Posts tagged ‘Generation Y’

A Millennial Briefing with no Millennials

Well, that’s effective.

or not.

Last week the Pew Research Center held a briefing on their newest study on Millennials. I had first learned about this briefing via Twitter, so I started to watch the streaming video online. I was disappointed yet not surprised to find out that not only were most of the presenters old white guys, but according to a few colleagues of mine, they weren’t in attendance either:

As it turns out however, fellow Millennial Decker Ngongang was one of the few in attendance. He let us know via Twitter that the briefing was not only invite-only (ha!) but also that virtually all the presenters were old enough to be our dads as were the attendees.

So how is it that old white guys are suited to comment on how they think we “kids” live our lives? (Paul Taylor kept referring to Millennials as “kids” when many of us are actually grown adults, as Rosetta Thurman so eloquently pointed out.) By not inviting Gen Y folks to come to your event or even to present the study, Pew is sending the message that they have no problem probing and theorizing about us but DO have a problem with us being present when they present the data, which I have an issue with.

Now of course there were some exceptions to the rule. In fact, someone did tell me that there was one 27 year old in attendance, and my friend Decker was there. But to them I said the following:

Pew’s first mistake was making the event invite-only (which is rare of them apparently). Their second mistake was doing a whole briefing about Millennials and only inviting a few of the “important” ones rather than reaching out to, say, Gen Y bloggers like myself and others and perhaps some folks from their networks who fit in that age group. Thirdly, making all the presenters old white males didn’t help either.

The findings themselves were pretty interesting as well and seemed to tell the story of the privileged Millennial, which of course is an entirely different post.

Where I’ve Been (Or, Why I took a Hiatus)

When I’m down, I just draw some roses/on a pretty piece of paper/…halfway through I feel so much better/I imagine happiness/and it runs right to me, such amazing beauty–Georgia Ann Muldrow, “Roses”

Things have been noticeably quiet around here, so I thought I’d tell you about what’s been going on and what I’ll be up to next.

About 3 weeks ago today, I became a casualty of this recession: I was laid off from my job. During those first few days, I felt so many different emotions at different times. First I was sad (I cried for the better part of the afternoon on day 1), then I was angry (why me?!), and then scared sh*tless (how will I pay my rent?).  I had to take an extended time away from updating my blog to go through all of these emotions, and to take some time to reflect and map out my next moves. But as time went on and as the biggest snowstorm in DC’s history blew through my hood, I started to feel, despite it all, happy.

That isn’t to say that this time has been easy or that it isn’t stressful. Being unemployed is always difficult no matter what the circumstances were that lead you to it. I know Im not immune to the challenges that lie ahead, nor the present. But more than anything else, I’ve made the conscious decision to take this time of “(f)unemployment” to learn more about what it is I really want my career to look like, and how I want to pursue my own happiness from here on out.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the song “Roses” by Georgia Anne Muldrow:

The song challenged me to meditate on what was really important in my life, the things and people I had to feel grateful for, and the ways that God has continued to bless me. Everytime I feel frustrated or when sadness starts to creep up again, I try to think more about my strengths and less about my weaknesses. I focus on the few things that made me smile, the people who made me laugh throughout the day.

Soon after I discovered “Roses”  for the first time on Blip.fm, I came across an article about the artist who wrote and performed the song, from an issue of LA Weekly published just last year. She was discussing her philosophies on life, her new baby boy, and her music. One part of the article discussed the remix of “Roses” featuring rapper Mos Def, and how that moment caused a type of paradigm shift for her:

“It was an inspiring thing because the week that [Mos Def asked to remix her song ‘Roses’ for his new album], I stopped calling myself broke and started to follow certain spiritual laws one must observe in order to call oneself successful,” she says. “You can’t cancel out all the resources from the divine realm, which are trying to help you. I’m very inspired by what energies can be brought in through cleansing the bad habits and negative energies toward myself. Or directed toward what I think about myself. And that’s the most inspiring thing, because that’s what ‘Roses’ is about: finding happiness from within.”

Keeping the faith and staying positive during challenging times isn’t easy but I think I’m doing a little better than I thought I would. Every day I have to remind myself that I’m alive, that I’m capable, that I’m healthy, and that I have friends and family who love me.

My 26th birthday is in exactly a week. As I approach the second half of my 20s I find myself considering what I want 30 to look like. I sometimes wonder if I would have started my own company by then or if I’ll be married with children. Then I realize that there’s no exact way to predict where you’ll be 30, nor is it a magical age where everything will necessarily fall into place. The only thing I know for certain is taht I know and believe in my heart that I’ll be happy.

