Monday, July 27, 2009

Chi-Town! True Confessions of The Blogrollers' BlogHer '09 or Bust Road Trip

I’m okay people! I (finally) made it back from my big Blogrollers BlogHer ’09 or Bust road trip to Chicago for BlogHer 2009 with Christie of My Life a Work in Progress, Lorraine of Ask Wifey and Jennifer of The Baby Makin(g) Machine. I met my people. I made new friends. I heard—and made!—some thought-provoking speechifying. Put at least five pounds of delicious Chicago vittles on my hips. And lived to tell about it (even with Chatterbox behind the wheel!). Here’s the re-cap:

Day 1: We rolled into Chicago five hours behind schedule. The Chevy Traverse was downright dreamy—lots of room, smooth ride, satellite radio with a solid hip hop station that played The Chronic, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Bizmarkie, and a video player that rocked the second season of The Dave Chappelle Show. What's not to love? Side-eye at OnStar, though, for getting us all the way to Louisville, KY, only to start giving us blow-by-blow directions—in Spanish. Right. We made it all the way through Indiana and to Michigan the ol’ school way (nods to MapQuest print-outs), only to sit in traffic for three hours wading through barriers set up for President Obama, who was in his hometown the same time as us (I would have stalked, but, you know, you don’t really stalk the president without getting your feelings—and a few other things—hurt). So between the bad directions and the traffic, we missed all the good parties. No biggie, though: We ended up checking out the Chicago sites—the Harbor, the Magnificent Mile, some incredible architecture and street art—and having a kick-booty meal at Bandera, where the steak and the homemade Oreo ice cream dessert made my doggone night. My night, I tell you!

Day 2: I kicked off my conference right, with a stop in on a panel, featuring Cutie Booty Cakes’ Renee Ross (peep those super sexy red shoes she’s sporting!), about how to extend your blogging “tribe.” I appreciated the tips—visit other blogs, connect with people who aren’t like you, get involved in what other bloggers are doing—but I couldn’t help but to feel like there’s STILL a ridiculous amount of divisiveness/segregation in the bloggy world, in which mainstream (re: white-run) blogs that claim to be for all moms speak mostly—if not only—to white moms, and rarely reciprocate visits to/comments on/involvement in blogs run by moms of color who readily and happily support them.

Well, seems I touched a nerve with that one; twitter was abuzz with a few folks suggesting that people are “intimidated” by MyBrownBaby, presumably because the word “brown” is in the title and it features content about moms who are African American. I thought that was an odd little thing to say, particularly since I’ve written quite passionately HERE about how, though MyBrownBaby is written from MY perspective as a black mom, it’s a space that welcomes and encourages the opinions and insight of ALL moms, no matter their color/race/nationality/background/political leanings/big toe size. Needless to say, it got a little hot up in there for a minute, so much so that my girl over at The Prisoner’s Wife, a lovely writer you should get to know, wrote a post about it. Wanna see it? HERE IT GOES.

Anyway, you should know by now that mess like this doesn’t really shake your girl. I went to the Maria Bailey hosted Disney Mom Bloggers Reunion party, where I bonded with the amazing group of women who've all enjoyed the mom magic of Disney, and then headed back to my room, put on some lipstick and my six-inch glamazon platform wedges and high-stepped it over to the Nikon party with co-Blogroller guest Jennifer of the BabyMakin(g)Machine, the beautiful and talented Jennae of Green Your Décor, the uber cute and spunky Sheena of MommyDaddyBlog (who just is incapable of taking a bad picture!) and my girl Katja of Skimbaco Lifestyle, whom I absolutely adore. Carson Kressley was in the house, and a small army of masseuses, hair stylists, and make-up artists were there to pretty up the crowd, but the highlight for me, by far, was Nikon’s drool-worthy new camera, the NIKON D-5000 (its video capabilities and swivel viewfinder make it SO sexy), and Kris, a Nikon photographer who showed me how to use my D-50. I swear, Kris changed my life.

