“It is the next media solution and everybody needs to be a part of it,” says Gina MacCauley when discussing the importance of online accessibility. MacCauley is the organizer of the first annual Blogging While Brown: The International Conference for Bloggers of Color which will commence on July 25-27, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.
While there has always been a significant online presence of bloggers of color, their significance was marked not by the amount of bloggers but by the content they provided, from breaking news stories that would have been otherwise buried or ignored by mainstream media to providing personal commentaries that resonated with those who could not find similarities with the more popular, ‘mainstream’ bloggers. Within the past few years the amount of people of color starting their own online journals has seen a significant increase, as people are recognizing the value of being able to transport information in a relatively easy and accessible manner. But even with this increase, there are still issues that segregate bloggers of color from others - even when they write and report on the same topic matter.
Inspired by the larger technology conferences, such as SXSW, Blogher and YearlyKos, MacCauley felt that now was the time to create a conference, which while focused on bloggers whose online presence and perspectives are centered on their ethno-cultural identity, is open to everyone. It also serves as a forum in which people can discuss emerging online technologies and tricks and tools of the trade in a more inclusive and diverse space, something at was notably lacking and widely publicized at this years YearlyKos conference. She also mentions that because of the 2008 Presidential Election and the amount of bloggers whose focus is not only on the election but on the political happenings in their communities, next summer is a great time for bloggers of color to congregate and network. “The focus is to address the needs of people who still feel that they are underserved online,” she adds.
MacCauley’s blog, What About Our Daughters is a prime example of the power of online activism and promoting awareness on issues that are usually ignored by traditional mainstream outlets. Her work on the Dunbar Village case and her mission to combat negative portrayals of black women has given her the reputation of being a fearless and relentless online activist. Online blogging networks such as AfroSpear were integral in the Jena 6 demonstration, and several bloggers of colour are active in creating and transmitting online petitions and providing timely information and analysis on both domestic and international issues. The conference, which while has four tracks of interest, will in part, address the pros and cons of online activism but will also offer a wide range of issues, from people who are just getting their feet wet in blogging, to more focused topics, such as parenting, social networking, increasing traffic and implementing new technologies onto your sites.
Stressing that the development of the conference will remain ‘organic’ in nature, as the purpose is to provide attendees with what they feel is necessary to assist them in their blogging experience, Gina encourages people to participate in the organizational process as much as they can.
1. You can check out the Blogging while Brown Conference Website
2. Go to the blog to see the suggested topics and the four conference tracks (tentative)
3. Participate in the next organizing conference call NOTE: There was one yesterday (November 7th) but stay tuned for the announcement for the next one. Gina will be posting the transcripts from this call shortly on the blog.
4. Join the Blogging While Brown Google group