"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Side Bar-Black History Month Question...What do you think?


As many of you know, February is Black History Month. And as a woman of color, I am honored to welcome it, embrace it, and acknowledge it by way of my blogging forum.
This post is to give tribute to my ancestors---a strong, mighty, beautiful and awesome people who paved the way for me, and the many contributions they have made to our enjoyment and betterment as a collective society. Thank you. Forever.

And now to the topic of the hour...
My parents grew up in the south in a different day and time. Back then, "race mixing" was a taboo, and other than in roles of service, there was very little interaction outside of one's race.

Fast forward...
We moved to the big city, (the Midwest) where the climate was different, and expectations were different.
Truth be told, I have always been blessed to have "real life" friends who were of different races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.

My best friend today is still a Hispanic woman that I met when she and I were in eighth grade, as students selected for a "Gifted Students" program. I find she has my back even now, decades later.
In high school and in college, I hung out with a small group, but diverse nonetheless.

But, I must admit that in 2011, even though we have a Black president, some folks still stay stuck in their same social habits and stereotypic views. They choose to only associate with people of their same background. Or perhaps my perspective is based upon my beliefs as a creative artist.
By and large we tend to be open-minded cool kats. :-)

So I'm not knocking anyone for this; I'm just saying, for the purpose of discussion, that it's a surprise and somewhat antiquated. What I have discovered, through my diverse associations, is no matter what race or religion, we have more commonalities than differences.

But the other day, I thought about blogging and social media.
In my mind, online avenues have caused us to communicate outside of our geographical boundaries and our comfort zone.

When I look at the "followers" on different blogs, and the commenters too, everything is so beautifully diverse and dynamic! Bravo!
I can't help but think that of all the benefits of blogging and social media, that improved race relations has been an added bonus.

How about you? Do you see any correlation? Are you now more inclined to dialog with different folks from different places and points of view?
Have you met and made online friends that are different than the ones that are comprised in your "physical world" existence?

Do tell. No judgments here. :-)



  1. I think the exciting things about blogging are the possibilities, connecting with so many from different backgrounds, cultures, and locations. I follow and have followers from all over the world with a diverse array of beliefs and whatnot. I never stopped to think about it - what color each one was, or where they came from - we just connect over what we have in common. It's been an amazing journey! Lots more adventures to come.
    P.S. I knew it! I just knew you were a "cool kat". :)

  2. Karen,

    From one kool kat to another, thanks for your thoughts! :-)

  3. I think you're absolutely right about how on-line relationships, blogging worlds, and creative people tend to be more diverse-thankfully!

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 2, 2011 at 1:42 PM


    True, right? Thanks for weighing in.

  5. I believe that you're right about on line relationships in the blogging world definitely are more diverse and more relaxed. At least, that's been my experience.

  6. You mention being gifted, too, and I wonder if that has something to do with it, and not just the creativity. I was always in gifted programs, and we always had more diversity and were more open, just because that's what we did -- we wanted to know about everything. I had a tremendously diverse group of friends long before the Internet evolved. That said, blogging and social media have given me a great number of friends in more places than I would have had without it, but it hasn't really altered the diversity, as the gifted community, as well as the churches to which I've belonged, have always been wide open and welcoming.

    Of course, having diverse friends has also helped me see and understand the other side of the coin -- the not always being accepted. Friends who are African American, Jewish, Hispanic, Asian have shared experiences with me, and it is often heartbreaking.

    So I suspect that social media have widened the experiences of many who were not blessed with diverse communities. But since high school (and that is approaching ancient history), I've never been without friends with different backgrounds.

  7. Jennifer, I love well-rounded conversations bringing in people from different races, locations, religions, etc. Everyone has such amazing points of view. One of my favorite places to be in all the world (you're going to think I'm a nerd) is the airport. Seriously. I've worked from the airport even when I wasn't going anywhere or picking up anyone. I love the ambiance and the atmosphere. Mostly, I like to people watch. I love watching people coming from somewhere else, and people going somewhere else. They all have a story. I'm fascinated to wonder what it is. This is a feeling I get from Twitter and Facebook. (and blogging, of course).

  8. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 2, 2011 at 8:11 PM


    Thanks for sharing your experience with us today!

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 2, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    Great feedback.
    Interesting perspective--I never thought of factoring in the "gifted" part of the equation.

    And unfortunately, the "not being accepted" isn't confined to race in our society. There's age discrimination, weight discrimination and intolerance of those who are physcially challenged as well. Thanks for contributing greatly to the discussion.

  10. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 2, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Hi Bryan,

    I agree. Variety is indeed the "spice of life."
    I like to listen to conversations and observe interaction at parties. Crazy, huh?

