Justice Fergie on Race and Blogging

I’ve been to many blogging conferences and had a mostly white experience. I’ve wondered why there weren’t more non-white people in attendance. I went searching online to find out if I was just missing something and found Blogalicious, a celebration of diversity in social media. This was about a year ago and after looking it over, I moved on, thinking it wasn’t for me because I’m white. Obviously, I didn’t read what the conference is about very well. It also shows how my thinking has been in the past, which I’m trying to change now.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I started thinking and writing about race that I revisited the Blogalicious website after Kelly brought it up in an email exchange. Blogalicious Founder Stacey created the online community BeBlogalicious. They have a conference coming up October 21-23 which sounds really great. Stacey was kind enough to answer some of my questions. (You can find Stacey/Justice Fergie on Twitter.)

Was there a particular moment when you knew you wanted to start Blogalicious or was it a more slow-coming-about process?

It was a slow coming-about process. Pretty much all of the attendees of the blogging conferences around the time that we decided to plan a conference to celebrate diversity in 2009 were quite homogenous. Also, we were seeing the same handful of bloggers being offered all of the opportunities to work with brands. We were hoping to broaden the horizon and show advertisers that a fantastic and diverse blogging community existed.

What need is Blogalicious filling?

Blogalicious strives to fill the need of giving ownership of a corner of the social media landscape to those generally cut out of the popular conversations, events and opportunities. Part of our credo is that Blogalicious is for THE COMMUNITY. It’s not about us. We want bloggers of all backgrounds to feel as if Blogalicious is theirs to fulfill whatever need it is that they need to fulfill; whether it be the chance to network with power bloggers, to educate themselves about social media, to raise their own profiles and brand images, or to promote their businesses and blogs – we want our community to make Blogalicious their platform.

How do you think it’s doing at addressing that need?

I think we’re doing a decent job 🙂 The best evidence is that the Blogalicious name has taken on a meaning of its own. We are propelled by the community that we’ve created. We started out planning to host a small conference; now we have an online community (BeBlogalicious.com), eBooks being published, meetups around the country, a documentary about it and so much more. As @brokesocialite says in our movie trailer: “Blogalicious is a movement. It can’t be contained to an event or a website – it’s a spiritual experience.” I think that speaks volumes.

What kind of feedback do you get about the conference?

The feedback we continue to receive is unbelievable. We literally get emails weekly from people telling us how Blogalicious has changed their lives. Just last month a blogger came up to me at a meetup crying and saying that there’s no words to describe how important Blogalicious is to her. It’s heartwarming. The support from brands has been amazing as well. It’s as if they were waiting for an opportunity to reach a multicultural audience.

How do you see/hope the landscape of the blogging world changing?

I think it’s changing as we speak. There’s already so many new and exciting voices making names for themselves, which is a far cry from what the blogosphere looked like 5 years ago when I started. I think that there is a definite sense of community, which is important. My hope is that we continue to uplift each other and to share information and opportunities. There’s plenty to go around!

Your recent post on Babble where you say making a separate list to honor non-white women isn’t a great idea seems to contradict your creating a separate conference. Can you tell me more about how you feel regarding that?

Interesting perspective! I can see your point. But actually, I don’t think that the two can be compared. Here’s why: Blogalicious is not “a separate conference.” We’ve been very adamant from the get-go that it’s a conference to celebrate diversity, meaning that it’s inclusive and EVERYONE’S invited. It’s a conference where everyone can feel welcome – moms and non; white and non; skilled bloggers and non – you get the idea.

What is something everyone can do daily to help diversify their online world?

Read someone with a differing viewpoint that yours; attend an event you might not otherwise attend; the key is to step outside of your comfort zone. Oh and of course, attend Blogalicious ’11 😉

Watch the trailer for the documentary here:

1 Response

  1. Great interview!

    I just want to chime in on how diverse and inclusive Blogalicious ’10 was! I went, as a speaker, and was a little bit concerned because I wouldn’t want to be part of a dynamic where Big White Expert comes in and tells the bloggers of color what to do — but it was not at all like that. The group was majority women of color, but I would guess that between 20-30% were white. I was also impressed that, like BlogHer events, there were also visible LGBTQ participants. It wasn’t a big deal, it was just inclusive. Which is a fantastic accomplishment!

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