Friday, January 01, 2016

Coming Home


Ten years ago, I sat down at my computer and wrote the first post on the socially-constructed, political notion of "race" on this blog. I did it because I was teaching sociology at the University of South Florida in Tampa at the time and my students wanted to talk about race. As an adjunct, however, I had no office and no faculty privileges to speak of, so I would often wind up standing next to my car for hours after class ended at 10:00 pm. I couldn't resist the students' energy and I was learning a lot from my Black students in particular. But dragging home after midnight was not something I wanted to do on a regular basis.

So I started a small discussion group for students to attend in a conference room at the library only to decide in short order that I was now teaching a whole extra class at the university for which I wasn't being paid. Then, during Christmas break in 2005, I remembered that I had started a blog in September which I walked away from after a month of writing posts not even I wanted to read. And it occurred to me that I could change the blog topic to race and see how that went. After all, I could write it at home in my pajamas, my students could read it in the middle of the night if they chose, and rather than explaining the same things over and over and over to different students, I could answer their questions by referring them to particular posts that would remain archived online indefinitely.

It seemed like a no brainer.

At the time, I was paying my basic bills by teaching a few courses at a couple of different schools. I had no health insurance or other benefits, but then I had no car payment either and only a tiny apartment, so the blogosphere became my home and I loved it. I wrote happily and at length. And when I wasn't writing, I was reading other blogs, most generally on race, leaving comments that would refer readers back to my own blog to build my readership.

I wrote from the beginning for publication. I did not write for fun, though I am, in truth, a writer who lives and breathes to write. Sometimes I would work on one post for seven or eight hours, looking for links I wanted to embed, finding just the right illustrations, and crafting the text with great care. I never just threw something up. Over time, I discovered and began to add YouTube videos, including lots and lots of great music, and eventually, the blog -- with its blog roll, its widgets, and its links -- took shape to became what it is today. Having received 450,000 hits in 187 countries, it may not be the Huffington Post, but it has certainly made a dent.

I turned down a couple of opportunities to add other writers because Why Am I Not Surprised? is a personal labor of love. I have been so invested in it since the beginning that I could never imagine making it a group or even a dual effort. It is a legacy I hope to leave the world when I go.

Still, I have occasionally asked to re-post particular writer's works from time to time when their power so captured me that I longed to present them in this space. And that has increasingly occurred as time went by because, once the space became a platform internationally, I felt a responsibility to use it to highlight written work by People of Color with extraordinary clarity of vision and voices as strong or stronger than mine.

When Ferguson blew up, I was too depressed to write on this blog. I feared a coming bloodbath. I agonized over the pain being rained down on Black Americans. I found myself raging and concerned that my rage would wind up instigating more negative than positive results. So I posted a video of young people in Ferguson explaining why they were carrying out their campaign and posted nothing else for six months after that.

Since then, I've re-posted a few things. I've posted a couple of photos of myself (which I had not done before). And I admitted that I was working on other projects. But despite my disappearance, this blog had thirty thousand hits this year. And I am grateful. So, on this tenth anniversary of the launch of this blog, I must acknowledge the importance of our connection in this space. Ashe'.

I am currently finishing the latest edit of a book I've been crafting and re-crafting for some time using my life as a construct to talk about race relations in the U.S. It's titled Reduced to Equality: My Odyssey to Renounce Racial Privilege ~ and Find Myself (see photo above). And I hope it will be available on within a couple of weeks. It keeps unfolding. In fact, just this morning, I re-wrote the ending to include two more pages to make sure I made my point. Once that book is done, I'll finish compiling some of the best of my posts from this blog and release that as a paperback, as well, because I know not everyone has access to the internet and I want to reach as many as possible with the messages I've been called to deliver.

I still have a full-time job teaching sociology. I have a healthy handful of other very demanding projects besides this blog. And I am, after all, only a human being, who will, by the way, celebrate her seventieth birthday in April. But this is not something I do to feed my ego. Fighting injustice is my mission. And this blog is one of the tools I use to fulfill it.


veganelder said...

It's good to see another post from you. I'm looking forward to the book. Congratulations! And...congratulations on your upcoming birthday too.

I thank you for your efforts.

changeseeker said...

Thanks, VeganElder. It's a pleasure to greet you in the New Year. I often consider that in a slower paced world, you and I might have found an opportunity to meet face to face. My efforts are only worthwhile when readers such as yourself are inspired by them to make their own.