140 characters – a tweet — ignited quite an exchange between myself and the champions of the new KickStarter initiative, Kicking Up The Past (KUTP) this week. If you’re reading this post though, that’s not news to you is it? So I’ll spare you the historical recap — there are 2 posts (KUTP Exchange I & Exchange II) that capture the dialogue vividly.
For the sake of argument and to add context to the thoughts that follow, I will share the culprit — my infamous tweet:
“@KicknUp_thePast will subject of Slavery be explored via your #KICKSTARTER documentary? #genealogy”
The FACTS. Has the exchange between KUTP and myself been uglier and more public than I’d hoped? YES. Do I hate white people OR their [pretty cool concept] genealogy TV projects? NO and NO. Go shake my family tree — present and/or past. You’ll find the leaves quite colorful, diverse, loving and accepting. And being a historian who’s advocated for TV programming reflective of us (vested, die-hard genealogists and family researchers), I was stoked to learn of the Kicking Up The Past project and immediately began following their tweets!
Do I regret my public tweet (sent twice to KUTP) and/or posting the exchanges that followed to OGR. NO. Twitter is a real time, open social platform. That’s the beauty of it! If you’re talking to me (KUTP followed me too), then I have the right to talk back. If I don’t see information related to me in the conversation, it’s okay for me to ask – why not?
And after receiving KUTP’s response yesterday (Exchange II), I was relieved I’d chosen to post the comments (of both parties) verbatim, rather than attempting to summarize them from my perspective.
KUTP’s response was loaded with race/class insults, and it would’ve been easy to fire right back! I could’ve come out swinging defending myself from the accusations of being a social media bully, tactical TV program take-down artist and God help me, an Ice Road Truckers reality fan! Is that a real show by the way?!:)
But what would it have solved? Would it answer the question that’s remained on the table — with targeted, marketing being delivered online to “real Americans” and Native Americans, why was there little to no messaging reflective of the African American demographic being marketed to?
To quote Anne Ruess‘ recent SteamFeed article 3 Contagious Reasons for Creatives and Business Leaders to Be Inclusive:
“Do you know how it feels to be excluded from a conversation? It especially stinks when you have an enormous hunger to build relationships and share ideas.”
Place that feeling in the context of my Slave Ancestored legacy and oft times culturally/historically ignored present and you land at the reason clarification for me — and MANY others — was needed. Was the absence of the African American historical intentional or an oversight?
That’s it. 2 clarification tweets to meet 160+ KUTP tweets in 2 days coming directly to me.
Sure I’ll leverage Social Media to address a public slight or offense. And WITHOUT QUESTION I’ll advocate for equal representation and/or respect for my Emancipated Slave Ancestors and their legacy.
BUT I’ve also led Slave Ancestry discussions and collaborations across races in this community too. I roll-up my sleeves to offer my skills/time to the genealogy community in mass — and always have. I don’t just talk about pushing genealogy research and legacy understanding forward — I work to be a catalyst in the effort. Am I one to prey on the innocent on any platform? NO — but I’ll face a bully, exploiter or predator in a heartbeat.
And finally, do I have a need to be KUTP’s poster-child for African-American outreach? Whew! Not even going there — just can’t!:)
My final thoughts on Kicking Up The Past, support the project as you feel guided to, but as for me I have ZERO intent on doing so.
Not because I have issues with white folks [who host President Obama's campaign parties] or resentment towards other historical perspectives being reflected. Not because I don’t dig the concept model or see the potential in it – I do. As a matter of fact, I’d intended to suggest a fun means of getting ALL the genealogy community on board as KUTP champions!
KUTP won’t have my support because it didn’t care about my interest and/or opinion when nothing was at stake other than a tweet. We can push the tweets and marketing messages aside.
The response from Ken Marks yesterday reflects clear cultural intolerance and insensitivity, as well as a TOTAL disregard for me as a human being — let alone consumer of genealogical products. His comments speak clearer than any marketing message ever could.
If I couldn’t trust KUTP to acknowledge my concern and right to voice it, I would never entrust them with my hard earned dollar or Ancestors story.
And though nothing I’ve said in our exchanges was reflective of a “pissing match”, I do consider this discussion over.