Race & Politics

Why Black Bloggers, Writers, Fans, And Followers Need To Have Each Other’s Backs

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Like all other relationships between creatives and consumers, the relationship between bloggers/writers and fans/followers is symbiotic. What differentiates our dynamic from most other creative/consumer relationships is that there isn’t much separation between us, and our connection is a bit more intrinsic and fraternal. Aside from a random retweet or an Instagram follow, you’ll probably never interact with the man who designed your shoes or the women who directed the last movie you watched. But, you might have conversations with your favorite blogger three times a week. Maybe even everyday. And maybe you remember when the person who’s your favorite blogger today was just another outspoken and witty regular at what was your favorite blog a couple years ago.

This relationship is built on trust. We trust you won’t use the information we reveal about ourselves to harm us. (And we trust that you, you know, actually read.) In turn, you trust that we stay consistent, honest, and appreciative of your attention and support. The uniqueness of this relationship makes us — the Black blogosphere — a real, live community.

Adding to that uniqueness is the fact that most of us — for reasons practical and understandable — are hidden behind some sort of pseudonym or avatar. And, even those of us who actually use our real names and pictures usually won’t volunteer personal details that could reflect badly on us and people close to us.

So, when someone steps out there and offers intimate details about themselves with their real names and real faces and real locations, we need to have their back. And I’m not just talking to fans and followers. I’m talking to bloggers, writers, popular Twitter/Tumblr personalities. Everyone.

This means when we see that an article penned by or about one of us is shared on our Facebook pages or Twitter feeds, and people are getting nasty and personal with the comments and insults — as what happened last week with Jamilah Lemieux’s Huffington Post profile — we jump in there and defend them.

This means when a person is harassing and stalking several members of the community — yes, Adonis Ash, I’m talking to you — we don’t stand idly by and say “Damn. That’s f*cked up.” and we do actually do something about it.

This doesn’t mean being a part of this community makes you impervious to criticism. Or even that we always need to jump in there whenever we see it happening. I can’t express how much I’ve grown as a writer (and a person) from the feedback I’ve received from my work, and anyone genuinely attempting to perfect their craft will say the same thing. Plus, echo chambers are no fun. And neither are people who can’t take any criticism and don’t allow for their skin to eventually thicken.

The problem is when the criticism goes from constructive to intentionally destructive. And while I guess you can say there’s a fine line between the two, there really isn’t. You know when shit goes too far, and it’s disingenuous to pretend you don’t. And, when it’s taking place somewhere your voice could actually matter — a Facebook comment section or an email thread opposed to a YouTube or Yahoo descent into Hell — it’s irresponsible not to do anything about it.

And yes. This all goes for me as well. There have been multiple times when I’ve neglected to use my voice and status to speak up when well aware that the criticism certain people received crossed the line.

I need to do much, much better, and this is me calling myself out, too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Cheekie Mae

    Thank you.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

    I don’t know if Champ is referring to THAT Adonis, but if he is…then that’s sad on his behalf.
    Also, I’d like to say that dude is everywhere!!! No matter what Black blog is active, he is there!!! I’ve even seen him on some rather obscure ones as well. I don’t know what to say…well I do, but I’m going to keep this one to myself.

    • Cheekie Mae

      He is.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

        And he’s doing the same thing that he did on Clutch, Very Smart Brothas and Single Black Male recently. I’m beginning to wonder if he has an axe to grind due to his issues with self hate.

        • Sahel

          Is it the same dude ?? P.A,what up blood. You good

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

            What it do Sahel? It sounds like that’s who they’re alluding to.

          • h.h.h.

            Is it the same dude ??

            same dude.

        • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

          In terms of self-hate, it’s like the Musiq Soulchild song: The Answer Is Yes! Suffice to say he was trained very well…

    • Msdebbs

      Job or nah??? How can a person find the time to comment on soooo many blogs. VSB is really the only blog I have time for

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        Some people just thrive off negativity

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

        I don’t know, msdebbs. I’m not sure of his employment status, but I assure you that if you go to a random Black blog, there’s a 70% chance that you will see him in the comments section.

        • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

          My understanding is that because he was an emancipated minor who was in the foster system at the time of his emancipation, he gets crazy, stupid welfare money. Like money you thought they stopped giving out after welfare reform in the 90s. That said, dude has issues. Like his blog stuff is the tip of the iceberg.

          Also, you’re so right about him being in the comments section of EVERY Black blog. At this point, I’m not surprised. Dude is like the Illuminati for real.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

            Say what now?! He sounds like he has serious problems that need to be addressed immediately.

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        Word! I have people ask if I can comment on this blog and that one, and I have to gracefully bow out.

  • miss t-lee

    Thank you for writing this. This dyckhead has been at this harassment BS for far too long.

  • keisha brown

    I don’t even know if I should comment on this post, but it was linked to me on twitter by a couple of people, so will add my two cents.

    (it will be more than 2 cents and apologize in advance).

    I am not a blogger. Or at least that is what I tell myself. I don’t write because I have tv/movie/book aspirations. I write because some of my now good friends told me to. And because it’s a great outlet. And because on occasion, I’m good.

    I wrote a post about one of the hardest things in my life, and since then (this is going on almost a year), have been targeted by this exact same person you’ve mentioned.

    Funny thing is though, the silence from people was louder than the support. It was disappointing. And in the beginning it was a lot of: well.. you shouldn’t have written all that, how do you know this person, what did you write, of course you know this person/strangers don’t just personally attack people etc. The worst was..just ignore it. Kill it with silence. It doesn’t mean anything.

    If you read/write blogs – you know that words DO mean things. And when you as a human being are being attacked with no support and no end in sight – it’s hard to not let it affect you. When you are taunted not to blow your head out because orphans get picked on. When someone says you should be run over by a car for having a baby.. Countless other blog messages or tweet attacks…it’s personal. Nothing in my life will ever be as personal as that.

    So I did what other ‘victims’ do. I shut the blog down. I deleted my twitter. Things that were important to me for several reasons. I hid. I was only successful for a little while and they started again. Hell, I just got a message on Sat morning. Before the year end, some friends and followers finally had enough and did a lot of research to help me out.

    What is both good and bad about this post, is that it took the same thing that’s been happening to me, to happen to a bigger/well-known person for it to matter. But frankly, however the abuse/harassment stops – I’m all for it.

    What I will say, is that this is not unique to the online world. If you see someone being harassed, 9 times out of 10 – it won’t hurt/kill you to do or say something. Ask if they are ok. Offer help. Make em laugh. If i was a weaker person or a teen who committed suicide over this – people would have so many questions and maybe some retroactive guilt.

    It would make the world a better place if we just acknowledge when wrong is wrong, and try to make it right.

    I’ve changed as a result of this whole ordeal. I don’t feel as free to write. I am a lot more protective of myself. I’ve learned the hard way that it can be a very cold world out there. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised and extremely blessed to have people from coast to coast to pray for me.

    This e-world that we all live in..it’s real life. With real feelings and real consequences. It would behoove us all to remember that. But hopefully your reminders aren’t as brutal and painful as the ones that some of us have to deal with.

    • Cheekie Mae

      So glad you got this out… *hugs*

    • Sahel

      Sorry you had to go through all that.People use the anonymity of the net to launch personal attacks which is utterly wrong. Keep your head up and congrats on the baby

    • PaddyfotePrincess

      It’s so easy for people to talk slick from behind a keyboard. I’m glad that you have moved past the negativity.

    • Guest

      Its getting out of hand and I commend you for moving forward. I like to lurk and I have a blog that no one follows and I’m okay with that.

    • http://uphereoncloud9.com/ Wu Young

      Glad you’re finally getting a chance at peace, KB. No need to let f#!& boys thrive.

    • 321mena123

      May I ask why you can’t get the police involved if he is threatening you with physical violence?

      • Shamira

        it was hard to lock down his actual location or his government for awhile.

        I would add that there was at least one person on here that had met and interact with him personally, but declined to assist.

        • Cheekie Mae

          Yup!

