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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The End of an Error: Trying Not to be a MEAN Girl(or woman for those who are sensitive)

Yesterday a reader left the following comment on the blog, she is not alone. I have been receiving emails as well about the podcast and the comments section. I just turned down the loud music that's been blaring in my ear over the last few months and I can hear you loud and clear!

Gina: The sky is blue
Comment 1: Girl, you sure told it!
Comment 2: Mmmm-hmmm, nailed it.
Comment 3: Actually, where I am, it's kind of gray.
Comments 4: Uh-oh, brace yourself, ladies. Here come those people with the nerve to disagree! Pecola, WAOD Comments

To the extent that this blog began to look more like a sorority than a community, I apologize.

To the extent that the comment's looked less like the comments section than The Colosseum during ancient Rome where we bludgeon each other like gladiators and the winner is determined by who is left standing, I apologize.

To the extent that you have been fearful of chiming in on the podcast for fear that you would have to martyr yourself before a pack of lionesses in order to offer your opinion, I apologize.

The whole point of blogging in my opinion is that it allows ordinary people to let their voices be heard. Blogging democratizes information and and opinions. To the extent that I allowed the appearance that some opinions were more important than others, I apologize.

I'm a mere mortal and not a goddess (some days I come close. HA!) But anyway, I don't need to be worshiped. While I appreciate your kind words, I am not a rock star. If you like the work we do, hit up the Pay Pal button in the sidebar so we can do more. But, I've always offered my opinion without the need for any prompting.

The reality is that inside of any of us lies a teenage girl who can come out under the best of circumstances. "Gina, I like your hair."- "Oh, its nothing "-"No really, I love your hair and those cute shoes, where did you get them"- "thank you, I got them from Nordstroms"-"really, I shop at Nordstroms too!"- "That's nice"-"Gina, you're the smartest most awesome-est, most spectacular woman to ever buy shoes in the history of the universe EVER!"- "I am?" . Man eventually even you will begin to believe your own hype if you get bombarded by it constantly.
The fact that we like the same shoes don't make us soul sisters for all eternity, it just means we have something in common. I did my best to fight it, but no one is immune.

I got emails from people repeatedly who said in various ways that they would say something on in the comments section or on the podcast, but they were scared or intimidated, or they just didn't want to deal with the blow back of having a different opinion. In a world were people want to place you on a pedestal, you need people who are willing to tell you when they think you are wrong, not a "Rah Rah Sisterhood" that will "rah rah" you right off a cliff.

So please disband the "Rah Rah Sisterhood" I don't need a group of folks cheering me on, because recently I realized that some people were willing to cheer me right off a cliff. If you listen to the podcast with any regularity, you know that I try to discourage people trying to build me up to be more than what I am. I know what happens when you get a big head. Although I resisted strongly, I developed one anyway and lost my grip on reality.

So let's start over.

Everybody is equal here. Well except for me, but I pay the mortgage. You're welcome to hang around, but occasionally, you need to take yourself home. Keep your feet off the coffee table. Don't spill coffee on the rug and under no circumstances should you pick a fight with another guest, other wise I can and will put you out. People came here to dance. Have some good conversation. Eat hot wings and enjoy the view. Occasionally we'll break out a game or two of UNO or scrabble, but the competition should always be in good fun.

For those of you who've been waiting to chime in, but have been afraid out of fear, or just because you didn't need the aggravation, now is your chance.

However, if you choose to just enjoy the scene and chill in the corner, that's cool too because everybody doesn't come to the party to dance, some just came to get out of the house, away from the kids, or to unwind after a long days work.

I'm human. I mess up. There is no instruction manual on how to be a good Blogger, at least not one I am aware of. While hanging out in a group might be fun, it also keeps you from meeting new people because you are working so hard to keep up with the conversation in your crew, that you don't notice the person in the corner who has something amazing to say, but is too intimidated to approach you while you're standing in a pack.

A good hostess manages to make every one feel at home and draw everyone into the conversation. I am a southerner after all, I need to work on my hospitality. So there are going to be some major changes around here.

First, there will only be one WAOD contributor for the time being that will be ME. All of the WAOD contributors now have their own blogs, I encourage you to visit. This helps avoid the appearance of any hierarchy. They are an awesome group of women and I look forward to watching their blogs grow and thrive.

Second, I am fully committed to using this platform to let the world know about other voices that are out there. So we will be having monthly blogging carnivals. I'll pick a topic and if you have written a post, or have read a post about the topic, I'll provide a link. Once we do our technological upgrade in the spring and move over to our own domain, we'll have more flexibility for allowing more guest posts or diaries.

Third, I've eliminated the WAOD Action Center. I think it is important to recognize what your gifts are and nurture them. Having a voice is my gift. Running an action center is not. I encourage all of you who want to become engaged to use this blog as motivation, inspiration and use information to go out into your own community and apply it in the real world. You'll be able to meet me at Blogging While Brown, no need for me to fly around the country turning into Aljessina Shackson. I'll also work through the AfroSpear Google Group as well.

So chime in if you want to. Or sit back and chill. Call in to the podcast or just listen in. But if you have something you want to say, feel free to say it without fear of having someone tear flesh from your back for offering a dissenting opinion. I'll try to follow my own advice though my natural inclination, training, and experience is to use words as a weapon, it is an occupational hazard. I fight with words for a living. I am an experienced verbal brawler and spent several years going up against criminal defense attorneys so my tolerance for verbal combat is extremely high. What seems like a light hearted bout of rhetorical jousting may be devastating to someone else.

And for the love of God, don't let the fact that you don't have a college degree make you feel as if you can't speak out in the comments section. Try it for one day and if you can't survive it, then you can keep sending me emails. I think these past few months have demonstrated that a whole lot of folks with educations and degrees can act as if they don't have a lick of sense.

To the extent that this blog looked at times like a scene out of the movie "Mean Girls," I apologize. As the owner of the blog, it is my responsibility to make all of the guests feel comfortable, not just those who follow me around the room complimenting my queso and bar-b-que marinade.

PS. The template change is part of a revamping of this blog and my life. It is the original template for WAOD. The blog and my life had gotten too chaotic and unbalanced and too much was going on and quite frankly cannibalizing the blog. So this is part of a stream lining process. We will be getting a professional web designer to redesign our site as we prepare to head over to our own domain, whataboutourdaughters.com. But I can tell you right not that I feel calmer already looking at the blog in it's old format. I think it is easier to read and less distracting.

Reminder, if you want to host a workshop or panel for Blogging While Brown, the deadline is February 8, 2008. I think someone should consider doing a panel discussion on "How I Survived the WAOD Comments Gauntlet" or "When Blogging Packs Attack" - okay I'll stop. I'm just being silly now.