For now, I’m reminding myself just as Georgia Anne Muldrow sings in “Roses” that happiness and fulfillment–in my career, in my friendships, in love–is a journey. Every day I am striving to act on my knowledge that not only does my happiness start with me, but also that a little bit of faith really does and will go a long way.


Say it to my face!: Anonymity, Sexism and Social Networks

I recently signed up to try the current social network craze, formpsring.me. Formspring takes Facebook’s Honesty Box a step further, allowing people to submit questions to ask you either anonymously or not. I’ve never been into the Honesty Box because I wasn’t that pressed to find out what people think about me; I come from the school of thought that says: “if you got something to say about me, say it to my face.”

But, the straight forward Q&A nature of Formspring really intrigued me. I find that Twitter moves too fast sometimes to allow for a pure Q&A type of discussion. So as other people’s formspring answers showed up on my Twitterfeed, I felt compelled to check it out and see what this particular social network was about.

Most of the questions I got were tame. Lots of people were curious about why I moved to DC from LA, where my parents went to high school since they are both DC natives, what I thought about weaves versus natural hair, what grade I would give President Obama, etc.

Then, about halfway through the q & a, someone asked me my views about pre-marital sex.

Many of you who read my blog know that I support grown adults making decisions about sex for themselves…and for parents to teach their kids the importance of protection and sexual maturity. So I reiterated that in my answer.

But the anonymous questioner didn’t stop there. He (as I am sure this was a man) also began a line of questioning and judgements that would be what many call “sex-shaming”…better known as “slut-shaming.”

Do you think you’ll marry your current boo? (too early to tell…and if I knew I wouldn’t tell someone who insisted on being anonymous)

Oh but you’re already giving it up? For shame! (I’m grown, son. you don’t know my life)

He needs to put a ring on your finger…you need to learn some self-respect!

[Note: this was edited/paraphrased as the original dialogues/questions have been deleted so as not to give power to sexist, judgmental, and dogmatic behavior]

Wow.

I was hurt… I was being triggered. I felt like my relationship was being questioned by people who don’t even know me nor my partner. And I was being bullied for no reason at all.

I am not the first woman to experience sexist attacks on the internet and/or social networks. One thing about social networking platforms that allow for anonymous or semi-anonymous posting/reactions….and some people use these spaces for more harm than good.

from The WareHouse (@carolinaware):

We all type things that others may not want to see sometimes. It happens. Now you DO HAVE THE OPTION NOT TO HAVE IT STREAM to your Twitter/Facebook and not to answer all the questions. The only problem with the latter is that you have some people who LOVE TO START SHIT and will be asking questions they shouldn’t. You don’t answer and ignore it, then they step from behind the shadows..Now if they had to ask you behind the mask, then they probably shouldn’t have been asking anyway and….well…you get the picture right?

This all very true indeed. But I still believe that this issue is complicated by gender. What learned from my own experiences and observation of the way Formspring works is that women are more likely to be asked rude and/or offensive questions than men are. In fact, one of my male followers made the point that most men would never have to to deal with the kind of questions and implications that I or other women (cis or trans) would have to deal with in online spaces.

Too often we are told that the internet is a playground for boys and a dangerous place for girls…but as long as we have d-bags who are using the internet in sexist, racist, and/or misogynistic and transmisogynistic ways, I worry that we still have a ways to go before the telling of this story changes.

So what do you all think? Does the anonymity of the internet allow more room for sexism and other forms of oppression? What can be done to change this?

James Walker: Diversity in Social Media & PR

As a Black woman in social media I too have noticed the lack of women and people of color in conferences, panels, and top 50 lists. This is something I’ve referred to when I attended the WAM Conference in March. I recently moderated a panel at Campus Progress about how Social Media is changing the way we break news, but it was then I began to reflect again on how rare it is that you have a woman of color moderating a panel of that nature, let alone participating on one.  My colleague and fellow GW Alum James Walker talks about diversity in social media and communications — or lack thereof–in this piece originally posted at his blog, Gen Y PR Prescriptions.

If I had to assign the last week one overarching theme, there’s no question that it would be diversity.

It started with Sunday afternoon thoughts about one social media heavyweight who just does not seem to get the credit she deserves, Corvida Raven. I could try to describe her, but I think she does a better job in her twitter profile:

  • - Oprah of the web
  • - @MrTweet blog editor
  • - New Media Specialist
  • - Awesomesauce

She was on USTREAM not too long ago talking about issues she had with the social media tweetups and other events being held in the Atlanta area. Her main concern seemed to be that the events were all being held in places convenient to a certain circle of people. This normally meant that events were held in a section of Atlanta that was:

  1. Close to that circle of people (work and/or home)
  2. In places (bars/restaurants/meeting spaces) that they and their group frequented
  3. Not *reasonably metro accessible (long travel time or just inaccessible by normal standards)

She noted that she makes an effort to go whenever possible but can’t always go mainly because of number 3. One thing that is apparent when she does go is that she sees the same faces all the time. My guess is that those are faces unlike hers. There are several questions that come to mind, but they are tied to my next “diversity week” event, Women Who Tech.

