Come gather round people, wherever you roam and hear tales of two bloggers whose posts overgrown and accept it that one is more valid than known. And the other the world think's worth saving. Well, it's clear to me one has been way overblown and it's time someone was saying.
Our tale begins with two bloggers. Both of whom wrote posts on kinja which went viral and had more than a million hits. Let's examine the posts. I leave it up to you to determine for yourself which post is more readable and objectively 'good' than the other.
The first post was written by a blogger who is well known around kinja for her stellar breakdowns of anti-racism and concepts related to Blackness. Please read Solidarity Is For Miley Cyrus.
The second comes from a blogger who was not really known for anything specific before her post went viral. Please read Why I Make Terrible Decisions or Poverty Thoughts.
I do not wish to repeat these two names over and over again in this post, so please accept these two animal avatars who will be representing our bloggers today.
Repping for Solidarity Is For Miley Cyrus will be this brown bear:
Representing the other post with the too long name will be this kangaroo:
Brown Bear has been a respected voice on racism issues for years on kinja. Her posts have been very popular and cited/linked many times due to their easy to understand and coherent breakdowns of certain terms and concepts used often in conversations about race (such as tone policing).
Kangaroo has been a member of the sub-blog Groupthink for several years as well. She was mostly known for being a night cook with a penchant for brusque language. This was her first well known post.
What Happened After Their Posts Went Viral?
Brown Bear's Story:
Brown Bear's post was not mainpaged. This became a point of contention for many since her post was bringing in over a million views and the lack of acknowledgement from any of the main blogs struck many as conspicuous and very odd. Why was this post, so popular across the web, being completely ignored by the very platform that spawned it? Surely it was making money for Nick Denton. Later on, a similar post was written and posted to Jezebel, but while it argued much of the same things, it still did not make any mention of the post or blogger who originally made these observations and put them into words.
She was however granted an interview by Feminist Magazine.
Brown Bear began to make an effort to raise her profile outside of kinja. She began posting her pieces on her personal blog and linking to them at the end of her kinja posts. This went on for some time. Currently Brown Bear does not post on kinja very often, but still writes on her blog Batty Mamzelle. As far as I am aware, that is the end of her story currently as it relates to this comparison.
Being a regular member of Groupthink (a blog full of very kind, community minded people), people wanted to help her with some of her problems. Some people suggested she start a gofundme to raise funds for her teeth which she says are the number one thing holding back her ability to succeed. This turned into a suggestion that she write a book. Her gofundme rasied $61,602. This is more than twice my personal yearly income. This gofundme's goal was raised several times until she finally relented to questions of how much is enough and stopped accepting donations. It current;y states that the money is for Poverty Thoughts - In Book Form, but the book was solicited by Putnam Publishing without the need for these funds. Her last update explains that she has raised enough for her surgery as well as some left over to write with.
Kangaroo's post went viral very quickly as well. It was written about on the mainpage as a direct reference. While Brown Bear's post was universally lauded as very, very good, Kangaroo's post immediately encountered critique. Many were unhappy with much of what had been written including a critique written on Gawker.
Comments were posted with critiques and questions. How poor is someone who owns a house? What happened that she became so poverty stricken when her family is quite well off and she has had the luxury of a very good education? How bad were her teeth that she was leaning so heavily on blaming them for her lack of ability to make money or have a good career? If her situation was so bad, why did she immediately go on vacation with her gofundme money?
Her 'home' blog, Groupthink immediately went into defense mode for her. A post was written explaining all the reasons she is not a hoax and in fact deserves the funds she has been given. Truly, funds freely given are deserved by whoever receives them. This is indisputable. People have the right to do whatever they want with their own money. This defense combined with a defensive desire to fight against the 'bootstraps' conservative idea that poor people do not deserve nice things. Poor people obviously do deserve nice things just like everyone else. In fact, without access to some 'nice things' such as nice clothes and white teeth it can be very difficult for poor people to become less poor at all.
She released a video in which she removed her false teeth to prove she did in fact have missing teeth. It was published ion Huffinton Post.
Kangaroo also began writing on an outside blog of her own. She began getting questions about issues related to POC since class and race intersect quite often when discussing either issue. She repeatedly stated that she as a white woman was unable to speak to issues of race and asked Brown Bear if she would be willing to field these questions. Brown Bear declined. I speculate Brown Bear was unwilling to suddenly have an inbox filled with clueless white people and feeling she had been thrust into the role of personal educator. I know that's why I would have declined. Kangaroo's original blog is now defunct.
Kangaroo began interviewing all over the place. Huffington Post gave her a platform with which to write. Media all over were talking about her and interviewing her.
Shorty thereafter, she was given a book deal. Groupthink rejoiced. So began her marketing push. During this time, as we should all be aware, another unarmed Black man was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri and a large protest against police racial profiling and systematic racism ensued which is still ongoing. Kangaroo decided to go to Ferguson to share resources (video equipment, etc.) with residents and tell their stories. Many POC on kinja had questions about this. Much of seemed disingenuous. Especially since it had been stated by many already on the ground that the place had become a circus of white media gawking at the 'poor black people' and she was very clearly in the midst of raising her own profile and marketing herself for future book sales. Requests had been made that people who wanted to help stay home and work on systemic racism issues in their own homes and communities.