[Sheena of MommyDaddyBlog, getting her top model on]

[Me with Jennifer of The Baby Makin(g) Machine, a.k.a. Young 'Un]

[Me and sweetie pie Katja of Skimbaco Lifestyle]

[My D-50 is cute and all, but this? My dream camera!]

Later, we made our way over to the Macy’s Tower for The Lush Experience with my girls from Mama Law, the lovely Justice Fergie, Justice Ny, and Justice Jonesie. The three are behind the upcoming mom bloggers of color conference, Blogalicious (don’t you just LOVE that name?), coming to Atlanta in October. Their party was the place to be; Afrobella, Corynne Corbett of That Black Girl Site and a lot of other fantastic bloggers of color were in the house, and we all got to sample Lush’s handmade, natural products. Of course, I left with more products than any one woman should ever buy in one trip, including this absolutely deliciously citrus Sexy Peel Soap. Later, we had a sleepover, sans the sleep, at the Justice’s suite, where we polished off desserts and wine from their swanky affair, and talked until the wee hours of the morning. I’m absolutely in love with these women; you MUST make a point of visiting them at Mama Law, and supporting Blogalicious, where I and some other fantastic mom bloggers of color will be speaking.

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Day 3
I kicked off my day watching a spirited panel/talk-it-out fest on marketing to multicultural bloggers. A rundown on the conversation in that room is impossible to do here; I’ll keep top eye out for any videos/audio of the exchanges, which were smart, informative, funny, thought-provoking and eye-opening. Bottom line is: Moms of color are blogging, we have influence and it’s downright foolhardy for companies looking to do business with moms to keep ignoring our divine power and Gucci purses. (Shout out to Karen of CHOOKOOLOONKS, who not only has one of the most amazingly beautiful (visually and poetically) blogs I’ve seen, but also holds it down for us on Momversation, one of my latest obsessions.)

Later, I had a chat with the Pepsico-sponsored Blog Talk Radio show with John Havens, who wanted to know all about why I started MyBrownBaby and just what I meant about that divisiveness comment I made in Friday’s panel. Somehow, we also ended up talking about the whole Skip Gates brouhaha, and then later realized that we lived in neighboring towns when my family was based in South Orange, NJ. Shout-out to John—I really enjoyed our talk about race, diversity, and the “N” word, which extended well beyond the taped show. Keep making it do what it do, John!

Later, still, I signed copies of “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” in the BlogHer Expo (it’s STILL No.1 on the New York Times Hardcover Advice Bestseller’s List!), and then had a hearty rib, spinach, and chocolate martini dinner at The Webber Grill with my The Blogroller pals Lorraine of Ask Wifey, Christie of A Work In Progress, Jennifer of The BabyMakin(g) Machine, and Justice Fergie and Justice Jonesie of MamaLaw—the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.

I’d like to thank The BlogRollers for letting me ride shotgun with them to Chicago—we had such sidesplitting, Thelma & Louise-style fun in that Chevy Traverse, my doggone sides STILL hurt (get the blow-by-blow on Twitter HERE), and I’m so glad for the friendship we forged on our journey. The OnStar ultimately got us back to Georgia safe and sound. I’d also like to extend a special thank you to Disney for the scholarship funds that made my trip to BlogHer possible.

Um, what’s this I hear about BlogHer being in my hometown next year? New York City? Aw, now you know it’s gonna go down!

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  1. I had an absolutely awesome time! Thank you for riding with us, for bonding with us, for sharing your words of wisdom with us and for acting a fool with us, too! Loved it ... and you!

