Being a part of Black-positive media

A few years back, when Biden was still a part of “the most diverse group of candidates” to ever run for the democratic presidential nomination, I wrote a piece about him right here on BGIM Media. It was a bit of a warning, I guess. The piece was a lot of facts and links to his history and a bit of snarky commentary about that history. Trump was awful, but Biden terrified me. Everything about his record implied that he’d deport more people than trump, he’d give the cops more money than trump, the citizenry as a whole would have fewer rights under Biden than trump. Luckily, none of that happened (wink) but, I wrote a piece hinting at that.

It did not land well.

While I thought that I was being especially gentle in the presentation of these facts, many others did not feel that way. My inbox flooded with hate mail. Comment sections filled with people calling me a Russian bot. None of those observers engaged with the actual piece. In fact, most of the comments revealed that many of them hadn’t read the piece at all, but nevertheless, they were all very angry with me.    

I was stunned. I’d faced hate mail and criticism before, but this felt different. People were angry not with how I’d presented something or that I’d gotten facts wrong. They were angry with the truth of the matter and were blaming me as the messenger. I’d only ever experienced that with racists before that moment, so I was absolutely overwhelmed.

And then it got worse.

Shay messaged me. BGIM subscriptions were getting canceled left and right. Supporters were so angry with what I’d written that they were pulling their money from the site. Like, a lot of them.

Now, look. I don’t really have the words to explain all of what writing for this site has meant to me, but for starters, as a Black person writing for a Black site, there is a weight I do not have to bear. I’ve never had to explain why I capitalize the B in Black. I don’t feel the need to trace everything back to slavery just to make a simple point about contemporary police violence. I don’t have to teach Intro to Racism in America 101.

And the reason I don’t have to do that here is because Shay already did it. She already slogged through all of that bullshit. She pioneered this space and so I get to walk a good distance further down the road than I would have been able to without her. And now that space, the space she’d created and allowed me the privilege of existing in was being destroyed because of something that I’d written.

I was sure I would be fired. And honestly, I figured that would be the right move. It was sudden, but I’d become a liability. This is a job and I was costing the owner money and readership so it made sense. Terrible sense—but sense. I really wouldn’t have blamed her in the slightest.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, Shay wrote a post about it. She explained that the deal was that people came to the site to read points of view that they wouldn’t get otherwise and to pull their money when they saw something they didn’t like was antithetical to their own purpose.

Or something like that.  

The point is, it worked. Some old subscribers came back, new ones signed up and the site was saved.

This is my final column as staff writer for BGIM. I may pop in from time to time if it works for the new direction of the site, but this is the end of a journey for me. As a writer, having the opportunity to hone my craft on a near-weekly basis has been crucial. As a Black writer, being sheltered by the structure designed and implemented by another Black writer has been invaluable. And as a Black person in Maine this space has been indispensable. I’m honored, grateful and proud to have been a part of it and can’t wait to see what happens here next.

If you’re looking for me, my new podcast 99 Years just dropped its first season finale with more to come soon. And of course, you can find my monthly column Racisms over at Mainer. Thanks again, Shay, for all that you have done and continue to do.

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.

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2 thoughts on “Being a part of Black-positive media”

  1. Thanks for writing about the virulent narrative control among liberal Democrats over the U.S. proxy war on Russia via Ukraine. Many, many people have noted attacks on any point of view about that war that does not align with the U.S./NATO narrative. So, you are certainly not alone in being called a Russian bot for stirring up some cognitive dissonance.

    Not at all surprised that Shay stood up to the bullies on your behalf, even if subscribers were cancelling. She talks the talk AND she walks the walk.

    I will miss you on BGIM but at least I know where to keep finding your thoughtful essays.

    p.s. Sorry that Portland voted to keep its white supremacist form of city government. I learned a lot from your long piece in Mainer about its roots.

  2. Thank you for ALL of your contributions – those with which I agreed and those I did not. There is a limit to this idea (eg I simply refuse to read white nationalist BS) – but to me the learning journey requires exploring the things you do not already know and think for yourself, then making reasoned assessments about what to absorb and what to resist.

    My guess was that folks were motivated by fear when they responded. I don’t recall the piece, but I am sure that it contained truth. Except for Bizness Bloomberg and Moon Lady Williamson, Biden was my last choice. At some point folks got so scared that the evil Orange Man could win a second term that any reviews of Biden’s extensive negatives was truly terrifying – like they wouldn’t be true if we didn’t say them! People were afraid that negatives could suppress the Black, young, and “progressive wing” turnout, and without them, evil one would be there still… In private, even Sen Clyburn, who is single-handedly responsible for Biden’s nomination, admitted privately that he was motivated by winnability, not excellence or policy preferences and definitely not his heart’s desire to see Kamela Harris in the WH. I cam to believe they may have been right, but could never give the kind of energy to the campaign that I’d given to hers or am giving now to Rev. Warnock’s. But I did shut up after the primaries about all those truths you laid out there, so I am guilty!

    But your words have been cherished, have taught us a lot, and have furthered my anti-racism journey (inside and out). I’m so glad Shay did the right thing and that the site thrives. So thank you and best of luck in new endeavors.

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