          But, I can say, after this incident, it fueled another fire and we’re getting closer. He can’t hide forever. Especially since the ninja uses his REAL name. So…

        • miss t-lee

          Oh that’s nice…

        • 321mena123

          “I would add that there was at least one person on here that had met and interact with him personally, but declined to assist.” That’s lovely.

        • afronica

          Now see, that makes me angry. And leaves me wondering who that was.

    • Londa

      I have no idea what all went down and I really do not need to know. The fact that you are hurting at the hands of someone who violated your sense of trust and safety makes my heart hurt. May God protect you and your family and continue to fill you with the strength you are showing. I pray that the freedom in writing you once experienced comes back to you. I pray that joy bubbles through you and overflows.
      I pray that the venomous hate, abuse and ignorance that permeates the internet as a result of keyboard anonymity ceases and that people are fully held accountable and punished for their behavior. I stand on the side of justice. And, real talk, I hope this Adonis person – and those of his ilk – receives his due. If not by the hand of the law, then by the hand of God.

      • keisha brown

        Amen.

    • Shamira

      *hugs* you know we luh you KB.

      I hope some peace is coming for you soon.

      …and once it cracks 50 degrees i fully expect to see you in NYC and on my couch! lol

      • keisha brown

        lol. i promise!!
        hugs.

    • afronica

      I knew that person was all up in the VSB comments for a while. And I heard about him taking a run at a few people on Twitter. But I had no idea he was harassing you. And if he just keeps creating new accounts to threaten people I wonder what can really be done to shut him down. IP addresses change and can be spoofed and I assume the same with Mac’s.

      I am sorry he came after you and that you felt so alone in dealing with it. The whole thing is wrong.

    • JayIzUrGod

      Whereas others would have just shut down, you always kept it together, even when you didn’t know what to do. It shows the strength of your character. Never forget that about yourself.

    • Yoles

      @iamkeishabrown:disqus please let me say that i truly had no idea that things were that bad, (i wasn’t on twitter or instagram or foursquare or any other social media other than Facebook at the time) i know we touched on the topic briefly on fb and somehow i didn’t get the seriousness of the situation and for that i sincerely apologize…

      • keisha brown

        hi @yoles:disqus! thanks!!! :)

    • ThatDamnAfrican

      *hugs*

  • Val

    As for today’s topic; as I’ve said in the past, I’m very happy that VSB is a safe place where bulling isn’t tolerated.

    Off-topic; I know I give Beyonce major ish but I really must say she looked amazing at the Grammys. And, who the heck beat the crap out of Pharreal Williams’ hat? WTF.

    • Sahel

      Whoa,Val is complementing Bey..

    • Msdebbs

      Her performance was ok that hair was not. Look like a pack of ramen noodles on her head…imo

      • Val

        Actually it was her not wearing her usual 47 pound weave that made her look cute to me.

      • Andrea

        I didn’t enjoy the performance that much either. Or any of the other ones. Sadly I like need the whole RHOA cast to fight each other in order to be entertained.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      It was like vacuum sealed to his head…didnt love the whole night

      • Kozy

        I just imagined it as the outermost shell in a series of progressively smaller Russian Nesting Hats.

        • afronica

          It now has its own Twitter account.

      • Val

        Yeah the whole night was kind of blah. Nothing special.

    • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

      his hat was a homage Buffalo Gals according to one music person I trust. Can’t say I know much about it to verify/offer my opinion either way though.

    • 321mena123

      She’s a gorgeous woman. I didn’t see her performance but i can imagine that she put on a great show.

      • Val

        I only saw a few seconds of her performance. It seemed like typical Beyonce.

      • PhlyyPhree

        Eh. I was more amused at the fact that she was clearly Drunk, more than the fact that she was singing drunk in love. I did like watching the PDA between her and Jay all night…it was cute.

    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

      I was initially excited about her opening but after re-watching I have conceded that it was really subdued and just chill for a “Beyonce Performance”. I’ll give best performance of the night to Kendrick. Macklemore can go jump in the shallow end of a pool. Lorde can also follow suit. Shout out to Lalah Hathaway on winning Best R&B Performance!!! AYEEEEE!!!

