The costs of awakening, or support BGIM Media

I am going to keep this short and sweet: If this site is valuable to you, and you have the financial capacity, please become a monthly patron or make a one-time gift today. 

It’s been a year since I last directly reached out and asked supporters to support the site; though I do post semi-regular reminders across all of our social media channels. 

Despite seeing our readership numbers and numbers across all social media platforms increase in the past year (once again), we have never made our Patreon goal of 600 monthly patrons. In the past year, I have spoken in various parts of the country as part of BGIM Media and met avid readers of this site from all over the United States. It’s been great, but to keep the site open and available to all, as well as providing daily postings on our Facebook page, we have to be fully funded. 

What I do here at Black Girl in Maine Media was once very niche. But as awareness of race has exploded in this country, it has brought an influx of readers to this space in recent years. It is thrilling to know that we boast readership both nationally and internationally, and no doubt the increasing popularity of this site has led to a significant increase in speaking work for me. However, the site and our writers will always be the flagship operation—and my baby. But unlike speaking engagements, there are very real costs to running this site. Regular and continuing costs.

Monthly pledges determine the number of writers I can afford on any given month as those pledges pay the writers, cover the material costs of running the site, cover our editing costs, and occasionally even pay me. I also believe in supporting the work of other Black folks and POC and paying it forward. 

When pledges fall short, or fluctuate as they have in recent months, I cover things—but I would prefer not to, and honestly it’s not sustainable for me to do so. Our inability to meet our patron goal led to my short-lived podcast going on permanent hiatus because I cannot cover the production costs out of my pocket. In recent months, I have wanted to bring on additional writers—specifically several Black women who with an excellent political and racial analysis—but their rates are higher than what we can afford. 

While you may pay for your access to the internet, that doesn’t pay for the content you can access. As many of you know, the majority of  media operations limit access to their content for non-subscribers as the traditional advertising models simply no longer are viable in the digital age. 

Several years ago, the idea of paying a few bucks for a site might have seemed preposterous, but it is now a reality. I am deeply committed to anti-racism work and have chosen to keep my site free and accessible to all but that only works if enough people do feel moved to support the work with a monthly gift of $5 or more. So I am asking you to support the site today, if you find our writing and media platform to be an invaluable part of your learning. 

As always, thank you for your support and keep fighting! Fight as if your lives depend on it. 

In solidarity, 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.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

So-called expediency might doom us all this election

The world and the nation has watched in horror as Donald J. Trump has taken the United States down an increasingly isolationist path complete with healthy servings of racism and xenophobia. His disregard for the rule of law and his authoritarian nature—and that lack of repercussions for either—have made it clear that our nation’s system of checks and balances are broken.

Despite his bumbling buffoon act, Trump has remade the federal judiciary with one in every four circuit court judges being a Trump nominee and two of his picks sitting on the Supreme Court. To be honest, his presidency has been almost a complete victory for the right. In less than four years, he has reshaped the country and held a mirror to our faces and what many of us are seeing is not pretty. 

In many ways, life in America has become a real-time version of the 2006 film Idiocracy

Which is why, as we enter presidential primary season 2020, the stakes are feeling higher than ever. Can the republic be saved? Or should the American empire, built on stolen land with the labor of stolen people, die a slow and painful death? 

For the majority of American voters, even those on the left, they just want to get back to normal or what passed for normal prior to 2016. Unfortunately, what used to pass for normal in this country was toxic and harmful for Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color (POC) and so many other marginalized groups. The American Dream was already a nightmare for us. Which is why many of us had the foresight to know that the odds of Trump winning were high and that we would be screwed.

However, no one listened to us then and apparently no one wants to listen to us now. 

And by “no one” I mostly mean the white people—poor, working class and middle class—who are also being harmed (particularly economically) but haven’t been pushed all the way to the margins because the GOP needs their votes. Those people still see faces like theirs in most positions of power and prosperity and thus many of them continue to feel like the system mostly works. They haven’t caught on yet that it doesn’t work for them either; it’s just that they will be the last ones to get the boots on their necks when the system is done with the rest of us.

As of this writing, after the debacle with the Iowa caucuses, and with the New Hampshire primary finishing up, it looks like Bernie Sanders is emerging as the Democratic front-runner with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg close to his heels. After existing in near anonymity with her Midwestern potato casserole, we have Amy Klobuchar rounding up the top three at the beginning of this primary cycle. We also have Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe “Corn Pop” Biden rounding up the rear. Yeah, I know we have a few other candidates but barring a miracle will we really be seeing much from Tulsi or Tom? And oh yes…I will be getting to Mike in a moment. 

Mind you, neither Iowa nor New Hampshire are racially or ethnically representative of the Democratic party (or the country, for that matter) but for some reason, we still look to these two very white states to give us the pulse of things. 