Some people questioned her on twitter and were blocked for their effort. I personally had several questions and in an in depth kinja conversation with her was told that she didn't consider herself white media (even though she admits she went with a press pass from Huffington Post and was there for the sole purpose of documenting the events). She explained that she had spoken to residents and they were more concerned with the media coming from more racist places such as Nordic countries. I noted to myself that this was during a literal protest about the racism in North America and she was claiming other countries were seen as 'more racist'. This struck me as ridiculous. She was wholly unable to listen to my concerns or admit that she was acting as media.
As she continued to claim her actions were about the people of Ferguson (specifically 'the residents') some people including myself began to notice certain things. Such as her apparent strong ties to 'the residents of Ferguson' while dismissing concerns of Black people from other areas as if the Ferguson protests were not about Black people all over the country. One specific very short post was written made many very angry. It was very short and yet seemed to explain everything:
She had been working on a new website and decided to push up the launch date to coincide with the Ferguson protests to 'leverage whatever social media is available'. This disturbed many POC for good reason.
An article was published on Huffinton Post regarding her trip to Ferguson and after reading it many felt it was lacking in any substance for a person who had gone to Ferguson to signal boost the voices of residents. Where were the voices of residents in this article published in a major publication? Why were they not 'boosted' and instead replaced by a general replay of things we already know about the scene: things are tense, teargas was used, people are afraid of the police.
As of today, she still has not sufficiently answered any critiques from POC regarding her trip to Ferguson. Many of the POC from her original 'home blog' which propped her up in the beginning have been blocked on twitter so they cannot question her further. Kinja posts are few and far between and frequently deleted if critique pops up.
Earlier this year her book came out. It is entitled 'Hand To Mouth: Living In Bootstrap America'. I am about halfway through, review to follow when I'm through. More and more interviews and articles are popping up all over. Kangaroo is a minor celebrity now and she is doing rather well career wise (she is now an author). Just last night she was interviewed by Bill Maher.
So let's see how the two bloggers made out in the end.
Brown Bear: Groupthink generally agreed with concerns from POC that Brown Bear's post should have had attention from the main blogs, though no campaign was started to do anything about it or cause any stir and eventually it was forgotten.
Kangaroo: Groupthink collectively lost it's shit when Kangaroo started receiving critique. Some critique was valid, some merely classism, but no distinction was made. Articles were written in her defense. Groupthink is still celebrating every tiny movement she makes.
Brown Bear: 1 interview
Kangaroo: Multiple interviews (television, audio and print, ongoing), platform on Huffington Post (ongoing)
Brown Bear: $0
Kangaroo: $61,602 from gofundme, book advance of unknown amount, book sales of unknown amount
Notes In Conclusion
Kangaroo has still not had her teeth fixed, though tens of thousands of dollars were raised for her in no small part due to her repeated statements of extreme insecurity due to them and her being unable to smile or laugh for so many years. She continues to interview and appear on television without having fixed them. She has stated she intends to make them 'a project'. No one is sure what that means but she did get several new tattoos, so there's that.
Kangaroo really likes that Bad Religion T-shirt. I mean really likes it. It appears in several press photos on several websites. Kangaroo seems wholly unable to entertain the idea that the reason she may have had trouble making more money or jumping classes is due to her steadfast refusal to allow her hair to remain it's natural colour or wear clothing that denotes she is an adult. I say this as a working class punk myself - it's not right, but you aren't going to get into politics with bright blue hair and a Bad Religion T-shirt. Is that classist in itself? Although there may be elements of it, I'm not so sure. It surely isn't professional, though, to dress like a punk and one can't expect professionals to take you seriously when you do. If that is the choice you make because it's important to you, that's completely fine in my book. In fact, it speaks to a certain ability to stick to one's morals, whatever they are, but one cannot at the same time complain that they are not taken seriously by upper class professionals if one takes that path.
To those who may be upset that Kanagroo has faced so much critique, I would note that she both asked for and cultivated her media profile.
"With great power comes great responsibility."
As far as Brown Bear is concerned? Well, there isn't much to say because nothing much happened for her. She has not been given any greater platforms to speak on or been given any funds to do anything and therefore she has not said or done anything on a greater platform worth discussing or critiquing.
Why? How does one universally highly regarded viral article get completely ignored while another, which left a trail of critique and bad feelings in it's wake, continues to get attention and has become a viable career? Go ahead and speculate. I'm gonna go ahead and guess white centering and racism. A complete lack of real interest from white feminists and white social justice for issues relating to POC. Here is yet another example.
Contrast and compare: Brown Bear was never handed a damned thing. Kangaroo has made a career out of it. And that, my friends is the entire point of this post.