      • Rachmo

        AP KENDRICK’S PERFORMANCE THOUGH! I was all hype by myself in my bedroom jumping everywhere.

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          I was screaming at the top of my lungs “FUKC IT UP KENDRICKKKKK!!!!!!!” I downloaded the performance as well.

          • Rachmo

            Any man that could get hipsters like Imagine Dragons to nod their heads that hard…Those boys looked like his hype men and I LOVED IT

            • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

              It was a wonderful mashup!!!! I couldn’t have asked for a better set!!! Well, the Daft Punk, Pharrell, Stevie wonder set was also very cool!!

      • Val

        Lol@ Lorde. That was certainly a little different. Yeah, Bey was toned down. And it kind of grossed me out when Jay was touching her butt. For some reason he seemed like he was way too old to be up there with her.

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          Lorde is 17 and looks like she is 60 though! I will never complain about looking 16 ever again. God I thank you for my melanin and girlish looks.

  • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

    bravo for this. we all matter.

  • Msdebbs

    E-Thugs getting outta hand

    • iamnotakata

      This is so true..the e-thug movement is as a result of peoples loss of ability to communicate face to face and hold a conversation, so they create these lives online and then feel invincible..

      It always amazes me to observe the behavior of folks online and I always wonder to myself what they would really say in the real world when they didn’t have Norton antivirus stolen avatar images and their computer screen to hide behind.

      • Sahel

        It would be a trip if all comments could be traced back to the originator. Yahoo and Youtube will go out of buisness

        • nillalatte

          They can be. Trust.

          • Sahel

            Not if your dealing with a competent individual.

            • Abu Husain

              How many trolls are that competent though?

              • Sahel

                Trust me man,never underestimate anybody.

                • keisha brown

                  Exactly. He’s not a troll and if someone wants to work hard to hide themselves, cover their tracks they can and will.

      • miss t-lee

        They wouldn’t say shyt, which is why they talk so much of it online.

        • http://uphereoncloud9.com/ Wu Young

          Not a peep would be heard.

      • SuperStrings

        Yeah, in real life these same people are probably socially shut down, outcast, or outright ignored. Their behavior is really just doing to others what people probably do to them in real life where they aren’t strong enough or smart enough to put a stop to it.

        • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

          Hurt people hurt people. But I will say two things. One, you’d be surprised at what these people look like in real life. Two, it’s amazing how the perps and the victims of this stuff are often the same people in different circumstances.

          • http://theblackbondblog.wordpress.com/ BlkBond

            Your #2: FACT.

          • Cheekie Mae

            Pretty sure there’s no one way sexual assaulters and/or harassers “look.” That’s just patently false.

            • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

              Exactly. People have this image of these people who are on e-thug (or rapist, since you took it there) status assuming a whole life story, when it is rarely that cut and dry.

    • Tentpole

      E-Thugs are reality show rejects who time has passed, but they won’t accept it yet.

  • helga_g

    I think that people living miserable existences log on after another miserable day to spread their misery, and I think that it is sick. I say that because I know someone who does just that as their hobby.

    There have been far too many online bullying suicides for people to NOT KNOW that keyboard aggressive behavior is wrong. It is a huge difference between “keeping it real” and plain rudeness/meanness. If your comments cause someone uncomfort then those comments are out of line plain and simple.

    Words can be beautiful, and I don’t mean that they have to be flowery and pretty all the time but there is beauty in someone using words to share themselves with others. No one has the right to take that away from the next person.

    I think that with the change of communication, the same types of people who thrive on talking ish about people behind backs have taken their bishassness to their keyboard. The behavior isn’t new, it is just unfortunately words on the internet are permanent and a hidden identity gives those people that like to side eye and whisper but can’t step to your face undeserved boldness.