The next two states to have a voice will be Nevada, which uses the caucus system (hope they can get the results sooner than Iowa) and South Carolina. Both are states which are far more racially reflective of the country and both are states where large numbers of POC will cast their votes. 

Which is where the former New York City mayor, Michael “Mike” Bloomberg, enters the picture. In case you have been unplugged, Mike is a really, really rich white man who used to be a Republican (and literally just switched to Democrat a hot second ago–opportunism, anyone?) and who as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013 made life a living hell for Black folks and other POC. 

In 2015, Bloomberg spoke at the Aspen Institute and said the following: “95% of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25.” You can read more about that speech here, as well as his thoughts on the controversial practice of stop-and-frisk. If you aren’t familiar with Bloomberg, you may also want to read some of his thoughts on redlining here. 

So at this point, you are probably asking yourself, why is any of this relevant? Isn’t the goal to save ourselves from another four years of the orange monster? Well, yes and no.

See, the thing is that the Democratic National Committee decided that the usual rules needn’t apply to any wealthy folks who can self fund their campaigns. Meaning that under some changes,  to participate in the February debate, candidates must earn at least 10 percent of voter support in four qualifying national polls, or 12 percent in two polls in Nevada or South Carolina. Alternatively, a candidate must earn at least one delegate from either Iowa or New Hampshire.

In layman’s terms, an uber-wealthy candidate can flood markets with advertising and pick up traction without doing any of the usual fundraising or getting to know the people. Meaning a self-funded billionaire candidate in particular can buy all types of visibility and go from people not knowing who they are to actually earning support from those people. In this case, Bloomberg—despite bypassing the work that all the other candidates have done—is polling well enough that he will be on the next debate stage. While his name is known to many as being the former mayor of New York City, what is lesser known is what happened during his time as mayor and the impact on marginalized communities like Black and other brown-skinned kids and young men. To be honest, as bad as it was, stop and frisk was merely one of the negative impacts. And that’s the problem.

Meanwhile, all the candidates of color have dropped out because they couldn’t raise the money to stay in the race. Andrew Yang was the last remaining candidate of color and he suspended his campaign after a dismal showing in New Hampshire. 

Look, I know it’s been rough under Trump; I am a Black woman in America and I get it. But with the national media turning its eyes on Bloomberg and virtually anointing him as the front-runner, despite earning nary a delegate, is frightening at best. 

Even the buzz around Bloomberg picking up Black votes feels disingenuous. It seems he is flooding Black markets with his ads and sadly the other candidates aren’t since—to be fair—they don’t have the same bottomless pockets that Bloomberg has. Even my teenager has come across his ads on her social media feeds. 

A few hours of researching Bloomberg will show that he is no kind, benevolent guy. In fact, he in many ways is just a superficially nicer and better put-together version of the current occupant of the White House. Also savvier and smarter and better able to hide his prejudices, which might make him more dangerous. Is oligarchy really better than dictatorship? Are a collection of rich oppressive boots on your neck better than one violent, unhinged and gleefully cruel one?

At this moment, there is a rallying cry that no matter who the Democratic nominee is, we must support that person. I disagree. Regular readers can pick up on the fact that we here at BGIM Media are no fans of Pete Buttigieg. His record on race in South Bend, Ind., doesn’t impress me and that is after me being contacted this past summer by his then director of black engagement. But as much as I dislike him, if he were to get the nomination, I would probably hold my nose and vote for him. 

However, Bloomberg is a rich man that plays by his own rules and has his own authoritarian leanings with a history of being anti-Black and misogynist, among many other unpleasant things. I am sorry, but as an anti-racist, I cannot support the nicer and more articulate version of Trump. 

This country is at a real crossroads, and it will require courage to get back on track even with the old system, much less changing that already fundamentally flawed system to something better. We cannot shortcut ourselves to an equitable and just nation. We cannot allow fear to be our guiding principle. Sometimes, change means that things will have to get really bad before we get to a better place. 

There is a new breed of politician rising up in this country and they don’t care about the little people. They aren’t interested in being of service to the people. They want a new shiny toy to be in control of. The American people are their new toys. All of them, not just marginalized communities.

After the past several years, we should know that and be ready to stand up for what is right, not what is expedient. We shouldn’t let “electable” be our guiding star, we should let our shared desires for a healthy nation that leaves no nation behind to be our North Star. 

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.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

Image by Filip Bunkens from Unsplash

‘Wokeness’ fails from a lack of commitment…including funding POC candidates

We are currently living in the era of “wokeness” where buzzwords such as equity, diversity and inclusion easily roll off the tongue. For the more “radical” amongst us, it’s anti-racism, white supremacy and racial justice. 

