 2011 Black Weblog Awards finalist. Nobody from my site attended the awards, but after reading your experience I now see the reception I would have had if I would have gone. I write an occasional movie review for the site, but none of the movies I have reviewed so far have anything to do with being “black” and most do not have any black actors. Based on what you wrote that means I am not a “black” blogger either. From one “spy” to another. Thanks for taking one for the team.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s