The Black press continues to serve as a voice for those whose stories often go overlooked, misrepresented, or maligned in mainstream media. In 2015, 28.3 million internet users updated a blog at least once per month, with an estimated 31.7 million bloggers set to begin posts by 2020. Still, in the wake of community reporting and with the advent of digital reporting, many Black women are only now, finding their niche as bloggers by documenting both everyday life and informing marginalized factions within Black America.
That spirit of pride and dedication could be found most powerfully during the 2017 The Black Bloggers Connect / Blogger Week UnConference, held Aug.12, at Trinity Washington University. Noted for its comraderie and mentorship efforts among Black female bloggers, the annual event – now in its fourth year – not only showcased the work of thousands of Black women with blogs dedicated to positive lifestyles, but also lent itself to exposing the growing need for Black women to use their blogs as change agents.
Black Bloggers Connect was founded by Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor, a D.C. native, in 2011.
“Blogging has played a pivotal role in modern storytelling for people of African descent. When our voices and stories are often marginalized by mainstream media, blogging and other forms of digital media have expanded our ability to share information, spread our stories and make an impact in the world,” Aiwuyor told the audience. “From ‘Black Lives Matter’ to ‘Bring Back Our Girls’, many recent worldwide social movements have utilized digital media in order to draw attention to key issues of our time. At Blogger Week, we’re focusing on making sure digital media creators and everyday people have access to the skills necessary for reaching their goals.”
Since its inception, more than 14,000 bloggers and digital media professionals have received support and training from Black Bloggers Connect. Among the 25 sessions offered this year, several, including: “The Fly Girl Guide to Branding,” “Advertising, and Sponsorships,” “Optimizing Your WordPress,” “Social Media for Non-Profit Organizations,” and “How to Ensure the Journalistic Integrity of Your Blogs,” saw great attendance and feedback.
Ward 8 resident Jerissa Cole, told the AFRO she came to the Blogger Week UnConference to determine if she had what it takes to go from administering advice to peers at school, to hosting her own video blog about self-esteem.
“My neighbors and pastor have been encouraging me for years to write, but I felt self-conscious about it, because I felt like people would scrutinize me really heavily because I’m from Southeast,” Cole said. “Now I’m finding that there are a lot of young people in this area who need to hear from someone like me who represents them. Blogger Week has become a one-stop information session for me to figure out how to set up the blog, how to incorporate, how to brand myself, and things like that.”[“Source-afro”]