Social media feeds us a daily diet of change language and sound bites, yet when one digs deeper, it’s not hard to see that most of this moment’s wokeness is just that: A moment.

And like every time when most people are having a moment instead being part of a movement—it is going to pass. This one will almost certainly pass once we are rid of the orange menace, assuming that we actually can get rid of him. Or that he leaves willingly if voted out of office, but that’s another post for another time. 

After the post-racial slumber of the Obama years, white America was jolted into reality with Trump’s ascent to the white house and his near-daily white nationalist rhetoric. People with virtually no analysis on how race operates—and the connection between racism and capitalism—really thought that America was mostly not a racist place. 

Since the 2016 election, people have tried to understand: How did we get to this place? 

Never mind that the Black folks weren’t exactly living their best lives under our nation’s first Black president. After all, the spate of highly publicized extrajudicial killings that were almost weekly occurrences happened under Obama’s watch. The creation of Black Lives Matter happened under Obama’s watch. Truth be told, it was never quite clear that Black lives actually mattered to Obama but the familial bonds of seeing one of our own ascend to the highest seat of power in the world has made real critique of Obama’s policies with regard to Black people taboo in a lot of circles. 

In the ensuing years since the reality show bully and buffoon ascended to leader of the American empire, there has been a real thirst for knowledge on race and specifically systemic racism, but that thirst for knowledge at present is having a hard time translating into concrete action on the part of a critical mass of white people. 

Now that election season is upon us, we are being inundated with information about who the best candidate will be to go up against 45. 

However, before we talk about the current slate of candidates who are still in contention and the overwhelming whiteness of those candidates, we have to go back to 2019, when we had a much larger and racially diverse pool of candidates. As of this writing there are 11 Democrats still standing and 17 who have dropped out.

Mind you, many of the folks who tossed their hats into the ring had little chance of getting far, but sometimes you just have to do a thing. If nothing else, running for POTUS has to make for good resume fodder and family stories. 

However, what was seen as most amazing about the pool of candidates was that it was the most racially diverse ever. The type of racial diversity that gets people excited in our current moment of wokeness. That’s when so many of us conflate people of color occupying spaces as being the same as POC actually having the power to make change. Or even having power. 

The thing is that out of the now 17 who have dropped out, there were some Black people and other brown-skinned candidates who at some point were receiving high praise and were viewed as highly viable candidates. In other words, they weren’t just running because they could. No, Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris along with former Housing Secretary Julian Castro were all attractive enough at one point. There was real buzz about their potential. 

Unfortunately, for each came the moment when the reality of being “valued” for being a diverse candidate (and the ensuing buzz) faced the reality that running for POTUS in 2020 requires cash, and lots of it. 

As each of the highly visible candidates of color dropped out, there was the inevitable moaning about the whitening of the field yet few conversations on the why. Why were highly viable candidates of color unable to secure the funding needed to stay in the race? 

Truthfully, it’s because even at this moment where supposed wokeness around race is high and people of color are seemingly valued, actually moving material resources to support POC in meaningful ways is not a lived value. 

In a world where one presidential candidate is blowing the fundraising out of the water $5 at a time, there is no reason that Cory, Kamala or Julian shouldn’t still be in this race (or all three). Unless the reality is that for all the talk of diversity, equity and inclusion, no one is really interested in any type of significant change. It’s easier to tsk, tsk that these candidates dropped out than to acknowledge potential systemic barriers to staying in and accessing funding at levels equal to their white counterparts. 

It’s easier to be sorry that they aren’t there anymore than to question why a white man in his 30s with negligible qualifications for the job of president has access to resources that allow lavish fundraisers in wine caves. Seems to me that being a sitting U.S. senator or former housing secretary is a better qualification for POTUS than serving as mayor of a city with a population of 100,000 people—and by all accounts not doing all that good a job with that job. 

The thing about systemic racism is that it creates a set of conditions that you can almost predict with certainty, even down to the fact that the last viable candidate of color, Andrew Yang, has proximity to whiteness. 

What good is having the most diverse pool of candidates running when, in the end, the same lack of access to resources that hinders the potential of regular Black folks and POC becomes an almost insurmountable obstacle for these candidates. 

For my white readers, if you truly want to change things, it will require a change in your mindset. It will require giving up something so that racial parity can be achieved. At the end of the day, the system is not some amorphous and anonymous system. Systems are made up of actual people, who can and do make choices in their lives.  In our capitalist system, money is a prized asset and a much-needed reality. What you choose to do with your money matters. Are you using your money in support of liberation or are you using your money to maintain the status quo? Are you supporting Black people and POC in their work to create change? Or do you think that your awareness alone is a form of support? 

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.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash