Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Nashville's Blogosphere bad case of Diarrhea
The Nashville blogosphere had a bad case of diarrhea last week. An incendiary title of a blog post on a political website left many speechless or scratching their heads about the message the title conveyed. The blog regarding the political campaign of Steve Turner who is challenging Rep. Mary Pruitt of District 58 went from a posting to a full page “what was I thinking” recant. The original blog was not a commentary but an intentional headline with a video of Mr. Turner asking for voters’ support. Some readers on twitter mentioned they were having a ‘discussion’ about race because they were leaving comments. Hmm…the last time I checked a discussion was not comments left on a website. Those are comments.
My twitter account was flooded with DM and my cell was blazing from followers of my blog who knew of my gastrointestinal infection I received from a website a few months back. My family and friends were suffering from clinical worry because of the backlash from a story I wrote in the Tennessee Tribune. Lil old innocent me saying something crazy…never! My folks said it was equivalent to a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Ouch.
I clicked on the links I was sent and I immediately burst into an off key version of Brittany Spear’s “Oops… I did again!” Reading the comment section, I drew the conclusions that folks had a number of pent up issues that were being “voiced”. By the end of the day, a big guy weighed in and gave his commentary on the love of all people that only added fuel to the inferno by many accounts.
I have learned from my years of ‘diversity’ training; never tell folks your list of accomplishments viewed through rose colored lenses. Now days, folks pull out that calculator and start adding. In the days of yesteryear, putting a few blacks on a few “boards”, with no power or authority, was how Nashville showed diversity. A few pictures on society pages and filling those two slots in “Nashville Leaders Now” was the pat on the back that Nashville community gave itself, as it shouted, “We have come a long way”. With a younger generation, who care less about being invited to special balls, being in special issues, and special meetings in special places, folks look at what you do and not what you say you thought you did. I will forever and ever ask companies, corporations and organizations; how many people of color you have employed this year? None. How many in the last five years? Three…geez. How many vendors of color your company hired in the last year? What is the makeup of your management? Are you window dressing or what? The comments were asking the same questions. The fruit of your efforts to diversify and embrace other cultures will actually yield diversity of thought, race and gender in your company, corporation, or organization if that is REALLY a goal. Nashville is alive with diversity; Kurds, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians. Nashville has become a melting pot of ethnics groups from around the globe.
(In my world of diversity, women are usually at the forefront of my conversations. Tennessee ranks 46th in pay equity and 50th in political participation with women.)
Working with people from all backgrounds is what makes the marketplace a wonderful place. I don’t know the hearts of individuals and I am not a mind reader. But we are seeing a national trend that race baiting is proving to draw more viewers or readers. It is in the air like a bad case of flu and it is spreading rapidly. It was a condition often attributed to the blogs that were written without journalistic standards but we are seeing more and more of it in all media forms now.
I do not write to spew hate or marginalize a group or a person. That was not my grandfather’s teaching and he is my inspiration for writing. My posts about Tavis Smiley sent him into a tizzy but I wrote commentary that was backed up with facts. I did not insinuate or send subliminal messages. You didn’t have to guess my thoughts, I told you exactly what I wanted you to know. I was not on a witch hunt with Mr. Smiley nor do I have any ill will directed at him. But I believe strongly the media, especially black media, gave him a pass and did not ask questions of his relationship with Wells Fargo. Mr. Smiley has done a lot of good but I did not hesitate to call him out.
As for the diarrhea in our blogosphere last week, I hope everyone has recovered. If Mr. Turner’s campaign is following the national trend, usually the kind of attention he got last week should have netted him extra funds for his campaign. I know I am paying closer attention to the Turner vs. Pruitt race than I was a week prior to the blog post. Good luck and stay away from blogs that are known to have regular bouts of mad men diarrhea.