The real conspiracies are worse than the wild conspiracy theories

To me, the difficult thing about writing is choosing what to write about. There’s just so much happening all the time. Do I write about the country’s racist history or policies or population? Do I write about our own Black history? Do I just write about the most recent time I got pulled over? What issue do I want to draw focus to in the moment? There’s a responsibility in that question that is clouded over by an ever-changing media landscape, peoples’ personal habits and now more than ever, conspiracy theories.

As a member of the media, a person with an audience and just as a person, the abundance of conspiracy theories in the public square is terrifying. It points to how few of us have to acknowledge the shared reality and I worry that it’s just going to get worse.

The thing that’s always bothered me about conspiracy theories is that generally, they are obviously and flatly false. For instance, I think a lot of people buy into the idea that there is a group of mysterious people who control all of the wealth and politicians and pull all of these strings from behind a secret curtain somewhere just out of sight.

I hate this idea so much for so many reasons. I hate it because believing it dismisses our own agency as a citizenry. I hate it because it’s an argument from ignorance. I especially hate it because the opposite is true and the truth is actually in our faces all the time.

Do the wealthy control everything? Absolutely. But are they hiding it? Fuck, no! They brag about that shit! It’s not a secret. They’re constantly shouting it from the rooftops, all of which they own.

Here’s how not-a-secret it is: 101 years ago Bertie Charles Forbes created Forbes magazine. Currently Bertie’s grandson, billionaire Steve Forbes, is the editor-in-chief. If you were to flip through the magazine you would quickly see that it is the voice of the wealthy publicly celebrating themselves as masters over all they see and imagine including the rest of us. And they’re so fucking ostentatiously proud of it they name the shit after themselves.

And, yes, I mean ostentatious.

If I were to tell you that the wealthy actually celebrate surging wealth inequality as a happy sign that life is becoming much more convenient, you might say, “Well, they probably think it and maybe they say some monstrous shit like that behind closed doors, maybe, but that’s not really something you can prove.”

And if that were to be your response, I would gladly direct you to a recent Forbes article, unironically titled, Surging Wealth Inequality is a Happy Sign that Life is Becoming Much More Convenient.

It’s the furthest thing from a conspiracy, though it is somehow believed to be.

That being said, things are different if you’re Black.

Very different.

That Forbes article begins with, “Two hundred years ago the American people were quite a bit more equal in terms of wealth…”

Just like my enslaved ancestors at the time, I know I wouldn’t have been considered any kind of equal two-hundred years ago. Or considered American. Or people. And that information, that the opening line conveniently leaves out is the shadow of a very tall tree with very real conspiracies for every branch, like nooses.

There are intimate conspiracies between individuals like the recent police frame job in Florida. There are more widely-spread conspiracies involving multiple institutions like red lining. There are even full-on, 40-year-long conspiracies of Nazi-style human experimentation perpetuated by the United States Government like the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

Like I said, it’s a very tall tree.

I’m not saying there aren’t conspiracies based things aside from race. There definitely are. What I am saying is that there is a reality we can choose and a reality that is forced upon us and not understanding the difference can mean falling victim to both.

But understanding the difference can mean undoing both and making an objectively better world for everyone.


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Writers of color…to me, my friends!

For some time now, I’ve been attempting to cultivate writers of color here at Black Girl in Maine. I have had some contributors, but lately, life seems to be interfering, either with other obligations on their part or writer’s block. So, I’m putting out a new call for writers. The more, the merrier (within reason; I’m still a small but scrappy operation).

Best thing (well, one of them anyway): I pay. While I certainly hope you get plenty of exposure, I don’t (as many other sites do) pay in exposure. I don’t pay in hits/page views. I pay you a flat fee when you hand in the post and I deem it appropriate to post on BGIM.

Sure, I pay a small amount right now. As BGIM the blog works its way toward being BGIM Media and I add podcasts and such, I plan to bring in more income, and thus pay more to writers. But again, I do pay something…that exposure won’t buy you any groceries or gas.

Now, I know there are plenty of fine white writers out there, penning stuff on race. And I have one here already, An Average White Guy. That’s important, because this space is for white people and people of color. It is a place of education for both, and support/encouragement of both. I’ve long said that white people need to reach out to other white people, and that’s why I have An Average White Guy.