    I appreciate the feedback.

  11. Wow--that is a big question, and very deep. On a side note, I love the vibrant energy you bring to your posts...very cool! I guess social media helps by disseminating ideas, and information/new ideas have always been helpful for progressive movements. Okay--this makes me feel good about blogging--thanks for giving me that feeling!

  12. Absolutely. To a certain extent I agree with the 'gifted' comment. People who are open, widen their horizons. I gravitate to someone who has something interesting to discuss. Your posts are thought provoking and informative. I teach, and when I do the blue-eye, brown-eye activity on MLK Day some of my students cry. I can only imagine how a whole race of people were reduced to tears.

  13. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 3, 2011 at 6:14 AM


    Very happy to be the provider of good feelings. :-)You're right--sharing info is often the catalyst to new ways of thinking. Thanks so much for your kind and very thoughtful perspective here.

  14. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 3, 2011 at 6:18 AM


    ...Always a pleasure. Thank you so much for the compliment; I do try. Here's to all of us broadening our horizons--creatively and otherwise in 2011!

  15. Hi Jennifer, this is a very thought provoking post. I love the way you write.

    I agree that social media and blogging have definitely expanded our reach, because we have the ability to communicate with different types of people across the globe (diverse backgrounds, cultures etc.).

    However, there are many things that contributed to less diversity in the past like segregation, limited by the neighborhoods we lived in or schools we attended. Personally, my life experience in school, work and family have always been diverse. And I find it to be a good thing!

  16. Kembala,

    Welcome! Wonderful to have you here adding to the mix and the conversation. And I do indeed agree; diversity is a good thing. I appreciate your time and your input. Hope to see you again. :-)

  17. Hi Jennifer,

    I have a diverse group of online friends. But in real life it's not the same. Heck, I don't even have any friends. That's a shame. Well, I have a few, but I can count them on one hand.

    It doesn't help that I am in the southern part of the country in a very rural area. I find that people in my area are not too quick to befriend anyone who isn't in the same race. Which I think is pitiful.

    My online contacts are very diverse. Those who visit my site are diverse and I would love to meet them in person one day.

    Throughout my childhood, high school and even college years, I've always had a diverse group of friends that I hung out with.

    Very interesting topic, Jen!


  18. We certainly have a lot in common. My parents are from the south and raised us in the Midwest. I was also fortune to participate in the "gifted student" program. As a result, I have friends of diverse backgrounds. Regarding social media, I simply believe it's more about anonymity for some of us which may or may not be the beauty of it. I strongly believe that my ability to accept, embrace others of diverse backgrounds, in person or not, stems from my parents teaching us about basic human fundamentals i.e. upbringing. Props to my parents:)

  19. Evelyn, I'm sorry to hear that! I'll be your friend! :)

  20. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 3, 2011 at 2:22 PM


    That's very hard for me to believe. You come across so warmly online; I know that has to translate in real life!

    But, believe this: It's not the "Quantity" of friends you have, it's the "Quality" that counts.

    Online I'd like to "believe" I have many. In the physical world I "choose" to be very selective. Why?

    What I'm realizing is that not all folks define friendship the same. I learned the hard way. It's best to form bonds with those that do. :-)

    Also, with people of varied backgrounds, sometimes you have to initiate things. Life and lack of knowledge can sometimes impose unnecessary barriers and cause fears of rejection, I think.

    Thanks for sharing!

    And you can't count me in with Bryan--I'll be your friend. :-)

  21. Steph,

    Welcome! Excited to have you join us. Thanks for the "follow". I agree---props to your parents. Embracing others is the key to living a more abundant and blessed life in my opinion. And you definitely have an interesting point about the anonymity.

    Thanks for your say today.

    How did you discover this Blog? Just curious...

  22. Bryan,

    You're adorable. ;-) Seems you're everybody's "friend." Bravo to you!

  23. Awww, Bryan! You are so sweet! :)

    Jennifer, thank you!

  24. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 4, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    You are most welcome...

  25. hello jennifer
    how are you?
    variety truly is the spice of life and i have connected with wonderful people of different professions, race, gender.... online and in real life and it's been a huge blast coupled with a few sour grapes but hey!! i can live with that.
    although you have people with extreme views on both sides of the divide, i humbly submit that there's just something absolutely profound being open to diversity
    thanks for sharing this.
    take care and enjoy the rest of the day

  26. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 4, 2011 at 7:00 PM


    How are you? You're quite right---there are folks with extreme views on both sides of the divide. But it's good to be receptive to varying views and voices. Thanks so much!