A Blogging Conference in DC & Trip to the Pseudo-White House

This past weekend I attened the Blogging While Brown conference. It was great overall, but it definitely had both highs and lows. It was amazing to see how much of a vibrant subculture the black blogging community is when brought to one place. (I say black, and not people of color, because the conference’s main focus was on the black community and the majority of attendees were black.) On the other hand, I did feel as though I was an outsider on various levels. I talked to a couple people that were offended when I told them I had not heard of their blog. One guy even welcomed me to the Internet when I told him I was new to blogging. Even as an outsider it was still nice to be in a room of diverse people who were brought together for one simple reasons: being a person of color that blogged. Some people in the room had little to no followers and others made is very well known that they had half a million hits a month.

The highlight of the conference was getting to go to what I thought was going to be the white house. Still, this was by far the most interesting part of the weekend, for both good and bad reasons. 30 minutes after arriving in DC, I had to scurry to what is called the Eisenhower Building. They took us to a room that was filled with Obama photos and a small podium in the front. We spoke to “official” white house representatives, that both gave a brief description of their job and explained to us that we were there because they wanted help with building and bringing people to these new “online live forums” where people could come ask questions and express concerns.

Microsoft 'School of the Future' in Philly finally in a groove?

Microsoft ‘School of the Future’ in Philly finally in a groove?
Kathy Matheson, The Associated Press, June 18, 2010

PHILADELPHIA — When the Microsoft-designed School of the Future opened, the facility was a paragon of contemporary architecture, with a green roof, light-filled corridors and the latest classroom technology, all housed in a dazzling white modern building.

It might as well have been a fishbowl: Educators and media from around the world watched to see whether Microsoft could reform public education through innovation and technology.

Although the school’s creative ambitions have been frustrated by high principal turnover, curriculum tensions and a student body unfamiliar with laptop computer culture, the school graduates its first senior class Tuesday with each student having been accepted to an institution of higher learning.

“The first three years were definitely a challenge,” said Mary Cullinane, Microsoft’s liaison to the school. “They’re hitting they’re groove now. I’m excited to see what’s in store.”

From the beginning, everything about the $63 million School of the Future was designed to be different. (Read the full article)

What has the Internet become? And what are people making it?

Since we live in an age where technology is everything and everywhere, most of us have some type of outlet on the internet and while for most of us, it doesn’t serve to satisfy any emotional problems or insecurities, there are many young, vulnerable, and insecure people who feel that there is nowhere else to turn. Online chatrooms, forums, social networks all are places where people confess secrets and post personal information everyday.

In November of 2008, nineteen year-old Abraham Biggs began posting about his potential suicide on a body building forum. Other users mocked him with ridicule and encouragement to follow through. He posted a long detailed suicide note about his life that he felt ‘meaningless’ and went on to overdose on prescription medicine while streaming to the same website. Even while watching the video, users continued posting horrible messages.

Black Folks On The Internet

This past weekend I walked into a technology geek’s dream. Everywhere I saw, seemingly tech connoisseurs toiling over ipads, macbooks, and iphones. I wasn’t even at an Apple Store. Sorry Steve Jobs. This past weekend I got a chance to attend the Blogging While Brown conference in Washington D.C. This was the first time in my life where doing something while brown didn’t involve nightsticks and jail time. Although I’ve been an active participant in the blogosphere for well over a year now, I was unaware that so many people that looked like me were not only participating as well, but also revolutionizing new media. During this two-day conference I met and incessantly tweeted about the “big ballers” in the blogosphere. I met middle aged mothers who blogged about their experiences being single parents, politicos who blogged about all the latest snafus and scandals in the Beltway (they’ll never run out of material to write about), and academics who were conducting research on the presence of Black folks on the web.

The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence

The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence
Natalie Hopkinson, The Root, June 16, 2010

This year’s Black History Month was a particularly bloody one in Shelby County, S.C. Sergio Leary, Ja’cole Wilson, Karon Barrow and Leon Thurman Jr., all young people in their 20s, were all shot dead, according to local news reports.

The Shelby Star’s analysis of the burst of violence, hit on all the usual crime reporting clichés: ”black,” ”at-risk youth,” ”subcultures that don’t value” life. And then, there’s the clincher. ”Despite overall crime numbers falling in recent years, black-on-black [emphasis added] violence remains a prevalent issue,” the newspaper reported. (Read the full article)

June 14, 2010 – June 20, 2010

Youth center awarded grant
Cynthia Roby, South Florida Times, June 21, 2010

Youth conference aims to help teens
Seth Stratton, The Dispatch, June 18, 2010

Explaining The Fall of Hip Hop
Professor Plum, Seattle Pi, June 18, 2010

Youth Day: Through eyes of young journalist
Liz Clarke, Washington Post, June 16, 2010

How the Rebellious Youth and the Job World Work Together
Bridget Nielsen, Huffington post, June 16, 2010

The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence
Natalie Hopkinson, The Root, June 16, 2010

Teen couldn’t just stand by for mugging
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times, June 15, 2010

Abandoned by his family and left homeless and alone, Orayne Williams earns college scholarship
Ben Chapman, New York Daily News,  June 15, 2010

Why Do Black Kids Drown More Often Than Whites?
Kate Tuttle, Momlogic, June 14, 2010

Ex-gang member turns youth advoate, fights discrimination
Mary Stegmeir, WCF Courier, June 14, 2010

Poet’s mission is fueled by passion
Mark Schultz, Newsobserver, June 14, 2010

Morehouse, Howard medical school graduates most likely to work in underserved areas
Darryl Fears, Washington Post, June 14, 2010

On Jumping the Broom and Adventures South

My sister got married Saturday.  (Take that, Steve Harvey, et. al.!) Since I’ve just arrived back in town mere hours ago, and feel like 8 pounds of crap in a 5-pound bag, I have no faith in my ability to compose a complete sentence let alone an entire blog about the news and culture of the day.  As a result, I’ve decided to post thoughts and observations inspired by my trip to North Carolina and my sister’s wedding.  I’ll have something more substantive next week.  In the meantime:

Abandoned by his family and left homeless and alone, Orayne Williams earns college scholarship

Abandoned by his family and left homeless and alone, Orayne Williams earns college scholarship
Ben Chapman, New York Daily News, June 15, 2010

In less than two weeks, some 50,000 city high school seniors will graduate.

Few of them will have overcome as many obstacles as Orayne Williams.

Abandoned by his family and living alone in a homeless shelter, the 18-year-old immigrant has not just endured, but excelled.

With a 91 average and three Advanced Placement classes under his belt, he’s headed for college with a fat scholarship and big plans.

“I’ve been through hell,” said Williams, a senior at Bedford Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “School is my way out.”

Born into poverty outside Kingston, Jamaica, Williams grew up with no water or electricity, scrounging food from the street and avoiding gangs.

He was 12 when his mother sent him to Florida with only the clothes on his back. He was taken in by relatives who he says abused him and dealt drugs. (Read the full article)