But beyond that, I need writers of color. Black ones. Latinx ones. Native American ones. You name it. Sure, I’m probably partial to those three mostly and likely in that order, but I am not trying to make this place monochromatic in a non-white fashion. I want to promote many voices of color.

And while anti-Black oppression and systemic racism are my forte around here, I also want to see intersectionality with issues like class, gender, sexuality, religion and more.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: No, you don’t have to be a New England-based person to write for BGIM…my readership goes well beyond the Northeastern United States.

Interested? Drop me a line, shoot your best shot and email me at blackgirlinmaine@gmail.com 

Creativity under pressure…coming soon, an e-book!

It seems that in less than two weeks when I cross over to my fourth decade of life, I will be celebrating another milestone; five years as a blogger. In blog world that almost feels like a lifetime, granted by blog standards, I am most likely middle aged. In my five years of active blogging and the seven years since I have discovered the world of blogs, the digital landscape has most certainly changed.

Back when I started this crazy space, most bloggers were simply people with something to say, information to share, stories to tell. The concept of blogging as a way to generate income was largely relegated to a select few. Sure, you could put up a tip jar if you had a situation or enough readers, or maybe some ads but it wasn’t the business and industry that it has become. Considering that a few days ago, I cleaned out 1400 emails from my blog email account, trust me, the game has changed.

The downside of that change both as a whole and for me personally is that I am always mindful of what I write. In my earlier posts, I would prattle on without a thought in the world. Of course, back in 2008, I only had a handful of readers at best. So truly I was just talking to myself and a few friends and family members.  Yet, upon entering the mom-o-sphere of bloggers since being discovered by “that” list, suddenly my sacred space was no longer sacred. Almost any known blogger can tell you, that there are people who sit around waiting to catch bloggers slipping or for any inconsistencies in their stories and in some cases relish the opportunity to put them on blast. It’s messy stuff and I have been fortunate that to a large degree I continue in my little corner of the world. No need to wait for me to get messy, I fully own my messy. Which is why a post like this is hard even for me because it requires a level of vulnerability that I am no longer comfortable expressing publicly.

For the past several weeks, I have been working on a project that was inspired by my old college adviser. After years of lamenting how I want to write a book, she pointed out that with 5 years and almost 900 blog posts, I have written a book, and this space is more than the size of a full length manuscript. I went back through my archives and realized that she was right; I have written more than a book here, hell, it’s several books of material. So I have been working on breaking things down into themes and long story short turning the first three years of my blogging into an e-book that I was hoping to have ready to go by March 1.

However the recent turn of events means I need to rethink my plan, since the reality is that to do the things I need to do including visiting my dad and dealing with his situation requires cold hard cash. I am finally out of debt and in a relatively stable place financially and I am not interested in messing that up. But as member of the sandwich generation with one kid in college and an aging father, it means it doesn’t take much to take my plans for stability and turn them on their head.  Which means I need to create an additional revenue stream like yesterday!  So I am working on a mini e-book that I will have up and ready for purchase within the next two weeks. It’s a collection of posts that have been cleaned up and focus on the themes of race and class from the lens of my thirty five year old self. At over 22,000 words and still in a stage two rough draft, it’s a quick read but not too quick and gives readers the ease of reading my work in one continuous read. I have added new insights, so it’s not a complete re-hashing of what has been on the blog forever.

The e-book will be available by donation, there may be a minimum suggested donation of $3 though I am leaning towards a pay what you feel deal and will trust that it all works out in the end. It will be in a downloadable PDF format.  The old saying that necessity is the mother of invention is true, though it might be more accurate to say that necessity is making me get creative under pressure.  Creativity under pressure is hard but at the same time this process is something that I have wanted to do, so the universe just gave me a kick in the ass via my Dad.

So, I would be honored if you decide to purchase a copy of my musings and if anyone does so before the official release date of February 4, you will get a little extra gift for your support.

Phew, that was hard.

PS: No pressure but a reader just  informed me that finding the link to pre-order wasn’t easy to find, so I am including it in this post.