Every month, DC Tech Titan Jill Foster holds great sessions at NPR as a part of her DC Media Makers series. The July meetup included a presentation from fellow Tech Titan Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech. Without mincing words, women are underrepresented in the tech industry and often are nowhere to be found when you look at speaker panels at major conferences.  Women Who Tech was created to “to break down the barriers and showcase the brilliant talents of women who tech out” and also to “create a database of women technology experts to be used as a resource for the media and tech conference organizers.”

I agreed with everything that Allyson had to say until she said that  she’s begun to boycott sessions that aren’t representative of women in the industry in terms of panels and attendance. I didn’t agree with that because I thought that she was contributing to the problem by not participating, but event attendee D.C. Hughes hit her with one better. He said, “I look around and see five black males [in a room of about 40]. If I were to apply that here, I’d boycott this event.”

I couldn’t help but laugh because of the way he said it, but he was right. The entire time I sat there listening to Allyson’s issues and the steps she was taking to address them, I was wondering if there was a way to transfer that and if someone should take up the charge to work towards equal (or at least more equal) representation for people of color in the Tech, PR and Social Media sectors.  The clear answer is yes.

However, addressing the diversity issue will not be as easy and clear cut as the picture I included above. There are several questions that will need to be answered in order to get to the roots of the *problems* helping diversity remain an issue.

Now that I’ve had my say, I’d like to do my part, but I can only do that with your help.

Here’s what I need from you.

  1. If you’re even remotely interested in this issue, email me at james.walker@prprescriptions.com.
  2. If you’re not interested but think this might be of value, please tweet this, forward the link out to your networks, send smoke signals, messenger pigeons…you get the idea!
  3. If you know people I should be reaching out to, feel free to email or include their info in a comment below.

Follow Up: Steve Harvey, dating and the Quarterlife

A few months back I wrote this post about the Steve Harvey relationship book, Act like a Lady, Think like a Man. I got a lot of comments, a lot of my friends talking about Black women and men and relationships, and a lot of retweets on Twitter.  I also got some pretty interesting comments:

from Anthony C:

One of the hugest disconnects between men/women these days is that we’ve gone away from the fundamentals of properly dating someone and “vetting” them for a potentially serious relationship. Harvey utilizes a lot of common sense approaches that really are a hallmark of the over 40 club, but you know what? That stuff really works.

from Wise/d.l. chandler:

I’m glad you were able to gleam something from what I found to be pretty rudimentary writing. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. Harvey’s intellect (and humor, if one can call it that) is pedestrian at best. I think the blunt and ham handed approach of advise this man is schilling to the public is both deplorable and laughable. In fact, I dare say it’s going to cause more damage than add on to the wealth of the world.

I’m sure there lies good intention in his work, but having read a good portion of it, common sense and age should lead one to these so-called “insider” revelations far easier.

from Sweet Potato Brown:

I understand that Steve Harvey’s book is for the strategist, but people should be more reflective about why they think they want to marry. Otherwise, marriage will not bring them what they wanted, and they will hurt lots and lots of people, including themselves, for lack of self-awareness.

From Faith:

And yet you bought the book. And that’s all Steve Harvey married 3 times, cheating on his wife jerk trying to tell a woman how to act wanted. [editor's note: LOLz]

Finally, from Elizabeth:

Thanks for calling out Mr. Harvey for suggesting, if not fully recommending, that women should be something other than who they genuinely are in order to ‘get’ a man!

You are fully self responsible – keep loving yourself first. And yes, pacing at any stage of a relationship is enjoyable.


Here’s the deal y’all:

Yes, I bought the book and read it because I don’t believe in making a judgment about things like this until I research it myself. One of the reasons I read the book is so that I could review it and let my readers know what I thought–a lot of people seemed to want to know and it only made sense that I gave the people what they want, right?

…I wouldn’t have paid full price for it though. Borders Reward card FTW!

But I digress.

A lot of people on the blog and on Twitter had wanted to praise my initial review. “Hell yeah! Who wrote this crap anyway?” But here’s the thing: I don’t think all of it was crap.

Yeah, you heard me right. I don’t think most of Steve Harvey’s points were total BS. I think it’s important that women and men have standards for the way they are treated and an handle on how to treat the people they date and have relationships with.

