Very Inspiring Blogger Award: I Taketh & I Giveth

Social media has been good to me.

During a difficult stretch in life, graduate school, and life social media has connected me with friends, peers, colleagues and mentors.

One of my favorite e-people is Ashley. We met on Twitter and we continue to grow our offline friendship footprint.

Today, Ashley shared the wealth by paying forward her “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” to me! I’m so honored. You guys know I mostly just try to stay out of Gitmo. Inspiring anyone is exceeding all my expectations.

Ashley explains the origin of the award:

Today, though, I’m prompted to post because a blogger I admire gave me a cool web award for being an interesting blogger. I first noticed Mama Raby on a community blog we both frequent.

As an award winner, I’m asked to:

1.  Display the award certificate on your website.
2.  Announce your win with a post and include a link to whoever presented your award.
3.  Present 7 awards to deserving bloggers.  Create a post linking to them and drop them a comment to tip them off.
4.  Post 7 interesting facts about yourself.

I am number 6 on Ashley’s list (and am assuming that the list is no apparent order in a nod to our friendship LOL). I couldn’t share her sentiments more:

6 – Tressie – Somehow, Tressie and I met via Twitter, and ZOMG I’m pretty sure we almost crashed the internet because we LUUUUBBBBBBBSSSSS each other. Tressie is funny (are we sensing a theme?) but y’all, TRESSIE IS SO SMART. You’ll find her blog full of fantastic entries about the research she’s doing on for-profit colleges and race, class, power, access. She’s also won a grant to host a conference on all of this in September, she’s published on HuffPo, she’s doing public radio interviews, she’s speaking truth to power and seeing results . . . you want to know her. Also if you follow her on Twitter you get to see a softer, snarkier, sillier side of Tressie. We’ve already discussed the HOT MESS it would be if, say, she and I had to ride the train together every day. Maybe more than anyone else on this list, I know that Tressie and I will meet. It will be great.

A snarkier, sillier side I’ll accept. But softer?!! No way, ma’am! So what if I cried when they put Hushpuppy in a dress! It was a moment.

Following Ashley’s lead I am graciously accepting her honor and paying it forward. My 7 people you should read for a better, more interesting life:

1. My friends Robert and Jazmine just launched “Still Furious and Still Brave“.

There’s been a lot of foolishness lately about how sociology has lost its way as an applied science in the engagement of complex social issues. Apparently economists can fix everything now with the right statistical model. Robert and Jaz are proof positive that the naysayers could not be more wrong. What’s thornier than intersectional oppressions, the right of human beings to exert dominion over their bodies and health, feminist masculinity? Robert and Jaz tackle all of that and more. And I don’t think between them there’s 45 years on this earth. That means they have an entire LIFETIME to make sociology do what it do. And we get to watch.

2. The team at Crunk Feminist Collective don’t need my nod but I’m giving it to them anyway.

In a cultural moment where we’re still debating in the public square whether “women” is inclusive of women of color, Crunk Feminist Collective represents the many women who are too often told that no, we do not. Young, unapologetically brilliant, and diverse the opinions of the team at CFC are anything but a monolith. We don’t always agree but we always respect each others right to be. And believe it or not, that’s downright revolutionary in this day and age.

3. Aaron Brady.

Aaron blogs at ZunguZungu. Some of you will get the cultural reference there. If not do take the time to savor his “about me” page.

Aaron is many things. Chief among them he is curious. And that is no inconsequential thing. Curiosity is at the heart of many of our biggest social issues of the day. In education we struggle with institutionalizing creative inquiry, making it work for every teacher, every class, every child. We fight over whether it is innate or cultivated. We value it even we campaign against its inevitable disconcerting lines of inquiry. We call it innovation, the American spirit, humanity, empathy — it’s all curiosity seeking out new ways of knowing and being. Aaron is curious.

From long-form, engaging web-journalism on Julian Assange to his insightful critique of the state of higher education, Aaron offers a voice almost as rare in the academy as that of a black woman: a rural, working class perspective.

It makes for a wonderful experience.

4. Natalie Cecire

We have this strange notion in our culture that cultural products spring forth from some a-historical, a-political void. Natalie demolishes that misconception on her blog, Works Cited.

She has made some of the most nimble, elegant connections between literature, popular culture, art and everything from politics to educational policy that I have ever read. It is fascinating to see the direction she can take an almost pedestrian argument. It’s always higher and further than you would have imagined. Bonus? She does EXCELLENT snark.

5. Surly Urbanist

Innovation. Urban. New Urbanism. Creative class. Eco-friendly living. Livable cities.

What do all of these things have in common?

No one ever really knows what the mean, exactly.

My man Surly Urbanist holds his urban studies colleagues to the incredible standard of plain-speaking and speaking plainly. It is not uncommon for him to take, for instance, a bike path initiative to task for throwing around words like “innovation” without considering the real impact of “new urbanism” on the old urban that already exists. Nothing new is built without destroying, forever altering what is. In our quest for gentrified urban spaces with just the right minority presence (enough for good food, not too much to change the rhythm of a community), we often let interests run roughshod over the rights, histories and spaces of marginalized people.

Surly Urbanist tackles this and more. His is a strong, articulate, uncompromising voice. I’m lucky to call him a friend.

6. Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer.

This might seem like a hard left after my previous nods but it is not. I love, love, love, love this blog. I mean, I sometimes click through it for hours during the wee hours of the morning when I should be reading more gendered org theory.

In the “Bluest Eye” Toni Morrison fictionalizes a reality that is true for far too  many women of color. We never see ourselves in our media, in the world we inhabit, in the eyes of people who truly see us. We are not swimsuit models, blonde bombshell ideals, “tan” in the acceptable sense (meaning, manufactured not perennial and natural). We are wild haired occasionally. . We’re the dark hand on the thigh of a white model to highlight her paleness and, by extension, her superiority.

We’re life’s negative space. We exist merely to make whiteness beautiful.

Except we exist. We are beautiful and glamorous. We have icons and heroes and a history. And Nichelle captures that all with a gallery of images that celebrates us while simultaneously saying we’re normal and we’re here and we’ve been here.

I love it.

7. Douglas Edwards

Douglas is a character in the best sense of the word. His range of interests and expertise seems to know no bounds. From copyright law to economics to education and science, if it is happening Douglass probably knows about it…and he’s probably archiving it.

And that is the gift Douglass has given me. His ongoing web bibliography archives internet content to be cited, shared, and to exist beyond the rigid academic publishing system. He is walking his talk. He believes in democratic knowledge production and he does something about it. His sense of self, engagement, and commitment to his public ideals inspires me.

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