Blogging While Black Revisited

Like last year’s Blogging While Black, this year’s did not disappoint. It is my favorite panel so far, and I left with a lot of interesting thoughts in my head and a lump in my throat. It expressed, through the lens of what it’s like to express your cultural identity as a black person online, my absolute favorite thing about blogging: that blogging allows me to get a glimpse into lives, cultures, situations and events that I would never have to opportunity to otherwise. The panel is that same experience as an “out of browser experience.” I don’t know what it’s like to be black, or the challenges faced by minorities in coping with what feels like being stuck in two worlds: the black community and a society dominated by white culture. It was just fascinating to me, and I thought the panelists did a fantastic job of expressing their individual issues, their internal struggles, and the larger questions raised.\
I especially love George Kelly. George and I don’t get to spend enough time together, but from the moment I met him, I loved him. George is one of the most beautiful people you will ever meet. He is kind and deliberate in everything he says. He glows with kindness in a way I’ve never seen before, and love being around. He is whip-smart, eloquent and inspirational (the “out of browser experience” line is his, as were several other winners in today’s panel). I think he takes great pains to make sure that the people around him feel included and a part of his space (which I don’t think makes sense, but I don’t know how else to express it). George, you are a prince among men, and I hope you know it.\
I wish I could express how great the panel was today. It was more than the sum of the words spoken or the people in the panel. Last year, I felt a little uncomfortable, sitting there feeling like an intruder in what looked like a private discussion among a community I didn’t belong to. Today, I felt like I was being drawn into a discussion, an open expression of what it means to be black. I wasn’t being talked to, I was being talked with, and the difference was subtle, but everyone in that room was involved. About halfway through, almost all the laptops were closed and everyone was jazzed. We were all awake (even though it was the last panel of the day), and participating. There was laughter and some challenge, and some pain. But it was all done together, as a single group. I don’t think anyone left that room feeling left out or alone. We left having experience something together.\
I’m really really tired now, and that probably made no sense, but Blogging While Black encapsulates what makes SxSW so special. Even though it’s huge this year, and I’m hobbled and stressed out about my panel, I felt that attraction, that feeling of belonging, that recharges me and keeps me going for another year. Thank you, George. Thank you, Lynne. Thank you, Jason. Thank you, Tiffany. Thank you, Tony.

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Kevin.
    I’m so glad we improved this year and were able to help everyone feel more included. It was one of the things we hoped to do.

  2. I agree with you about George. He’s wonderful. I have read his postings and know him though Jason’s site but i’m so glad i finally got to meet him.

  3. Kevin, thanks for writing this. I attended the panel expecting to have a discourse with other black bloggers and a few non-black “guests”.
    I was pleasantly surprised to see a good deal of diversity in the room. Moreso, it thrilled me to see participation by everyone (not just the black attendants).
    The interaction between the audience and the panel transcended the traditional Q&A. There was true dialogue in that room. I am proud to have been a part of it.

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