I think my biggest issue was the fact that it was decent message with a less than stellar messenger. Steve Harvey is a yellow suit wearin comedian who has been married 2 (or 3?) times with a mediocre morning show. Not sure how I feel about his positioning himself as a “relationship expert” when most of what is written in the book I’ve heard from my aunt, my moms, my sorors, and even my Dad. Aren’t those the people who can guide you in a better direction (hopefully) after all?

There was absolutely nothing new said in the book. Outside of the fact that the author(s) were Black and not white, it was really no different from He’s Just Not That Into You, a collection of things women “should know” about the way men act.

Which brings me to my final point:

Women are clueless about dating–and men are just as clueless, especially when they are quarterlifers. So why are only women given rules on how to act or think?

I’ve been single for 6 months and kind of back in the dating scene for 3, and I have to say that I sometimes feel as though I have no idea what it is  I’m supposed to do or am doing when it comes to dating. I only know that eventually I want to settled down get married and raise a family. I can’t always tell if a guy is “into me” or if he wants to date me, and even if he does I have no idea if he is thinking long term or one night. There’s never a clear way to tell what men actually want (beyond the bedroom–but I think everyone wants that at some level). No matter how many relationship books I may or may not read, this will pretty much be the case. All I know is that I deserve to be with someone who really wants to be with me, who makes me laugh, and who I can build a deep and meaningful relationship with. And I know I have the capacity to give someone else that in return.

On the flipside though, most men don’t know what to do or how to date or treat their partners either. Especially not in their 20s. So why is it that they aren’t told how they should act or what they should think or say? Why is the onus on women all the time? Also, with all the rules:

Is dating just strategy? Are we just playing this big game of chess until one of us wins the game and, apparently, the wedding ring? If so–then what the hell happened to dating being fun?

I agree wholeheartedly with the Sweet Potato Brown in the comments above, that Steve Harvey’s book apepars to be for strategists, for women who are approaching dating like a game of chess. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a husband or a life partner at all, but I think sometimes we try so hard to be a man’s wife that we take the fun out of learning about both ourselves and about the people we date. Yes we should have standards and be aware when things are awry and how to handle it, but we should also remember that things happen when they are meant to happen and not after achieving a certain number of chess moves in the  “game.”

In any case, I wanted to clear the air and bit and let everyone know that I really didn’t think the book was a whole bunch of crap. There was some good stuff in there. Too bad I learned it from my momma first instead of Steve Harvey. He doesn’t get he distinction of  “pioneer black relationship guru” in my book.




Today is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy invites teens to take a short, scenario-based quiz on their teen website. The quiz challenges teens to think about what they would do when sexual situations arise.

This day also is  a great opportunity to think about solutions to not only teen pregnancy, but also to how we can reduce the risks of teens getting STD’s. This can be a great opportunity to consider how we talk to our youth about sex and what we tell them about protection themselves and each other.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts about this subject, I believe that it takes much more than someone simply telling young people to “just say no.”  That’s not to say that abstinence should be removed from the dialogue completely, but that perhaps giving young people  a comprehensive view of how to prevent pregnancy and STD’s will allow for them to make more informed decisions.

And it goes without saying that it takes more than a day prevent teen pregnancy. It has to become an on-going part of how we engage youth in a real discussion about these issues.

A few links:

Drop it like it’s hot: If you have blogged about the National Day or would like to talk about ways to talk to kids and teens about sexuality, then drop your links in the comments section!


Be the Change: CPL New Leaders Program Now Accepting Applications

2009 marked the beginning of a historic moment in our country’s history, which I and other bloggers have written about and will continue writing about for years to come.

But the question still remains: How will young people, many of whom voted for President Obama overwhelmingly, take part in the change that we all wanted to see in the world? Now more than ever is the time to learn more about becoming an agent for social change in our communities, our homes, and our campuses.

The Center for Progressive Leadership New Leaders Internship Program is now accepting applications for their paid internship program. The New Leaders Internship is a 10-week summer program that matches young people from underrepresented groups with paid internships at some of the top social justice organizations in Washington, DC. In addition, New Leaders Interns receive leadership training and mentoring opportunities.

The deadline to apply is Friday, March 13. For more information, visit CPL New Leaders online.

Womanism 101

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Feminism 2.0, a conference devoted to creating a bridge between feminism and social media. During one of my comments, I mentioned that I was a womanist political blogger. The one thing that kind of surprised me was the number of women–young and old, black and white–who had never heard the term womanism and were not sure what it is.

So in this post, I will do my best to clear the air and let people know what I mean by womanist.

