Random babble

BGIM Media Expansion Update

Greetings friends! It’s January 2017, and I just wanted to give everyone an update on the status of the Black Girl in Maine expansion efforts. In a nutshell: Slower and far costlier than expected.

As you may have noticed over the past several months, I have taken on a few contributors: Teddy Burrage, Marena Blanchard and Average White Guy. Your support of this space has made it possible to do this and offer compensation to our contributors which, while nominal, will be increasing as I look to add on a few more new contributors. Over 70-plus blog posts were written in 2016 and the BGIM Facebook space has grown by leaps and bounds as we continue to post articles of interest and share important thoughts on a daily basis.

While it has been wonderful to see so many people wanting to understand racism, it also has a downside. There were two major hacking incidents on the blog between October 2016 and December 2016, resulting in an extensive upgrade on the back end to keep the site safe. These efforts will continue into 2017 as I install a firewall. As I have learned, sites that focus on race, religion and politics are popular with hackers. The safety measures that I now have to undertake are not free; thankfully, patrons allow me to run the site which as it grows does incur regular expenses: Contributor fees, hosting, security, and a minimal level of compensation for my own time.

Moving ahead, part of the BGIM Media expansion involved adding podcasts. which right now is projected to be up and running by late February. Creating a quality podcast requires an investment of equipment and time, of course, and a longtime reader of this space who is a sound engineer has offered to help me get up to speed on learning the technical aspects. For this I am immensely grateful, as the process has been a bit overwhelming at times.

With the expansion into podcasting, I have been looking at a site redesign that will allow for ease of use, as well as integrating the podcast and blog posts onto the same site. But that process has been slower than expected as the site has graduated to the point that my own skills are no longer enough for redesigning it. I am in the process of getting final estimates from local Maine-based firms including one woman-of-color-run design firm as well as another women-owned firm. Supporting local business, especially any POC-owned businesses, is important to me as there is a link that I have written about in the past between race, gender and economics.

Unlike many media operations, BGIM is a sole proprietorship and I do this work while juggling my day job as executive director of the oldest, continuously running anti-racism organization in the country. A position that, while lovely, sounds far more impressive than the reality of being the only full-time employee at a scrappy little non-profit in challenging times. I also wear other hats that include mom and now grandmother.

This site is truly a labor of love and my way to make a direct difference in the world, but it does require patrons and donations to sustain it. So for those who have supported the site with a financial gift, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your support has been and continues to invaluable to me and very much appreciated. If you have never contributed and you have the means, please consider becoming a monthly donor or make a one-time gift. Your support does matter.

Lastly the first several podcasts will be for patrons only. I suspect they will be a bit raw, but it is my way to show my appreciation for your belief in this work.


Shay aka Black Girl in Maine 

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Reflections on 2016, or Our nation’s dark night of the soul

As 2016 winds down, I find myself reflecting on this past year and realizing that for the collective, it was a no-good, very uncomfortable year. We saw the passing of many of our beloved cultural icons, from David Bowie to Prince and, as of this writing, Carrie Fisher. 2016 has been a year marked by loss. Loss of cultural figures, loss of dreams and possibly even the loss of democracy as we once understood it with the rise of white nationalism and Donald Trump’s win.

We close 2016 on shaky ground with a sense of dread and the reality that once Trump takes the reins, none of us knows what is going to happen. We will have a man who is woefully unprepared for the hardest job on the planet who by all appearances lacks self control and the willingness to admit his shortcomings and, instead, seems hell-bent on surrounding himself with other incompetents.

For many, the future seems hopeless. Yet, often it is in the darkest moments, where we are forced to face the unspeakable, that we can find the strength to forge ahead into the great unknown.

I know far more about facing the dark moments than I care to admit. Both personally and professionally, I entered 2016 with a sense of uncertainty and dread. Sometimes a dark night of the soul is what we need to move forward and change course. As a nation, we appear to be in the midst of that darkness because as a whole, we have never really been forced to face our collective soul and truly see the evils and threats therein. So, while this time may be uncomfortable, I hope it also can be a catalyst for change.

I end this year with an extreme sense of exhaustion, but an exhaustion born out of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and learning that if I could allow myself to sit with the discomfort, and not allow it consume me, that change is possible.

We are the change we seek.

We can’t change the outcome of the election and what has already happened but we can all work toward change in our spheres. It won’t be easy, but then again, is change (however necessary) ever really easy?

