Will The REAL AfroSpear Please Standup?!
My sister, Lisa of BlackWomenBlowTheTrumpet.blogspot.com left this query today:
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.