Let’s start with Alice Walker’s definition:

“the black folk expression of mothers to female children, ‘You acting womanish,’ i.e. like a woman … usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous, or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered ‘good’ for one … [A womanist is also] a woman who loves other women sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture … and women’s strength … committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist … Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.”

So what does this mean to me? It means a concept, a culture that is devoted to women in general and women of color in particular. It means a culture that supports the idea of bridging the gap between family and motherhood and feminism; BOTH can coexist. It means standing for reproductive health, equal pay, education, and speaking out about violence against women. And, yes, it means supporting and working with men as opposed to treating them like the enemy.

A Feminist Theory Dictionary talks more about this:

It includes the word “man”, recognizing that Black men are an integral part of Black women’s lives as their children, lovers, and family members. Womanism accounts for the ways in which black women support and empower black men, and serves as a tool for understanding the Black woman’s relationship to men as different from the white woman’s. It seeks to acnowledge and praise the sexual power of Black women while recognizing a history of sexual violence.

Read the rest of the article here

I believe in the power of defining your own feminist ideals. I really do. I am devoted to many of the issues that feminism has fought, from choice to equal pay. However, I do love and support Black men, and I want them to be included in the dialogue. I do love wearing heels and MAC Lipglass and I like watching Girlfriends and Sex and The City. I’m in a sorority. I do want to raise children one day. And, yes, I can own these things about myself, and still define myself as a womanist. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

So, here are some links to books and blogs about womanism and related issues:

Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose

bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody

James H. Cones, A Black Theology of Liberation

Delores Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness

bell hooks, Feminist Theory (I include this because Womanism is very similar to Black Feminism and I would be remiss if I didn’t include bell hooks in this discussion)

…and here are a few blogs:

Womanist Musings (awesome womanist blog!)

elle, phd

Racialicious (LaToya is a Hip Hop Feminist…again, cut from the same cloth)

If you are a womanist and have a blog, please add your link in the comments.

More on Feminism 2.0:

NotMyGal has a great video from a panel called At the Crossroads, a dialogue about bridging the generation gap in feminism. LaurieWrites liveblogged the session.

Jen Nedeau at has a great wrap-up at Change.org

Cynthia Samuels also talks about her Fem 2pt0 experience at Don’t Gel Yet

Tweets is Watchin: Twitter feed of all things Fem 2pt0.

And as always, if you have a link to another post on this great event, post it in the comments!

elledub goes gawking at the alfalfa club dinner

Nerdette over at NotMyGal convinced me to spend my Saturday night watching the arrivals to the Alfalfa Club Dinner, a dinner honoring the legacy of Robert E. Lee (yes…I’m talking about this guy). Governor Sarah Palin was in attendance and so was President Barack Obama. We were there to see Gov. Palin arrive to the dinner and the Presidential motorcade, and have the live tweets to prove it!

We saw some pretty awful fashion choices that brought back memories of Golden Girls reruns….I talk about this and whether I would ever attend the Alfalfa Club dinner if invited in the vlog below brough to you by NotMyGal. Enjoy!

Generation Y Voter Supression

Okay guys, one last post before I get ready to go out and hit up some election night parties. According to Future Majority, a series of fake emails and text messages have been going out to young voters, particularly on college campuses:

A George Mason University student forwards over a pair of emails that went out to the student body of the Virginia school:

First:

—–Original Message—–
From: ANNOUNCE04-L on behalf of Office of the Provost
Sent: Tue 11/4/2008 1:16 AM
To: ANNOUNCE04-L@mail04.gmu.edu
Subject: Election Day Update

To the Mason Community:

Please note that election day has been moved to November 5th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Peter N. Stearns
Provost

And then:

—–Original Message—–
From: Office of the Provost on behalf of Office of the Provost
Sent: Tue 11/4/2008 8:08 AM
To: PROVOSTOFFICE-L@mail04.gmu.edu
Subject: Urgent Voting Information

Dear Colleagues,

It has come to my attention early this morning that a message was hacked into the system fraudulently stating that election day has been moved. I am sure everybody realizes this is a hoax, it is also a serious offense and we are looking into it. Please be reminded that election day is today, November 4th.

Peter N. Stearns
Provost

From Future Majority via Politico.

As they say in the article, it’s VERY unlikely this will really fool anyone, but it’s also a testament to the importance of the youth vote…this has to be the first time younger voters have been targeted in this way in recent years.

Well, that’s all for tonight folks. If you’re going out, be safe out there. If you’re staying in, try not to have too many shots for every state Obama wins :-) Instead, slow down and try focusing on the swing states!

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