In a fair and just world, things would be easy when it came to justice, fairness and honor. But we don’t live in a fair and just world; we live in a world where the sun shines equally on the just and unjust. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and it seems nothing bad ever touches people who are the love-children of Satan.

I admit that for the last post of the year, this may not be what readers expect, but these are the words that I have in this moment to share and, while they may not be terribly comforting, these words are my personal truth.  

As we wind down 2016, I wish you a good 2017 because no matter what we as the collective face of America, the potential for good is still present for us all. I thank you for sharing this space with me and for your support of this space. In closing, I am also sharing the video from my recent TED Talk, one of the many bucket items that I fulfilled this year. I look forward to seeing you again in 2017.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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The chorus is forming…won’t you support it?

Back in August, I wrote a post Lemons to Life and the Raising of the Collective Chorus. To recap, as I looked out at a changing landscape, I decided that after eight years of just writing in this space, I wanted to make changes and accommodate more voices in this space. Starting in early 2017, I will be adding podcasts to the mix, and I am looking to move Black Girl in Maine from more than a blog and podcast but to a media hub for non-white voices in Northern New England. From Black Girl in Maine the blog to BGIM Media.

I have long held to the belief that we need to look at who creates the narratives that we read and believe. In most places, the narratives are fed to us by white people who are often unaware of the biases and prejudices that are often projected in the messages they share, which in turn tends to keep things like white supremacy and institutional racism alive and well, in both subtle and overt ways. Stories about the “Dapper alt-right,” anyone? Articles that normalize Steve Bannon and his hateful rhetoric?  Now more than ever (especially as we see so many Black hosts in particular having their shows yanked recently from various channels like Comedy Central and MSNBC), there is a growing need for non-white voices to be heard and elevated, and my mission is shifting to do just that.

Since that announcement, I have added Teddy Burrage and Marena Blanchard as regular contributors, as well as a few drop-in guests such as my brother and my co-parent (granted, my co-parent is white, but his two decades of experience in my family give him provisional standing in non-white circles). I have been inundated with resumes and writing samples from writers of color throughout the region and I am looking forward to bringing new voices to this space.

Now more than ever as our nation grapples with the realities of a Trump presidency and our racially divided nation, spaces such as this are places for camaraderie and learning. My blog posts continue to travel far and wide; this was brought home to me one day recently when my tween daughter came home and told me that her school’s Civil Rights Team had used one of my posts in class as a learning tool. I recently had the opportunity to speak at a local high school that has been using my posts for learning. An old childhood friend who is a professor at a prestigious university contacted me after a faculty meeting when a colleague suggested several of my posts as resources for students. We had quite the laugh. My words have come a long way from the South Side of Chicago.

As wonderful as it is that this space and the curated posts that I share on the BGIM Facebook page resonate with many and are tools for learning and knowledge, there is a cost. Frankly all the media that we consume digitally has a cost, yet for legacy media, they still have the resources to underwrite or absorb those costs with corporate and institutional support.

For smaller creators like myself, I ask readers to support the work. For many years, I wrote and was happy to just have readers but as the readership grew along with the time devoted to this space, I started to ask readers to consider making the occasional donation to help underwrite the cost of maintaining the site. In the past year, I have moved to using Patreon , which allows people to pledge monthly support to content creators they enjoy. I also offer the Paypal tip option for one-time or sporadic gifts of support.

I recognize that the internet is a vast place and that there is plenty of good content available, but increasingly legacy media uses paywalls and limits access. Also, some sites are so littered with pop-up ads and other distractions that the noise gets in the way of reading the good stuff. There is none of that here. However, this space involves a great deal more than just writing a post and posting it. I am also committed to offering my contributors financial compensation because I know all too well about writing for free and earning nothing but a headache. I also know that we live in a world where Black women earn 63 cents to the white man’s dollar. Given my primary focus on using this space for the uncomfortable discussions of race, for me to consume the work of Blacks and other non-white people without ensuring that we are working towards financial parity would just one more way we continue to perpetuate the systems that create divisions and maringalization. We can’t talk about racial justice without realizing that there is an economic piece too.

If you are already a financial contributor to BGIM, thank you. Your support has allowed me to kickstart the wheels of transformation and to start shifting this platform. If you have never financially supported this space and it matters to you, please consider becoming a monthly patron or making a one-time, year-end contribution. If you work with a group or organization that could benefit from a dialogue on race, consider bringing me out to your space. I do travel nationally.

Thank you again for your support!

BGIM, aka Shay and crew
If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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