Left: Moshe Kasher. Right: Neal Brennan. Center: Some technology.
Wednesday was a long and hard day. The shock of no indictment from the Staten Island grand jury in the homicide of Eric Garner was weighing heavily on me. Having spent all day immersed in the story for discussion on TakePart Live that night, I was exhausted. So when Moshe Kasher reached out to invite me onto The Champs, I initially wasn't sure I'd have the energy to add 90 minutes of podcast talking at the end of the day.
I was wrong, and I'm so glad I joined. Moshe, Neal, and I went in. It was real and rough and somehow funny. One of my friends heard it on Facebook and said, "It's funny how The Champs is far and away the most important and interesting black podcast in the game right now."
This episode is definitely my most interesting and important podcast moment of 2014. Take a listen. Revel in the discomfort. Be relieved by the jokes. And then do something.
A Conversation On Race w/@soledad_obrien, @baratunde, @TannerColby
Last week, I was part of an event I've wanted to pull off for over a year: a multiracial conversation about race with author Tanner Colby (Some Of My Best Friends Are Black) and journalist Soledad O'Brien. In just over an hour we discussed our books, our differing childhoods, and our aligned beliefs about how to keep the country moving in a forwardly direction with regard to race and equity. There was plenty of wine and several hilarious as well as poignant moments. I recommend watching the entire video.
Togather is the platform we used to organize the event, and they came through like champs, hooking us up with the conveniently-located and sexily situated Subculture event space in downtown Manhattan (where my NoHo people at!?). They handled the ticket sales, green room snacks, and more. Tanner and I previewed the event on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show a few days before the event, and that discussion of interracial friendships drove a lot of listeners into the audience.
You can order a two book bundle of How To Be Black and Some Of My Best Friends Are Black for a few more weeks, with proceeds benefitting Soledad's foundation. The funds help send girls of color to college and ensure their graduation
This is my how-to-survive/thrive/enjoy/win SXSW post. But first, here is my SXSW Origin Story.
Yesterday I found the initial email from a friend introducing me to SXSW and urging me to go. I received the email on September 2, 2004. The friend is Kevin Smokler, and he's a big reason I love the event and the reason I know about it. Kevin and I met at BookExpo in Chicago during the summer of 2004. It was a dinner organized by Bella Stander who is awesome.
Kevin and Baratunde at SXSW 2006 (Photo by Flickr by neilio)
Kevin and I stayed in touch, and I hired him for a "virtual book tour" phone-based consulting session focused on marketing my first book. Over the course of exchanging emails, Kevin, as another self-described "conference whore," suggested we swap conference recommendations. On his list was something called "South by Southwest Interactive" which he described thusly:
The mardi gras of the online world. Anyone who's doing anything interesting online is there. I've spoken there the last 2 years. You so should go. I'll introduce you to everyone.
I couldn't make it to SXSW 2005, but when 2006 rolled around, I sent Kevin a followup asking if he still thought this was a place I needed to be. He did and reminded me that he would "introduce me to everyone."
So I went, and Kevin indeed introduced me to everyone, extending his group dinner plans, letting me tag along to cool parties and funky storytelling events, breaking bread with brad and more. During that first SXSW danah boyd played a similar role. They were my SXSW big brother and big sister, and through them I met amazing humans like lynne d johnson and George Kelly and too many to name right here.
I exited the conference/convention/pilgrimage/BBQ pit with a recommitment to these digital arts and an extended family of beautiful, world-changing geeks. Every time I return, it's a family reunion. Every time I return, I get a little less stressed about having the latest app, getting into the hottest party or attending the buzziest (yes, buzziest) session. I want you to try to keep that spirit in mind as you review my very short list items for your consideration at SXSW Interactive.
This was so much fun. Last night, I got to join friend, awesome person and America's Substitute Teacher Melissa Harris Perry as she covered in for Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's The Last Word. They invited me on to talk a bit about The Onion's political coverage. It felt like an on-air tweetup. I wish we could do this on every Whiskey Friday.
I also have to add that doing cable news segments in which I'm in the same room and at the same table as the host is so much more fun and human than the disembodied, Futurama, talking head-in-a-box method. I don't mind being a talking head. I'd just prefer not to be a talking head in a box.
BTW, you're going to want to mark your calendars. Tuesday October 4 at 10pm is the return of Onion News Network on IFC. This year, the news is even less merciful.
It's my first NABJ, and it's so far so good. I had no idea there were so many black journalists! And by and large, they're amazingly attractive. Like, really. Everyone here looks good.
I'm on a panel today on the subject of politics and race. Hopefully I can think of something to say though I'm still figuring out the get paid part, but who isn't?
THE POLITICS OF RACE: GET PAID, IT’S NO JOKE
Room 121C // 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
When President Obama had to produce his birth certificate for Donald Trump, political comedians hired themselves to trump, Trump. Whether serious or through satire, delivering political news is an art. This entrepreneurial panel shares how to use your journalistic skills to create a political enterprise for capital gain.
Whatever the content of the talk, I'm genuinely honored and excited by the invitation. SXSW is my "home conference," the one I must attend every year. Here's a blog post and video I made for SXSW 2011 offering advice and explaining more about why I love this conference and always return inspired, newly connected to awesome humans and exhausted.
So thanks SXSW people! Hope I don't bollocks it up!