After nearly four years it’s time for me to say goodbye.
Tom is doing great work right now, and I have a lot of stories in me that I can’t wait to share. But I was doing a lot of things at once, and I can’t keep all the balls in the air.
Also, in the back of my head, I’ve always wondered if this was sort of a failure.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always said that if we entertained one person for one moment then it justified every bit of work we did. And although we weren’t trying to write the Great American Novel, I think there’s some decent stuff on here. I also don’t want to minimize the great work of everyone who contributed, Tom, Jasmine, Arin, I’m proud of what we’ve done. We also got a lot more traffic then I ever thought we would. My advice to future bloggers is to write something about Pete Rose.
And along the way, I formed an incredible working relationship with Tom, and as a sort of solitary creative person to have Tom AND Jasmine is really amazing. I’m a high-energy, difficult person, and Tom is a deliberate, contemplative person and it just sort of clicked. You couldn’t imagine how many hours we spent putting things together, bouncing ideas off of each other and how many unfinished drafts there are on WordPress.
But its not quite what I wanted.
See it wasn’t supposed to be about me really. In the beginning, we wanted to establish a brand, but this blog was supposed to be for other people. In my head it was going to be a bazaar of sorts, a place where people who usually didn’t have an outlet for their creativity could do their thing under our umbrella. Aside from being kinda worksafe, and maintaining a level of writing competency we would stay out of the way and let people do their thing.
I knew a ton of people that I thought really had something special to share. I wanted a place where they could do it, and everyone could see the same spark I saw. In fact, I really wanted a female presence here.
In sort of poking around, I kept hearing about the lack of opportunities for women in a lot of creative contexts, and I understand being left out of the boy’s club. I saw a lot of films, comics, stories and blogs that didn’t have female voices included in the discussion, and when there were outlets for women, they were sort of homogeneous. I believe in diversity and I wanted a chance to show it.
It was a colossal flop.
I’d like to give you reasons for it, but I don’t know. Maybe people didn’t see any upside of doing it, especially with us. I know that actual creative output has been sort of devalued, it’s easier to play a video game, or watch television, or dick around on the Internet, than to actually make something, but to me a writer is a person that has to write, there is no choice on the matter. It doesn’t matter if anyone sees it, it’s just what they do. And I don’t see a lot of writers.
I can tell you I’ve been trying to get women to participate in this for years, and the overwhelming majority flaked out on me spectacularly. I still don’t know what I’ve learned from this, but it has affected how I feel about inclusion, I wish I could say it hasn’t.
Tom and Tom: Black Like You was supposed to be an inclusive site that welcomed everyone. We’re black, but we wrote a jokey preamble on being post-racial and moved on with it.
People thought it was a ‘black’ site and avoided it like the plague.
I eventually put a banner up that read ‘We Are All One’ out of desperation, and I got a better response. But for years, I got feedback that people didn’t want to read or participate with us because this was a ‘black’ site.
People that knew me personally. And my white wife.
Thought they weren’t welcome. That if something even had the word Black, they wanted nothing to do with it. The title of this site is a joke that references In Living Color, which I suppose is too black for those same people. But it sort of ate at us that this was happening.
Finally, this was supposed to be about satire, but satire presupposes that there is an established object of mockery or something that is inherently absurd. Right now there is a billionaire running for President that inherited all his money, ran most of his businesses into the ground through sheer incompetence, only succeeded by using public money to fund his enterprises, typically through illegal means and is supported by hate groups he refuses to denounce and roughly one in five Americans wants to give him the keys to the missile silos. I have the growing feeling that satire is pointless in this environment.
So all the reasons I wanted to do this feel stupid, honestly. I still have stories to tell, but I’m doing to do them differently, less publicly. There are stray things I wanted to do here to wrap up, and I may get to them, but it’s not a priority.
But the thing I want to leave every one of you with is a thank you. Whether you liked us or you didn’t, I appreciate your time, it’s the most irreplaceable asset we have, and you gave me some of yours and that means a lot. You also gave us great feedback, which is the only way an artist can get better, and you helped me get better.
Goodbye, and one way or another, I hope to see you again.