Black girls rock indeed. From Lupita Nyong’o to Beyoncé to Shonda Rhimes, black women have been excelling in the world of media this year and the reign certainly doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. One field, however, is showing a significant amount of involvement from women of color in an array of ways — print and online journalism.
Black women have garnered quite a presence in the digital world lately through the creation of blogs for almost every digital genre, writing for very esteemed publications like VIBE or ESSENCE, and building exceptional brands with their newfound exposure. One newcomer to the game, Morgan Pitts, has taken notice and decided to put her own personalized spin on this growing community.
“I think that the growth of black women who blog is saying to the industry, culture, and world that we are here. We are making our presence known.” Pitts is a recent University of Maryland graduate and curator of lifestyle blog cosMORGpolitan. Months ago, the bronzed beauty tweeted the hashtag, #BlackGirlsWhoBlog, sparking quite a bit of support not only from her own followers but from others in the social media universe. She and fellow lifestyle blogger and artist, Lindsay of 2andL.com, strategically came up with ideas to merchandise t-shirts to further the movement of black women who, well, blog.
When asked about the budding brand, Pitts says she is “pleasantly surprised” with the feedback she’s received. “I had no idea that like-minded individuals would join in with me and use the hashtag, let alone be interested and actually buy the shirt. I’ve had some black girls who don’t blog purchase the tee just to support and stand with me in solidarity. I’ve had Black Girls Who Blog who I have never met and have zero mutual friends with buying the shirt. I’ve gotten interview inquiries my peers (other black girls who blog) to feature me on their respective blogs. It’s so humbly amazing, a really beautiful thing.”
So, what’s the key to being a successful black woman who blogs? Media maven, author, and blogger, Demetria Lucas, says that it’s all about the voice. “Your voice is everything. So many bloggers cover the same topics. So often, your voice (and perspective) is the only thing really that distinguishes you from the other million people who are blogging about the exact thing you are.” Lucas is a veteran in the world of print, dedicating 14 years to her craft. She now enjoys the “freedom and pace of blogging and journalism” and is working on her second book, “Don’t Waste Your Pretty”.
While many may see this emergence as a new trend, it is vital to understand that black women have been active in the online world for years, decades even. Like Lucas, there are women like Patrice Yursik of Afrobella, Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie, and Freshalina of Crunk + Disorderly, who have been heavy hitters online for well over 10 years.
The average age for a black women who’s in the blogging field is about 26. However, the age range of black women involved drastically varies. The younger generation of black women bloggers, like Pitts, Ash, and Cuvilly, are in their early 20s. Other young women, like Lucas, Necole Kane of Necole Bitchie and Claire Sulmers of the Fashion Bomb Daily, are in their late 20s and early 30s. Then, there are veterans like Yursik, who are in the mid-to-late 30s. Interestingly enough, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that out of 143,929 individuals surveyed, only 209 women classified themselves writers and authors. That is a 59.3% increase from 2011’s results, where only 85 claimed the profession.
On a collegiate level, black women are also emerging themselves in the writing waters. Jourdan Ash is a Print Journalism student at the Maryland-based HBCU, Morgan State University. There, she says, is when she really started taking her blogging to the next level. “A group of kids knew I was a Print Journalism major asked me to write for their, at the time, up-and-coming blog, Numundi. I had to get the hang of writing constantly. But, once I got it, it was over!” As a proud support of the #BlackGirlsWhoBlog movement, Ash says she “adores the way black women are taking over the writing world. I feel like this only means that we’ll see more women taking over male-dominated companies like Complex.”
Another supporter of the Pitts’ brand and graduate of Morgan State University is Noelle Cuvilly. Cuvilly is a proud feminist who is strong in her support of the trend. “The message is simple. We’re here. We have voices and we are going to use our means to make sure our voices are heard. As women, we have a message to deliver. As BLACK women, we have a message to deliver and it’s time everybody listen up.”
With every trend comes a bit of criticism. Many fail to recognize blogging as an actual profession, discrediting the information medium constantly. Twitter user @FoolSpeaks says that “most bloggers suck! The collection of words they put out counts no more as writing than reading their blogs counts as reading.” Another critique comes from @aboynameddandy, who says that one of his pet peeves is “bloggers who can’t write properly — and it shows.”
“There’s a difference between blogging about important topics while stating FACTS and just pouring out your opinions into a Tumblr post and expecting people to give you the ‘blogger’ title,” says Ash.
Pitts has similar ideologies. “I get it. Journalists go to journalism school and get journalism degrees. I respect that. They worked hard for theirs, and I don’t want to take that away from them. I wouldn’t call myself a journalist, personally. I don’t think I’ve earned that title. That’s why the term ‘blogger’ exists, in my humble opinion.”
“There’s an art to writing and journalism, of course,” Cuvilly chimes in.”But, like I’ve said before, times are changing and so are the rules.”
Black women in print are a quite a force. They are making outstanding strides and pulling in blog hits effortlessly, especially amongst their male counterparts. With fingers dipped in so many talents and possible business ventures, these #BlackGirlsWhoBlog are in for major moves. So, what’s next for these “phenomenal” women?
“Honestly, I hope it’s not a trend. To me, that implies that it’ll soon fade away. Like it’s only here for a season,” Morgan Pitts says, hoping to grow her #BlackGirlsWhoBlog brand into an empire of sorts. With the frequent orders coming in for her tees, now available in various styles and colors, and attention being garnered to the brand by the second, that could be quite possible.
For Demetria Lucas, this movement is more than the internet and website hits. It’s more about the community of black women. “In 2014, mainstream is just now learning that black women are more than the one-dimensional stereotype in their heads. We’re multifaceted like everyone else.”