Will The REAL AfroSpear Please Standup?!

By Maxjulian

August 7, 2008

Category: Uncategorized


My sister, Lisa of BlackWomenBlowTheTrumpet.blogspot.com left this query today:

Hello there!

I don’t think that many “new” bloggers know that AfroSpear and AfroSphere are two separate entities.

I am confused now about them after reading your post.

Are there TWO e-groups now? Why are the names so similar?

Feel free to hop over to my blog and send me an email.


Lisa, you inspired me to try to make a beginning on answering those questions right here.

Having been one of the six members who put this AfroSpear idea into orbit – Sylvia, Asa, Field Negro, Aulelia and Kizzie – I must say that I’m as confused as the folks who email here regularly asking us “what’s the difference between the ‘Spear and ‘Sphere”“what and why is there an ‘AfroSp(here)ear Bloggers Association’ and a ‘AfroSphere Google Group’?!” Etc, etc.

“And, why are these names so similar?!”

Why indeed. And a related question: Does it help or hurt the cause that these names are so similar?

The name “AfroSpear” was inspired by conversations that were going on at a number of blogs regarding segregation in the so-called “blogosphere.” We chose Afro- “Spear” over “Sphere” because a spear is a tool and we proposed to make the AfroSpear a tool that we could use for education, inspiration and creation.

Rather than complaining about how white bloggers didn’t understand us or our interests – something that sadly afflicts many of our web savvy folk – it seemed like a good idea to create an entity that represented and expressed the aspirations of blacks and other people of color. We believed that it could help us move from helpless and hapless victims to empowered actors on our own behalf.

That shift, we knew, begins in the mind and this site, necessarily, focuses on the domepiece, providing information that brings light to our community, through reports, screeds and provocations of all sorts that tell us what’s really going on and force us to confront illusions about ourselves and our condition. And no doubt, we wanted to get the word out about efforts by people of color to fight the power and who were developing a ‘lil bit of their own.

We created an ‘umbrella’ concept which welcomed black bloggers of all stripes to convene here to promote, plan and process. We encouraged the formation of cells/cadres (as opposed to cliques) of black interest groups that would take on community specific issues. We know that there are black anarchists, gay and lesbian rights activists, feminists/womanists/animal rightists or vegans; we wanted that light shown here, for those of us who possess hetero-privilege, male-privilege or class privilege. In effect, we want/ed some spiritual and intellectual gumbo going on here that could fill us up with more and more light. And I’ll be damned if we don’t have some of that goin’ on here.

We believed and understood from our experiences that it is in smaller configurations that work actually gets done. Most mass movements have and always will depend on the actions of a few dedicated, committed laborers and visionaries.

Clearly the ‘Spear and its offshoots are similar because there has been some cross pollination by folks who were involved here and began participating in other groups. Some became excited with the initial concept and demonstrated their zeal by using the same name with a slight twist. Flattering to be sure, but highly confusing. And frightening.

“Where were they taking this and why?” “Is it being borrowed or ‘jacked?” “Is it my ego or are these legitimate concerns?”

I know I looked on with some trepidation as I saw some folks borrow the name but forget the concepts at root of what we were trying to do: bringing us under one banner that acknowledges our differences, commonalities and tensions and seeks to resolve them through passionate, authentic engagement.

“AfroSpear, we have a problem!” Or do we?!

Is it a branding issue, or is it something more, deeper, darker? Those of us who are a part of the AfroSpear and all of its tributaries should think about this confusing state of affairs and how it should be resolved – if it needs resolving. Clarity and greater coalescing might prove fruitful.

7 Responses to “Will The REAL AfroSpear Please Standup?!”

  1. Update us as you can, man. Really interesting conversations are developing around this.

  2. “Jose: Really interesting conversations are developing around this.”

    Really – where????

  3. At http://afrospear.wordpress.com like that post you commented on before. That blog was interesting.

  4. I gotta be honest, even with these hot words, and the understanding I thought I had at first, I sorta feel like an outsider in all of this, so I’m just quietly reading till this all resolves itself.

  5. Well, Jose, just know that this is my interpretation ONLY! I know that I used we a lot. Things typically go in a circular fashion so we’ll see how things revolve while they resolve – over and over again.

  6. Freeslave, when I read the post on the Afrospear site I really didn’t realize a split was in effect. When I read Asa’s post I was a bit taken aback by the fact that this riff had occured or at least how it occured and the name being used by those that created the splinter did some what irritate my conscious. I have felt I am and have been clearly aligned with the original AfroSpear and I am squarely claiming this Afrospear, the original Afrospear since I was one of the writers that engaged in the beginning talks concerning the Afrospear concept and agreed with the concepts you outline above.

  7. I’m not aware that any split has taken place anywhere. The AfroSpear began with a small group of people communicating by e-mail and blog post, etc., and it has since grown into a much larger group of people communicating by e-mail and blog post.

    Here’s a link to three blog posts that discuss that process from my perspective. I can’t imagine that any AfroSpear members would discuss a “split”, because when the NAACP discusses things like that in public, it invites the white-news media to declare that Blacks are dysfunctional infighters, which might be true of some groups, but certainly has never been true of the AfroSpear. That’s why our press has been uniformly positive. It’s because our media relations and publications (including blog posts) have been uniformly positive about our members and our organization.

    As a member of the AfroSpear Google Group, where private discussions like this would certainly take place if they were taking place at all, I am certain that there has never been any split of any sort. Everyone engaging in this conversation is part of that Google Group, so if there were a split of some sort, we all would be able to read about the discussion and participate in the discussion through the Google Group.

    Personally, I don’t read blogs to find out what’s going on within groups of which I am a member and whose internal business if private. Since I am privy to the internal and confidential e-mails where things like this are discussed, why would I want to go to a blog posting or seeking information? It’s like reading the newspaper to find out if your daughter is on the pill. There’s a reason e-mails to “Dear Abby” are always anonymous, naming neither the sender nor the persons involved in the problem, nor where they work . . .

    Because everyone in the AfroSpear is kinfolk to one another, with plenty of modes of relatively secure communication (group and individual e-mail, ooVoo, MSN, etc.) we ALL know whenever anything important happens. What a mess we would be in if we had to read in the mainstream white-news media (where all public discussions of Blacks’ business eventually ends up) to find out what was going on within our own organizations, particularly those of which we personally are members.

    Perhaps, there are some Black community problems that require the attention of white people, where the white news media, the white public, white politicians and white intelligence agencies are uniquely able to guide Black people toward constructive solutions to our intra-community challenges. But, if there are such problems, I haven’t figured out what any of them are yet.

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