New Year, New Changes
We are halfway through May and I cannot understate the year so far 2017 has been a huge year for me. In January, I took a step toward making my dream of being a full-time writer come true when I accepted a position as a Staff Writer at the Daily Kos. Daily Kos is the largest, online liberal platform for news, politics and progressive activism. With an email list of over 2 million and nearly 100 million page views a month, it was a huge opportunity that I could not turn down! I cover racial justice, gender and social justice issues more broadly. It has been a wonderful opportunity to put my passion to good use—especially in this incredibly remarkable, tumultuous period of time we are living in. I’ve been covering a lot about criminal justice, mass incarceration and racial disparities (which is thrilling because I am learning so much and getting to rage against injustice in the system at the same time) and occasionally get to pour my heart and soul into some pretty long essays about my own experiences. This has meant almost no time for Conflict Undone but I am hoping to find some balance in the late summer and fall to continue working on my own projects and writing to keep up the site. I have plans for a major writing project that I am working on (at a snail’s pace) and hope to be able to reveal more in the coming months. For now, I invite you to check out my work at Daily Kos. Here’s a link to my blog:
I am a 2017 Voice of the Year!
I have written before that this has been a big year and I certainly wasn’t exaggerating. In addition to taking a full-time writing job, this year also brings me my first writing award! I have been selected as an awardee for the BlogHer 2017 Voices of the Year. The BlogHer Conference is a pretty big deal in the blogging community—a space for digital content creators, social media stars, entrepreneurs, activists, brand strategists, etc. I decided late last year that I was going to take my writing seriously this year and registered for the conference to network, learn and grown in my digital voice and presence. The Voices of the Year was an unexpected part of that process. A competition recognizing outstanding content creators in a variety of categories, VOTY nominees could submit their own work or be submitted by someone else. I decided to send some of my work in and sent at least three pieces in. My piece, A Letter to My Young Self on the Eve of Hillary Clinton’s Nomination for President, was selected as an honoree in the written long work category. I was thrilled! This serves as a testimony to having confidence in your ability and not giving up. It’s also a reminder that the deep, very painful stuff I often have to work through in life, the stuff that I sometimes have to force myself to pour my heart and soul into, is always worth writing.
I receive my VOTY in a ceremony at the BlogHer conference in Orlando, Florida in June where the keynote speaker is none other than the fabulous Janet Mock.
This summer/fall I will be presenting my work at two conferences. If you are local, I'd love to see you there!
"Tweeting Away Our Blues: How Black Women Use Social Media for Self-Awareness, Activism and Black Liberation"
August 19th: Digital Media in Social Justice Symposium
"Between the World and Us: The Testimony of Multicultural Activists on Race and Social Change Work"
September 19-21: Testimony: Memory, Trauma, Truth and Engagement
The Tango Chronicles
I'm starting my very first series on the blog entitled "The Tango Lesson." It is inspired by my twelve year long, off and on relationship with Argentine Tango. My last tango class was four years ago, which was preceded by a six year hiatus. After all that time away, it seemed unlikely that I could or should find my way back. But recently, I've had some dramatic life experiences; the kind that make me realize that life is incredibly short and that I need to do some searching for the things that bring me joy. Thus, I made the decision to re-enter the world of tango. Quite a bit has changed since I first started dancing it back in 2005. Part of why I stopped had to do with not feeling a connection to the tango community where I lived beyond a very small group of people in intimate settings. While I loved the small cohort of people in my Sunday and Thursday evening classes, I got tired of being the sole brown body in almost exclusively white spaces. I was disappointed in the lack of body diversity. I felt like the last kid to get picked for a team in gym class when I would go to milongas and practicas and never get asked to dance. I quickly learned that, when it comes to tango, white people like dancing with other white people. I finally got rid of my tango shoes in 2013 since I was convinced that I would never dance it again. But as we know, things change and evolve and so do we. What will be different this time around in my journey? I cannot be certain. I do know that I am fundamentally different- mind, body and soul than I was at age 27 when I first began dancing tango. I live in a different city (ironically, the same city that I discovered tango in the first place) so I have no idea what the tango scene is like here, but since it is more diverse than my last location, I remain hopeful. And this time, I'm not dancing for connection to other people. I'm dancing to connect back to me. To all the joy I feel when I dance tango. To the melancholy I often feel deep in my heart that only tango music can express. To the African influences in the dance and music that are often denied since the African presence in Argentina is all but forgotten. This time, instead of keeping all these experiences in my head, I've decided to write about it. Since our experiences are often invisible, you probably won't find many stories of Black women dancing tango (even though I can assure you- we are out here). This series is dedicated to embracing new experiences, reliving and sometimes healing old ones and to elevating Black women's voices in spaces and places that aren't always made for us. You can read the series here.