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This isn't my usual post. I mostly write about my dogs and raw feeding. After my experiences in 2020, I decided that it's important for me to speak my truth. This post is going to offend some people, some people will disagree, and others will be annoyed that I'm not writing about dogs. But this is my blog where I share my thoughts, so, here goes…
Last year, America burned as people walked out of their homes to march down the streets in protest of systematic racism. When the protests began, I was conflicted. All of these long-suppressed feelings came bubbling up to the surface and I was mad as hell. Looking around the fresh food community, I was stunned that no one was talking about what was happening in our country and around the world.
While it was “life as usual” for everyone else, I was revisiting every racist interaction I've had with a white person. I was coming to terms with my discomfort at always being the only black person in a crowd. And I was mad as hell.
With all of the emotions flying around, I understand why people began creating lists. In their eyes, they were offering support and providing a platform for Black voices. Everyone wanted to do something – even me. But today, after surviving 2020, I have a different outlook on the attempts by myself and others to address racism through “Black Bloggers” blog posts and this is why I don't want to be added to someone's blog post.
1 – I Can't Control the Color of My Skin
When I'm added to a legit Top Bloggers List, I'm honored. Hell, I appreciate being added to the lame lists because it's all a backlink to my blog and, I pray, will lead to a trickle of traffic from people interested in dogs and raw feeding. But I want to be added to a list because I'm sharing great information, because I have a nice site design, because I'm delivering solid content, or because I'm seen as an OG in the Fresh Food Community.
Adding me to a list for being black is annoying because I didn't do anything special to become black. I worked my ass off to learn how to build and design a website, how to incorporate SEO (search engine optimization) into every post and page, and how to be my own publicist. Being born black is effortless – really, I did nothing special to be born black. But all the rest that I mentioned? Yeah, that was hard work.
2 – “Black Bloggers” Lists Don't Help Me or My Blog
During a time when everyone is freaking out, feeling frustrated and a little guilty, and wanting desperately to help – giving them a list of “Black Pet Bloggers” to share and a handful of black bloggers to follow on social media is like tossing out a life preserver to the masses. But it doesn't help me.
- I received a few friend requests from people who wanted to connect because I'm black, somehow thinking their social media connection would make me feel less marginalized. Ummm, yeah, that's not how it works.
- I received a few followers, but I don't know if they stuck around after the protests turned into riots and the riots turned into political mayhem.
- I received a backlink to my blog, which is helpful, but if someone really wants to help, I need about 50 quality backlinks. Per month. Forever.
When I think back to these “Black Bloggers” lists, I think these are more helpful to the author because it gave them a sense of accomplishment for taking a stance against racism. Personally, being added to these lists is like tossing a teeny rock in a huge pond (barely a ripple) and expecting a tsunami. These lists aren't about me.
3 – Authors of “Black Bloggers” Posts Don't Know Me
And, finally, not many of the people who added me to these lists know much about me except that I'm a black blogger. I'm added to these lists, the author copy and pastes something from my About Page, and I'm supposed to feel…what? Grateful? Seen? Heard? What?
- Do you know how it feels to be the only (or one of a few) black people attending events?
- Do you know how stressful it is to deal with social media drama with white people because you wonder how much of their hate is personal and how much is because of the color of my skin?
- Do you know that I was invited to speak at a conference in Australia and I was so excited (never been off the North American continent) until the host of the conference purposefully published a status update crediting Hitler for a peaceful and insightful quote that was by Gandhi?
- Do you know that I've lost friends over the past year because I don't believe that I'm a victim, I won't demonize other races, and I prefer to understand other points of view rather than attack them?
If you're going to add me to a list for “Black Bloggers,” in an effort to show support during racial times, shouldn't we talk about racism? Or, the struggles of being a black blogger? Oh, yeah, I forgot. Those types of conversations are uncomfortable. It's much easier to add a name to a list and move forward. Is this when I start the slow clap?
Is Being a Black Blogger Harder than Being a White Blogger?
I'm sure that there are many people who think white bloggers have it easier. I don't agree, however, I'm open to a discussion on why this is or isn't the case (share your thoughts in the comments).
