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June 22, 2009

Blogging While Brown 2009: A Conference for People of Color with Lessons For All Bloggers

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"Fish where your buyers swim," said Milton Haynes of Blacks Gone Geek.

Before you hit publish, check your headline, "That's the most strategic choice you're about to make," said Megan Tady of Save The Internet.com. 

"Own your digital real estate," said Hajj E. Flemings, branding expert and author of "The Brand YU Life."

These quotes came from presenters at last weekend's 2nd annual Blogging While Brown conference held at the University Center in Chicago.  It's the kind of advice that's important for all bloggers but the attendees of BWB got that and much more.

BWB was launched last year by blogger Gina McCauley of the blogs What About Our Daughters and Michelle Obama Watch.  During her closing remarks this year she said, "My goal is to give you the tools and connections to do whatever you want to do."

The weekend kicked off with a Beginners Blogging Boot Camp on Friday to teach newbies the nuts and bolts of starting a blog.  The main event took place Saturday and covered a more advanced range of topics.  For example, "Using The Latest Tech Tools To Grow Your Blog," "Building A Strong Personal Brand Online," and "What's Next For Traditional Media?"

Now you might ask yourself, isn't that the kind of stuff all bloggers would like to learn?  What's the point of having a blogging conference for just people of color?

The answer is, it's an opportunity for people of color bloggers to bond with a group of blogging peers who often face the same challenges as they do.  These were people of color, energized and enthusiastic about the internet and technology, and bursting with ideas to explore its power. 

An additional benefit, and no less important, is it allows those people of color who write about politics and social change to start building a formal or informal network that can be mobilized to influence public policy.  

According to eMarketer.com, last year nearly 47% of the black population were internet users. Their 2007 report also estimates that "In four years, 56% of African-Americans will be online, roughly the same percentage as Hispanics." 

With a black president in office, this group of black bloggers attending BWB was proud of the role many of them played during the campaign to get the perspective of people of color out to the mainstream media.  Part of the discussion at BWB involved trying to find ways to build on that momentum.

Speakers and panelists at the conference included Angel Laws, the creator of the popular entertainment blog, Concrete Loop, Megan Tady of Save The Internet,  Sabrina Miller of Hit Me Back! and Carmen Dixon Rosenzweig of All About Race.  Milton Haynes of Blacks Gone Geek gave a presentation about prepping your blog pitch, Fredric Mitchell, a professional web developer talked about the importance of knowing how your blogging platform operates, and Bruce Montgomery, host of the Chicago weekly TV show, Technology Access Television talked about the current state of mainstream media.

Cheryl Contee who writes as Jill Tubman on the blog Jack and Jill Politics talked about the importance of finding allies within the blogosphere.  She encouraged bloggers to find allies among people who share the same agenda.  No matter the color, no matter the ethnicity.  "Diversity is a strategy, not a color."

But what did some of the attendees think of the conference?  Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb and her partner Sherry Howard are about to launch a site called We Are Black Women.com for black women over forty.

Attendee Philena Rush on the most significant thing she learned at the conference:

You can see more of my BWB video interviews on my YouTube channel.

Sponsors for the conference were AT&T, who provided 20 scholarships for people to attend, BlogHer, Daily Kos, BlackPR.com, NextGenWeb and Freepress.net.

Tomorrow I'll post my personal thoughts and feelings about the conference and what important tech tips I learned.  I'll also tell you how I ended up having lunch with several good looking men.  They'll be more photos and video interviews, including one I did with Angel Laws of Concrete Loop. 

Then on Wednesday, my final BlogHer BWB post will include an interview with organizer Gina McCauley.

Thanks to Gina and Shawn P. Williams of the Dallas South blog who kept the conference running on time.  Also thanks to Shalon Evans who worked behind the scenes and was then the welcoming face at the registration desk.

 

Related Links:

What About Our Daughters:  "Oops We Did It Again:  Blogging While Brown"

Luvvie at Awesomely Luvvie thought Blogging While Brown Rocked!

BWB bloggers on digital activism's past, present and future

Everyday Citizen:  Hot Time In The Old Town, Blogging While Brown by Zola Jones

Next Gen Web at Blogging While Brown (includes video of the panels)

 

Here's a list of conference participants courtesy of Everyday Citizen.  There's some great stuff here so do yourself a favor and check them out:

5 and a Possible, A Buzz in Your Ear, Acts of Faith in Love and Life, Afrobella, All About Race, Around Harlem, Around NYC, Awesomely Luvvie, Beckie Has a Blog, Beyond-isms, Black Gyrl Cancer Slayer, Black PR, Blacks Gone Geek, Blank Bare Clean, Blog Not War, blogHer, Bronzeville Change, Brother Bartell, Brown and Bridal, But You Are A Girl, Carlos in DC, Change You Can See, Chartreuse, Color of Change, Concrete Loop, Consumer Blast, Cyber PR Urban, D Jones Productions, Dallas South Blog (go Dallas South!), Dante Lee, Dragon Fly, Ebony Jet, Flack Me, Fresh Manna of the Day, Global Wire, Global Wire, Goddess Intellect, Hajj Flemings, Harmonic Leadership, Haute Muslim, Have a Wonderful, I Hate My Developer, IT Empowers U, Jack and Jill Politics, Jamal Street Journal, Kiamsha.com:That Which Awakens Me, Listen to Leon, Live Life Posh, Locs and Dreams, Love a Black Woman, Marty Blogs, Megans Minute, Michelle Obama Watch, Miss Theda, Mocha Mom 365, Monroe Anderson, Naomi Christine, Pams House Blend, Peruanista, Philena, Photo Solitude, Pocket Book Protest, Project New Era, Queen Tahj, Save the Internet, See Your Worth, Small World View, Social Media Socialite, South Shore Chamber, TATV, The Joba Group, The Smak, The SuperSpade, Theo Talks, Urban Beauty, Urban Science, UWISHUNU, We Are Black Women, What About Our Daughters, Woman Body and Soul, YBP Guide.

 

BWB Group Photo By  FreddyO.

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