Thursday, January 5, 2012
South Dallas author publishes Blogging While Black
Through his blog, Shawn Williams has become an authority on South Dallas.
When Shawn Williams began blogging in 2006, he had no idea of what he was getting himself into. In fact, he barely knew what a blog was, simply taking the advice of his favorite magazine, Men’s Health, to start Dallas South Blog.
Initially, his focus was on issues pertaining to the areas of the city that were south of the Trinity River Bridge. His objective was to bring a different perspective to how areas such as Oak Cliff were being portrayed in the media, which at the time he felt were typecasted negatively. Unbeknownst to Williams, the blog would soon become a go-to for many outside of the area that he actually covered; people from across the nation began visiting it. He had become a recognized authority on issues concerning the underserved populations of the city.
Fast forward five years, and Williams is still blogging as editor of the online newspaper Dallas South News, a content partner of Pegasus News. Most recently he was able to add published author to his repertoire when completed his first book, Blogging While Black.
As Williams describes it, Blogging While Black chronicles the pinnacle of the black blogging experience — the “golden era,” as he has dubbed it. Spanning across a short but impactful period of time for African American bloggers, the movement began in early 2007 with the plight of Shaquanda Cotton in Paris, Texas, and ended with the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It was during this near two-year period that “African-American bloggers exerted a level of pressure on the mainstream media and political process that hadn’t been seen since the end of the traditional civil rights movement,” Williams writes in the book.
Williams uses emails and excerpts from his own blogging experience to describe the input and impact of African-American bloggers on issues such as the Don Imus debacle, the Jena 6, and of course the 2009 Presidential election. These issues and stories played an important role in shaping the story of American culture during the time, especially for African Americans. For many, the idea of “race issues” or racism still being a major concern for so many — even in the new millennium — was a shock. For African-American bloggers, it was an opportunity to voice the opinions and concerns of a culture that had all but died since the civil rights movement. They gave a voice to a (current) generation that had remained quiet, dare say apathetic, contrary to the noise of injustice that surrounded.
Blogging While Black is more than a historical recount, however. In addition to sharing his own journey from local blogger to authority on political and cultural issues, Williams offers practical advice to aspiring writers, bloggers, and journalists. Aptly entitled “U Can 2!” at the end of each chapter, Williams shares his own tips for becoming a successful blogger. Known for his use of modern technology, especially social media, he offers simple advice on how to leverage social media sites and everyday tools such as smart phones to capture and report history in the making.
The book took about one year to write and another 10 months to publish, which Williams did independently through Outskirts Press. His inspiration for the book was to document a period in time that affected him and so many others on both a professional and personal basis. He also hopes that it will spark that voice inside of another would-be blogger.
Writing became Williams vehicle for giving a voice to the voiceless. And he didn't do it alone: Family, friends and mentors kept him motivated. And as an early content partner with Pegasus News, Williams said he appreciates the opportunity given to him. It was one of the first signs that people were truly interested in what he had to say.
For those contemplating writing a book, Williams says, “sit down and start writing.” He did.
Williams will be at the Dallas Institute on January 9 for a talk and book signing.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Assignment Desk, DFW