The Huffington Post Surfs Medium With a Badass Surfboard, But Abandons Ship When the Tide is High
When I took writing seriously not too long ago, like most — there was no other validation that would do than the honor of being featured in a major publication.
First it was Medium, but back then — it was an under-the-radar experiment that was for sure going to become something amazing and even potentially life-altering.
During my ill-advised sabbatical in New Orleans — I spent my afternoons at the neighborhood café nestled in Magazine Street — oogling over the guy who was hot and used his eyes and lips to solidify my fantasies about us. He was on his way to seminary school and I was trying to find my way to the place where my words mean something. I needed that instinctive reassurance that my mounting debt would eventually deplete to a comfortable pile of collectibles.
I’m still waiting.
In the interim, a lot has happened. I had a nervous breakdown two years ago that still refuses to be flushed out, but I plan on working on that extensively after the New Year.
I spent 2016 expressing myself and it served me well. In fact, it was such a stunner that I got the kind of attention I used to beg for when I was a reject in New Orleans — pouring over the emails from pubs that I no longer have affection for — Salon, xoJane, you know, things like that.
I wrote a piece about the missing girls in Nigeria and it struck a chord with the general public, and apparently The Huffington Post couldn’t resist the attention I was getting. They approached me and I allowed them to enter my world — for the benefit of being able to boast about my byline.
It was impressive and there was a sliver of pride that overcame me. I was now a HuffPost blogger — and I didn’t even care that I was being courted for free. Someone I know was doing that a couple of years prior and I did the best I could to replicate, but it took the tragic fate of compatriots and a platform that finally caught up to all the hype — to get me an honorable membership to the factory of disillusionment.
There were more emails asking for stuff. They liked the one about Lil’ Kim and the Lemonade essay was beyond! HuffPost Black Voices went nuts for that shit. They got a couple more but I can’t recall them right now. I don’t even want to because it doesn’t even matter.
What does matter is that while examining my Twitter feed (a habit that I need to minimize for my sanity) I stumbled upon a headline that caught my eye: 30 Of The Most Important Articles By People Of Color In 2016.
Wow! This sounds promising.
Trust me, I didn’t check it out expecting to find myself floating with the instituted greats: Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Damon Young, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Faders, Buzzfeeds, and ESPNs. But, when it was clear that absolutely no writers of color on Medium made the cut — there was a moment of WTF?
The editors at Huffington Post are gangster with it! It’s obvious they are assigned with the task of finding writers that say the shit most are unable to articulate in ways that garner the kind of attention that makes us feel humanly robotic. (I made that up and it sounds whack, but I like it).
They do a good job representing a brand that is generically self-serving and filled with enough shit to make promising and talented writers feel purposeful long enough to be raped with the knowledge — that somehow their contributions means something in the grand scheme of things.
It means nothing.
When the tide is high, the surfboard that seeks you out because of how yummy the wave you formed appeals with danger — will eventually seek out new territory. That’s the best case scenario. The worst is when you’ve been ridden over and over again without any mentions — or even a speck of acknowledgment that can be as tiny as the pebbles — that litter the sand sticking to the back of the legendary surfer, who lets it stick for awhile until the sun burns enough to require an abrupt release.
Recently I was held hostage by a prolific thread curated by the very talented digital journalist, Tanzina Vega. It morphed into a spell-bindingly educative article — How Newsrooms Can Stop Being So White.
Vega charts her career trajectory that mentions stints at The Times — all the way to her present home at CNN. It’s an appetizing dish that features spices served hot but, shit, you can’t have it any other way. How else can you understand the importance of diversity in main places and the dire need to uplift new voices — instead of relaxing on the collection of notables that have already been paraded around the same route with no hope of intermission.
I guess my point is that — there is good work out there and you are choosing to ignore it. You cry about the lack of diversity and yet you have the prime opportunity to change that narrative and refuse to pounce on it. The OG’s who headed publications back in the day — tweet about #BlackGirlMagic with such passion and yet they are consistently marketing themselves and ignoring the talent they refuse bother to expose.
How can we expect White people to find us when our own community can’t find the time and energy to voice their allegiance to the material they shamelessly poach?
HuffPost Black Voices has an illustrious list this year — but I will bet you the pad in Malibu that I want so badly that Medium has them beat.
If you don’t believe — take a look around.