there’s a conversation going around lately in the Black/PoC community on tumblr about people stealing words for articles and papers in school. i know BA was one of the people talking a lot about it.
so, yeah. that happens. a LOT. and that is one ingredient in the recipe of why i stopped pouring my heart and mind into blogging all the time. after months and then years of watching, i saw ideas of mine being lifted, riffed on, and never once credited (what mainstream article writer is going to credit The Unapologetic Mexican blog?!). i saw it in articles, other blogs, and even on TV programs.
now before anyone thinks us PoC are exaggerating or having delusions of grandeur, let me remind you: I had shows like the Alyona Show as well as CNN get in touch with me—directly—for interviews or possible appearances. I was blogrolled on Glenn Greenwald’s blog at Salon after one confrontation between he and I on my blog; it was a short blogroll, and many readers came to UMX from there. Harry Reid’s office was in touch with me through his aide, regarding my thoughts, and comments on immigration measures as well as people’s reaction to his words etc. I received invitations to fly, to speak, to lecture, to be on panels because of my blogging. A blog I helped found won an award for Best Ethnic Blog in 2009 and I flew to Atlanta to receive the award from New America Media.
and so on.
EVERYONE was reading us in 2006 and 2007 and 2008…. everyone knew who was writing out here in these new areas because the White Progressive blogosphere had no fucking idea how to talk about race etc and we soon had us a Black President, so they had to learn and fast. And they learned by us calling them out, and they learned by reading us. Then they knew how to talk and copy shapes of analysis, and then they ignored us and our points. That’s how it works. These patterns are age old. They don’t stop because New Format of content!
now, at first i was like oh well. i never cared too much for the wars over copyright and all these legal ways of owning ideas. thieving sucks, but what i care about is that my thoughts and insights make it into the mainstream discussion. that was my goal from the very first day i started UMX, May 1, 2006. and it happened. i made it. i could drop a piece of analysis and see it show up in different forms a day later. a week later. never credited. but i didn’t care about credit, right? i cared about the ideas getting out there.
that was true.
but then i’d see people like Glenn Beck grab something from me and twist it. he’d have a sharper weapon because he was listening in on his enemies. that’s called “gathering intelligence” in military theater, right? and i was giving it all to him…and any other pendejo who dropped by.
now…i won’t claim that’s the only reason i stopped. my life changed, and so my actions changed. but that was one reason. that’s one reason now you see me talking to you through photos. and verse. and song. and opaque short remarks. i’m not working for the Man today. they can gather their ideas elsewhere.
i don’t mean for this to have a wider implication on anyone else’s actions. i’ll blog again. sometimes you gotta spill your guts! and if you go dark, then someone else will keep talking, and the thought-poachers will just steal from them. it won’t stop…they’ve got a good thing going on!
i say keep your best ideas under your hat. if they approach unique or dangerous at all, keep them close. put them in a book, or longer form work you are doing. somewhere harder to steal than off a web page.
either way, let’s not labor under illusion. we don’t have privacy here. we can’t corral our ideas or words. they will grab them. don’t ever doubt that unoriginal article writers and bloggers at Huffpost who have quotas to meet don’t have all the prolific blogs bookmarked. they are taking your ideas. it’s like talking in the elevator at NYU Film school. you don’t spill your story ideas. you’ll see them on the screen in a month, and there goes your senior thesis.
cutthroat. just like capitalism teaches us we must be.
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