Blogging, to me, feels like a form of ritual magic. You sit alone, focusing deeply, and you thrust your energy out into the universe, not knowing whom it will touch. (At this point, I'm not touching many.) But you can sense it rippling. Your energy is out there.
On the receiving end, the metaphor still holds. Other bloggers sit alone, concentrating to the utmost, hitting those keystrokes, and then... instantly, their thoughts are swimming around with mine inside my head. It's magic!
Peep over to the right, you’ll see what kinds of blogs I check out on a regular basis. I get a particular tingle reading black people’s blogs. Because the good ones provide a range of voices I can’t hardly find anywhere in the corporate-owned media.
I’m a cable-news junkie, right? Three cable-news channels, each with a 24-hour news hole, and not one black host. (Okay, Alison Stewart on MSNBC. That’s one. And she’s not saying anything.) On late-night, we had Arsenio for a hot minute. (Don’t act like y’all forgot.) Nowadays, even black guests of the sit-and-talk variety are scarce on Letterman, Leno, Conan, et. al. It’s like we’ve come no distance since the Johnny Carson era.
The weekend political chats? There’s Clarence Page, Gwen Ifill and nobody else.
Even on commercial websites, ain’t much happening. I like Troy Patterson’s TV criticism for Slate. John Ridley and Trey Ellis are saying some things at the Huffington Post.
But in the grassroots blogosphere, I’m seeing salty black satire, and prose that pops with personality, and cultural commentary that digs way deeper than your average op-ed page.
Consider some examples from just the past few days…
Byron Crawford, a.k.a. “Bol,” has a hip-hop blog that hones barbershop shit talk to a fine art, as with this post on Thursday:
The fact that Whitney Houston is now broke enough to be selling off her shit at auction seems to lend credence to her claim that she doesn't smoke crack. Because surely you could buy all the crack there ever was with just the money she made from the motherfucking Bodyguard.
Granted I'm sure a lot of it went to pay child support for Bobby Brown's 10 or 15 children, which is why she's also auctioning off his old Grammys and gold records and such.
Crawford, who also writes for XXLmag.com, is intentionally outrageous but undeniably smart.
A tad less outrageous and a tad more smart is “Shark-fu,” a young woman whose blog is titled AngryBlackBitch. I am charmed by her carefully crafted blogging style, which includes lots of “winks,” “blinks” and “sighs,” and constant reference to herself in third person as “a bitch” or “this bitch.”
On Thursday, she blogged about Oprah Winfrey’s newest philanthropic venture:
Did you know that Oprah opened up a school for young women in South Africa?
Of course you did!
Couldn’t miss that shit with a map and a plan, could you (wink)?
A bitch has run the spectrum of emotions about Oprah’s new school. My ass has separated my dislike of the star fucking that always accompanies shit like this (mark my words, someone is going to come up pregnant) from my honest respect for Ms. Oprah and what she has been able to accomplish.
I’m not the only one charmed by this bitch; AngryBlackBitch gets 5,000 site visits a week!
Pause... collect thyself... continue.
Someone else operating entirely behind the cloak of a self-invented persona is The Assimilated Negro. Race and class, sex and relationships, hip-hop and comedy, TAN’s got all that covered. I like his twisted take on things. Like on Friday, when he saluted Wesley Autrey, the New York City “Subway Superman” who risked his life to save a stranger who’d fallen into the path of an oncoming train. (Is that what a black man’s gotta do to get on Letterman?)
The Assimilated Negro wonders what might’ve happened if Wesley Autrey saved someone’s girlfriend or wife while the boyfriend/husband stood by frozen in panic:
... I'm totally amused by the idea that someone's partner falls in, they don't have the balls to save them, but this guy does. ... Would the relationship be over? If it were a married couple, would you just hold it over their head for the rest of all time? “I know you couldn't save me on the train tracks earlier, so just plan on taking out the trash and washing the dishes in perpetuity. Thanks. Oh, and the oral sex? Wesley's gonna be receiving that going forward. Just FYI.”
Conducting itself on a loftier plane is Blackprof.com, where a variety of black academicians hang out. Topics run the gamut from the Duke lacrosse case to the Iraq war, from the Williams sisters to subtle corporate racism. Ideologically, Blackprof has a leftward lean.
On Friday, Shavar Jeffries, a Seton Hall law professor, rebutted a New York Times op-ed piece by Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson. Patterson cited Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and Deval Patrick to make the case that black Americans finally have penetrated the highest ranks of political and cultural elitedom.
Prof. Jeffries retorted:
Oprah Winfrey may be a cultural force, but Black influence culturally and artistically has always been an indelible element of American life. In any case, the corporate gatekeepers of the means by which cultural products are disseminated remain controlled by a White elite.... Condi’s appointment proves nothing more than Thurgood Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court 40 years ago: supremely talented individual African-Americans, under the right circumstances, can ascend aberrationally to high places.
Chuck D used to say that rap music was black people’s CNN. Today, blogging is our “Dick Cavett Show.”