I was blessed to be raised by a hardworking, educated black family. I was raised by a single mom, but she was a mom who had multiple bachelor's and master's degrees, owned her own home, and paid for my private education. In many ways, my mom was an excellent example of what I could do and she pushed me all my life to work harder and smarter and I took those lessons into adulthood. This is why I've had the success I've experienced in my career, my business, and my life.
Some may think that I'd have more success today if I were white, but I don't believe in these fantastical arguments – since we can't know what type of life I would have had been I born to a white family. So, let's move on.
Is it harder to be a black blogger? No. There are times when it's uncomfortable, but it's not harder – in my experience.
What it's Like to be a Black Blogger Today
I can't speak for all black bloggers. For me, personally, the challenges of being a black blogger are few and I think many people, regardless of race, can relate to these challenges.
- It sucks to be the only black person sometimes because it's a huge reminder that despite the thousands of Africans shipped to America in chains, we only make up 13% of the American population. When I go to pet-related events, I love meeting other black people who have found their dream in the pet industry. It's fun to connect, share thoughts and experiences, and just have a feeling of not being alone. Sometimes, it feels like only someone who shares my skin color can understand what it is to be me; so when you're surrounded by people NOT of your skin color, it can feel lonely, isolating, and, sometimes, intimidating.
- Racism exists everywhere, including the blogging and pet lover communities. People come for me harshly at times, and I'm left wondering if it's because I'm a truly awful human being who deserves the hate or if I'm witnessing racism. Recently, I was called out for unfriending people due to politics, I was accused of calling someone racist, and last year I was told that I was represented what was wrong with the Fresh Food Community. All of these statements came from white men and their comments were applauded by more white people. So, yes, a small part of me is always wondering how much of this vitriol is because I'm truly a hateful person and how much is because I'm black.
Social Justice Warriors are THE WORST
It's taken me a while to write this blog post. I didn't want to address racism again (this is the third time) on my blog and I do wonder how many people will be angry with me for sharing my thoughts. But, at almost nearly 50 years, I can honestly say that I've reached a level of not giving a damn.
I was following a discussion in a pet industry group where a man asked a question about dealing with “woke” employees. He was looking for advice on reasonable steps in this new world that we find ourselves in; but what he got was a series of lectures about how triggering his words were. I'm going to say something that will offend, so prepare yourself…
Whenever I see a white person lecturing another white person about racism and what black people (or people of color) find triggering, my asshole puckers, my head starts pounding, tears well up in my eyes, and I just want to start screaming “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!!!!”
1 – I am a proud, strong, successful black woman with a voice – I don't need others speaking on my behalf; especially when they get it so very wrong.
2 – Not everything is about race and I've learned that if I'm being triggered, I first need to look inside myself to learn WHY I'm being triggered BEFORE I start hurling accusations at others.
3 – When you speak for someone without their permission, you are taking away their voice while perpetuating division because you're sharing your thoughts from your point of view. No one can possibly know what it's like to be me, except for me. If you try, you'll get it wrong every single time.
I just wish that we could live in a world where we can have an honest conversation about life without offending someone because you used the wrong pronouns, because you said words like “subculture” or “pit bull,” or because the parties in the discussion are of different races.
Why I'm Not Just Thankful for the Recognition
If you've reached this far into this rant of mine and you're wondering why I'm not thankful that someone would add me to a Black Bloggers List, then thanks for sticking around. I am thankful, to a point, because I know many people create these lists from a good place. Last year, we were hit with a lot of anger and frustration, while being smacked in the face with the reality of the people around us. Creating a Black Bloggers List is a way for some to say “we see you.”
So, that being said, why am I saying not to add me to the list? After nearly a year of daily upheavals, I'm tired and these lists don't fix anything – they don't resolve racism, ignorance, and hatred. What I see today are people being racist on behalf of minorities. We've reached a point where people are afraid to share things about themselves or ask questions without being labeled as a racist. It's ridiculous. Why is everyone so damn triggered?
2020 taught me many things, one being that it's better for me to ask questions than react to my assumptions. So when someone shares something with me, instead of riding the Triggered Train, I respond with a question to better understand where they're coming from and avoid unnecessary conflict.
So, instead of creating a Black Bloggers list; maybe try and dive deep into why you feel inspired to create one of these lists. You might surprise yourself with what you discover and I think that blog post would be an interesting read.