Q1. What were you like when you were younger?
I would say I was a strange child. At nine, I wanted to be Dr. King. I wanted to make history. I realize this might come off as arrogant, but I was a sensitive child who could not understand injustice and mistreatment of anybody. While I couldn’t articulate it, very early on I knew I wanted to be involved in civil rights, human rights. When I say I wanted to make history, it wasn’t about personal fame but a desire to make a difference. When the “I have a Dream” speech played each year, I was awestruck every time. I wanted to help realize the dream. I wanted to a lawyer, teacher, writer or activist- any vocation that would allow me to serve others. I have been interested in social justice, diversity, multiculturalism and the arts my entire life.
Well, I think I just made it pretty clear who was one of the earliest influences on me. Others would include Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan and Benazir Bhutto. Each of these political figures dared to speak and act on their convictions. I quote Chisholm a lot because her actions and ideas resonate with how I try to live. When I was in eighth grade, my social studies teacher gave me a biography of Barbara Jordan. Ms. Jordan was a force to be reckoned with. She spoke her mind and a Black woman out of Texas? Do I need to say more? Bhutto believed so much in her country and its right to be a free democracy she was willing to die for it. She remained politically active knowing it could cost her life and it did. That is courage and conviction.
The foot soldiers of grassroots of organizations are folks you can’t google even if I shared their names. I will name an organization that matters to me, and that is Alternatives For Girls. It’s where I run the library. The work AFG does is important and we need all the support we can get. The agency provides outreach services, prevention services and houses a shelter for at risk girls in the city of Detroit.
Establish and run my own literary arts for youth nonprofit. Establish a legacy fund for young people.
I’ve been online more than a decade. I’ve witnessed the evolution of communities from listserves to message boards to IM messaging, websites to blogs. I dug my roots online with a black poetry site out of Chicago and a diversity forum based out of Florida. I became a permanent fixture in both communities. You’re not a member unless you are truly active in a community.
Q6. Tell us about your current blogging career and how you got into it.
I started blogging in order to teach Color Online members how to use technology to express their art and views, to inform potential supporters about our efforts and to inform readers about writers that they might not otherwise ever learn about or read.
We are a literary community, so the blogs I read most are literature focused. Color Online is also about community service and activism so I read blogs that promote empowerment and activism. Limiting it to two is really difficult. I check in on average fifteen to twenty blogs daily but if you insist, I recommend Fledgling (BBR #1599)written by Zetta Elliot, a Black feminist, writer and educator. I also read The Bottom of Heaven (BBR #1626) written by Claudia and Frieda, two articulate Black women who focus on Black culture.
I’d like to see readership increase, but I’m not interested in being popular as much as my goal is to make an impact. I want to impact young people. I want to spread the message about the importance of literacy. It is beyond me why there isn’t a real focus on getting our kids to read and write. We have all kinds of youth programs and too many of them of missing the mark by failing to stress literacy, and literacy in the broader sense means having cultural awareness. Knowing how to read and write is not what it means to be a literate individual. It is the awareness of the world around you, an ability to communicate your ideas and views effectively. It is a desire to be connected with others. I want Color Online to inspire young people to become active in their communities. I want Color Online to be a literary portal, a place where readers, educators, writers and activists engage one another, share information and support projects and works that empower women of color, which in turn means empowering communities.
Q9. What is your 'killer post' over the past year ... the post you are most proud of?
I don’t think I have a killer post because my aim isn’t a single shot but a cohesive, consistent flow of information that provides readers and educators with works that are relevant to their populations. I think it is important to share with readers that Color Online is a tool I use to promote literacy. In addition to publishing the blog, I run our physical library at a local nonprofit, which means book acquisition, operating the library, soliciting donations, hosting events and workshops and mentoring young women. I also run our online discussion forum. The feature I am most proud of is our Potpourri quiz. It is a fun, easy way for me to provide information about women of color writers and other women who have made important contributions to society.
Q10. What is your 'biggest noise post' over the past year ... the one that you took the most heat over from your readers?
Our blog is still in its infancy stage. While our group was formed in 2005, the blog was created the end of 2007, and we’re just now really getting a solid footing. I’d say I have stirred the pot more on a few occasions as a participant on other blogs. Most recently I expressed an unpopular opinion during a discussion about a book about rape. I criticized the tone and direction of the discussion, which I felt was dismissive and counterproductive. I knew saying so wasn’t going to be well received (there was a barrage of complaints) but that didn’t matter. I felt it was important to speak up. And for me, it isn’t about being right or convincing others of my point of view, it is about speaking up. Audre Lorde wrote our silence does not save us so it’s best we speak our truth. The goal isn’t to convince others to agree with me and I don’t want others’ approval. The goal is dialogue, the exchange of ideas and considering other perspectives. As long as we’re challenging the message and not attacking the messenger, there shouldn’t be any censorship.