    Winks & Smiles,

  2. It sounds like you guys had a blast. I'm so happy and thanks for all the information. NY is my hometown as well. Hopefully I'll make it to blogher next year.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out -- glad you had such a great time at the conference! :)

  4. Sounds like it was a blast! It was great meeting you at the Bon Voyage party.

  5. Wow! I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time. I am so jealous. Thanks for sharing all the details. Maybe they'll let a guy go to blogher next year. It'll be in New York. Of course, that's close enough for me to crash it. :)

  6. Bring it, Preston! You and I can do it up BIG in NYC. Come on—say you will!!!

  7. BlogHer sounds like it was a blast!

  8. D,

    it was SO GREAT to finally meet you (EvenIfYouDidGiveMeThePoliteSideEyeAtFirst lol).

    you have continued to be an inspiration to me & i'm GLAD that you've create this space for us to share are experience mothering brown babies. i appreciate it, even if others can't.

    i'm hoping to make it to the A in October for Blogalicious, so we can hang out again.

  9. What wonderful photos and your recap is funny and full of food for thought. I can't say I understand the whole "intimidation" factor and think that is a poor word choice. After further thought the only thing I have come up with is that like "Essence" your blog may be perceived to only be for mothers of brown babies. Although the advice is applicable to everyone, I would be curious to know how many of our lighter hued sisters actually read Essence. Of course this idea came to me after the panel during quiet reflection. I wish we'd had more time to talk about it on Friday.

    To play Devil's Advocate, I know if a blog was titled "My White Baby" *I might* visit out of curiosity but unless it discussed raising an albino child or there was some other reason to have "white" in the title, regardless of how inclusive the author and the posts were I would probably be unlikely to be a regular reader because the title suggests I am not the target audience.

    I know there are numerous blogs written by women of color that are frequented by moms of all races, you mentioned Chookooloonks, and I know all of the other women on the WOC panel have diverse audiences too. A few more to check out are AlphaMom, Joy Unexpected, and Savvy Mommy.

    Thank you for providing food for thought. I am sure this is just the beginning of a dialogue that is important to have.

  10. I LOVED THE NEW HAIR! And it was awesome to see you. Looking forward to Blogoligious.

  11. No y'all DID NOT have fun without me!!!!


  12. This looks like fun. I could see myself hanging with all the wonderful ladies in the picture. Thanks for this well-written recap. I can't wait to meet the faces behind these blogs. That's if I ever make it to a conference!

  13. Blogher sounds like fun...I'm hoping one day I can attend!

  14. Thanks Sistalove Denene for giving us all the Blogher rundown from your perspective. I am looking forward to hearing more about the Blogrollers' adventures from ATL to Chi-town. What a roadtrip! You divas are amazing.

  15. Hi Denene, I just finished listening to your radio interview. Amazing. Thanks for speaking your truth. WOW 18 books! You are awesome. I lovey our radio voice ... hint .. hint... MyBrownBaby Radio ... for the African American Mom Experience!

  16. I was star struck when I met you Denene (as was the other justices) because you are so "big time"; but you are SO down to earth and real and I really appreciate that! I had a blast on Friday night learning from you ladies and I'm looking forward to ATL in October.

    BTW, screw (trying to clean my potty mouth) that lady with the intimidation comment. That's just an excuse for her unwillingness to learn about the journey of raising black kids in today's world. She's probably one who believes in this "post racial" fallacy and is afraid to talk about race because it's not an issue any more, is it?

  17. I second Ananda's hint about MBB Radio! So, when's it coming?

  18. Denene, it was fantastic to meet you finally at BlogHer '09!

    I hope you'll join us for BlogHer '10 -- and have you thought about suggesting a panel discussion? Watch for the shout-out for suggestions...

  19. @Lisa It was SO very nice meeting and chatting with you, too! Did that mom have to wrestle you for her baby? That baby was just delicious!

    I'll definitely be suggesting a panel discussion, and I wouldn't dream of missing BlogHer '10... it's in my hometown—woot woot! Can't wait.

  20. Denene, thanks for letting the world know about your life changing experience! It was my pleasure to sit and explain some basics to you... it really is my favorite part of what I do for Nikon.
    ~Kris Bosworth, Nikon Inc.


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