A Year of Learning
On December 24, 2014, I took the first step in creating baltimoreblackwoman.com by signing onto WordPress, purchasing my domain name, and choosing the theme for my page, Shine On. It was a huge step for me. I’ve been a writer for as long as I’ve been able to form words and write them on paper. But, apart from my high school poetry magazine for which I served as Editor-In-Chief my senior year, and publishing one commentary in The Baltimore Sun when I was in my twenties, I wrote primarily for myself, sharing my work only with family and friends.
It took the encouragement of my former work colleague and, now, fellow blogger, Rus VanWestervelt (The Baltimore Writer), to whom I sent some of my writings late last year, to take that first step. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to have a conversation about race, and to be a voice for my Baltimore—the Baltimore I was born into, grew up in, and live in still—because I was tired of hearing what an awful, crime-ridden, dangerous city Baltimore was, especially for Black people, when my experience was anything but. Yet I also needed to remind the world—in the face of the horrific times we’ve been living in racially across America—that the Black experience is the human experience. That simple truth has been the cross I’ve carried every day of my life, the same as it has been for generations of Black people before me and (as I have come to understand better this year), for the younger generations of Black people who have come after me.
On December 27, 2014, I posted my first essay [https://baltimoreblackwoman.com/2015/06/26/race-and-community-lessons-from-a-black-woman-from-baltimore-2/], and baltimoreblackwoman was born.
This past year has been an extraordinary learning experience. First, although I am a retiree and have lots of ideas for essays, poems, music, and photography, it is a struggle to find the time to do all these things, much less get them posted. My primary “occupation” is caring for my mother, although, in truth, she still takes care of me as much as, or more than, I do her! So I tend to write late at night or first thing in the morning.
I am amazed that I managed to put out an average of one to two posts per week (a total of approximately 54 posts, including this one).
Second, I have really begun to understand how difficult—but necessary—it is to promote oneself in order to be heard! There are so many excellent writers out there, covering the same kinds of topics I’ve tried to cover this past year, and a number of them are fellow WordPress writers whose work I have been following (Nikki Skies is one of my favorites). I greatly admire their tenacity in building both their brands and their audiences. Improving my own will be a goal for the coming year.
I am grateful to all the people who have officially “followed” my page, as well as to my many friends on Facebook, who have been most supportive (although their support doesn’t find its way into my WordPress stats, because they comment on Facebook, instead of on WordPress!). Without all of you, I might have given up. But thanks to you, I am just getting started!
The Year in Review and Plans for 2016
I am proud that my essay on the closing arguments of the William Porter trial (first in a new series on the “Freddie Gray” Trials: https://baltimoreblackwoman.com/2015/12/15/the-freddie-gray-trials-closing-arguments-of-the-first-trial-of-officer-william-porter/) gained me the most reads in one day for my page. And I am happy that my Black History Month posts from February 2015 continue to be popular, nearly a year later. In 2016, I plan on sharing more Black History spotlights—and not just in February! In addition, I am proud that my essay on World Bipolar Day [https://baltimoreblackwoman.com/2015/03/30/world-bipolar-day-i-am-one-of-the-27-million/] earned a Facebook “like” from BP Magazine for Bipolar.
Over the course of this year, I have discovered some excellent young Black Baltimorean writers and artists who are making waves nationally: Ta-Nihisi Coates, like myself a native of West Baltimore, who was the winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Between the World and Me; Devin Allen, a self-taught photographer, also from West Baltimore, whose photo of a man running from police during the Baltimore UpRising earned him the cover of Time Magazine’s May 11, 2015 issue and a solo exhibit at Baltimore’s Reginald Lewis Museum; and D. Watkins, a writer from East Baltimore (author of The Beast Side), whose commentary in The Baltimore Sun I have read and admired. In the coming months, I plan to read their books and possibly draw on them for my own commentary. One thing I find interesting is that the Black writers/artists I am seeing are all male. On the one hand, this is a wonderful thing, as we need to hear the stories of our men. But where are all the Black women writers from Baltimore? One such writer, whom I have featured as a Guest Author, is Paula Shockley. In 2016 I hope to feature more of her work, as well as other Black women writers.
As I close out this calendar year, I will be featuring a few of my best posts, as well as some music videos I have made over the past year, including a song I co-wrote with one of my Facebook friends. We have never met in person, yet we managed to collaborate on a pretty darned good song!
Thank you, WordPress, for providing such a great platform for writers and artists to publish their works. And thank you, dear readers, for your support.