  • MsSula

    I actually discovered Very Smart Brothas in its infancy because I was an avid reader of The Beautiful Struggler. When I saw the article on HufPost I was so happy to catch up with Jamilah’s life and to know that she still blogged with her funny and incisive wit. I refrained from looking at the comments. Comment sections have gotten CRA-ZY over the years. It’s always a relief to come to VSB and still be able to have a nice and decent conversation (Jamilah even gave a shout out to the VSB comment section in her notes on Comments section. http://the30before30.tumblr.com/post/74279547962/rip-internet-comment-sections-1995-2013. Check it out.

    Some of us have been following a certain list of bloggers for more than 7-8 years. We sometimes disagree, we cosign, we follow, we shake our heads, we are proud. We develop a kind of “kinship” through these blogging streets . And some of us actually become real friends. So yes, I should have probably replied to those asinine comments on HufPost, but sometimes it just gets too overwhelming.

    Great post.

    • http://uphereoncloud9.com/ Wu Young

      What’s up, Sula?

      • MsSula

        Nothing much. Trying to keep up with this 6 hour difference y’all. It ain’t easy! But I try. :-) How’s married life treating you Wu?

        • http://uphereoncloud9.com/ Wu Young

          So far, so dope. I’m enjoying it.

    • Cheekie Mae

      Hey, Sula! Long time! Hope you’re well! :)

      • MsSula

        Hello pretty Cheekie! How is the script coming along? Miss you guys! ((((Hugs))))

        • Cheekie Mae

          It’s coming along! I miss you, too! It’s good to see some old names. This place is Cheers! lololol

  • 321mena123

    This makes me sad and is the main reason why, as much as I would love to meet some of y’all, I have chosen to stay behind my computer.

    There are a few others that I read and one in particular that if she stopped writing, I would actually miss her stories. To think that someone could stop doing what they love and enjoy and what may be their mental therapy because someone else is in pain and only knows how to deal with it by being a cyber bully, upsets me.

    I’m glad that VSB isn’t one of those places (though this site could have easily gone down that dark hole). I come here to laugh and engage. There is enough violence and hate going on offline that I don’t want to experience it online.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      Vsb had that rough stretch….then certain ppl stopped coming by and we got gifs and all was well

      • 321mena123

        Yes sir. It only takes 1 or 2 to spoil the entire bunch and dialogue.

      • MsSula

        Yup, that stretch made all of us flee. It was easier to get the post digest in Google reader and keep it moving instead of trying to talk to those knuckleheads (yup those same TWO knuckleheads). Thank God, sanity prevailed.

        • Yonnie

          I definitely stayed away during those dark days. I used to drop in, read a little bit, be like “what happened to VSB?” and be out. And I’d make this face while I was reading: Kudos to Champ, Panama, and Liz for putting the smack down.

          • MsSula

            Yup! That’s the face. :)

    • afronica

      Are you really not meeting VSB people because of ashes like He Who Shall Not Be Named? I wonder if it might make things better in general if people in communication offline met each other in real life.

      • 321mena123

        Yes. People can be straight up evil and the internet lives forever.

      • Kozy

        For me, meeting the people I interact with regularly online brings an added sense of familiarity and only enhances future online communication.

        I think I don’t have the same apprehension Mena does because I haven’t really had any bad experiences online or off. I guess we’re all affects by personal circumstances.

        • Sahel

          MENA IS A TRAP

          • Kozy

            you and these Admiral Ackbar proclamations….

            • Rachmo

              BOL

          • 321mena123

            Leave me be.

        • 321mena123

          The thing is, I’ve never had a bad experience of meeting someone online but probably since i only did it once. It was a date.

          My problem is when people bring stuff from the real world to online. It has happened here and that’s the stuff i want to avoid.

          Either way, i would be surprised if i haven’t run into one of you guys at one point or another. Especially Rachmo and B Sweet i believe.

          • Kozy

            Likely. yall are all up there in that area and i’m rarely around/near MoCo.
            you never know, though. I’ve randomly run into twitter followers in the city without any planning.

    • Val

      I feel if I met people IRL it would make me start to censor myself online. Anonymity gives you a certain freedom to explore more personal stuff.

      • 321mena123

        True though there have been a few guys on here that have definitely caught my attention.