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Why I Need To Go To A Blogging While Brown Conference

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 11, 2016

I’d like to share a couple of mentions I got this week, both on the same day. The first was from a post by my buddy Steve Borek, who credits me for convincing him to start blogging, titled The First Step Is The Hardest To Take. The second is from Ileane Smith‘s site Basic Blog Tips, where Lisa Sicard wrote a compilation piece based on advice as to why Twitter is great for marketing titled Twitter For Blogging – 15 Reasons It’s Proven Powerful. Go check them both out, as both articles are excellent.

Street art: 1968 Olympics Black Power (human rights) salute
Melbourne Streets Avant-garde
via Compfight

This coming weekend I’ll be going to my first ever non-medical billing conference. It’s called the Blogging While Brown, and it’s a conference for people of color who blog, this year being held in Washington D.C. I’m hoping it’s a lot of fun and educational at the same time, and my buddy Yasmin Shiraz is the only person I definitely know who’s going to be there.

Some of you might ask why there’s a need for a specific conference for people of color. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be one with each other?

Actually, that would be very nice, but unfortunately it’s still pretty much a pipe dream in America. This past week was more proof that there’s a problem with race and that each side blames the other, to the point that I’ve changed my overall outlook on life as I know it and can’t see any time in the near future where we’re all going to get along with each other.

This isn’t a new thought that’s just come to me. After all, I wrote this post back in April on my business blog and created the video below yesterday:


https://youtu.be/HuJM0v5TQtY

I also created this video in April asking if we could all get along… y’all know that answer…


https://youtu.be/KBo2AFW47kI

I took a tough position on the blog post and kind of a tough position in the second video but not in the first. With the second video I took the position where I said that if we ever hope to overcome the issues we have with race, the police and anything else we can’t agree on we’re going to have to sit down and have a legitimate conversation with each other.

I’m of the opinion that there are really only two ways to solve issues permanently; one is by talking to each other, the other is by totally eliminating every single person who’s unwilling to try to find common ground so all that’s left is a lot of people who agree with each other. However, I’m thinking that second idea is fairly problematic, probably unattainable, and pretty much horrific so I’ll stick with the talking option. 🙂

Unfortunately I don’t see it happening any time soon. I’ve had to block or move a lot of people around who don’t seem to understand the issues or feelings of people like me. People who want to blame President Obama for a mess that’s been going on for almost 400 years are clueless. People who want to blame the Black Lives Movement are clueless. People who want to post stuff like All Lives Matter are pollyanna.

I know the question those who visit this blog want to ask; what’s this got to do with blogging or social media? Everything!

The posts of mine that get the fewest views or comments on my business blog are those that talk about race or diversity issues. Unless I’m addressing freedom of speech, the articles on this blog that get the least amount of traffic are those on social issues. I know few people who write on topics like these when mixed with other topics like those I write about. I’m kind of an anomaly; as if y’all didn’t already know that.

I’m not close to the radical some people might think I am. What I am is someone with a social conscious on a few issues that I feel the need to bring up from time to time. True, it might not necessarily always be good for business, but if that’s the only thing you care about then you’re not really a blogger but an entrepreneur.

Nothing wrong with that because not everyone is expected to stand up for something they believe in. After all, if you don’t stand up for something you’ll fall for anything, and it’ll probably be something negative.

Mark
Christoph Boecken via Compfight

That’s why I’m going to this conference. I don’t expect the topics to have all that much to do with race and I’m good with that; heck, I might be elated if none of it comes up. I’m even expecting to find people who don’t agree with a lot of other things I happen to like.

What I do know is that, for once, I won’t be an “only” at a conference, or one of the “chosen few” who shows up and spends most of my time alone because I didn’t fit in. Sometimes you just want to feel as though you’re part of a crowd where you actually possibly belong.

Four and a half years ago I started a series that I ran for 19 Fridays in a row called Black Web Friday. My intention was to bring websites and blogs that were created and written by black people into the public conscious because I’d been to too many sites that talked about the top 25, 50 or 100 whatever and never seen a single black face on the page. When I asked one writer about it she said ‘I don’t know any black bloggers.”

I felt it was important then to try to help bring some publicity to people who deserved it. I still think it’s important to do while acknowledging that it’s more difficult to find these days. Goodness, it’s difficult to find people in general who are creating new content on their own; even I can’t find that many anymore, which is another great reason to go to this conference.

If you’ve made it this far into the article, I first want to thank you for that. However, I’d like to ask a favor of you, if I may. If you know of any black bloggers you’ve found on your own, please share their name and link in the comment section of this post.

I have to warn you, if you post a link like you normally would your comment is going to spam. Please leave off the “http://www” part of the link so you won’t go to spam, because I think my program sometimes totally bounces some folk who try to post a full link. I’m curious to see who others might put down who I might not already know or who I might not have highlighted before. This could be an interesting experiment; I’ll hope to be pleasantly pleased. 🙂

If you don’t know any don’t fret; I’m sure I’ll be able to share a lot of names and folk with you after I get back next weekend. In the meantime, let’s try to be nice to each other for a while… please?
 

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Black History Month: The Blogger/Social Media Edition

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 15, 2016

I’m doing something different this time; I’m starting with a video. Watch it, laugh, but pay attention because once it’s over I’ve got more for you:


https://youtu.be/ociMBfkDG1w

Did you enjoy that? I enjoyed it a lot, so much so that I spent a big part of yesterday sharing it with a lot of folks for a lot of different reasons. You’re probably asking yourself why; you know I’m going to tell you. 🙂

The History teacher.
Neil Moralee via Compfight

This is Black History Month, the month where, if you’re paying attention, there are all sorts of folks in all sorts of places sharing historical information about the accomplishments of black people throughout American history. It’s a bigger deal than many people may think it is for the United States because, as you might guess, without black people most of this country wouldn’t have been built. Sure, it was slave labor and someone else did the designs, but the people who did the actual work… y’all know.

Anyway, yesterday my buddy Rasheed Hooda, of whom I’ve written about a couple of times, shared an image and quote by Morgan Freeman where he said this:

“Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man & I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” to which I responded “totally disagree.” He asked me if I cared to explain it and I said I offered a sound bite because the image gave a sound bite. I then said I would talk about it here. By the way, this is actually going to be a post about social media so stick with a bit of this backstory just a little longer please. lol

First, you have to see the build up to the conversation and the rest of the statement Morgan Freeman said to understand the full context:

Wallace: Black History Month you find…
Freeman: Ridiculous.
Wallace: Why?
Freeman: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
Wallace: Oh come on.
Freeman: What do you do with yours? Which month is white history month?
Wallace: [pause] Well, I’m Jewish.
Freeman: Okay. Which month is Jewish history month?
Wallace: There isn’t one.
Freeman: Oh, Oh. Why not? Do you want one?
Wallace: No.
Freeman: Right. I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
Wallace: How are you going to get rid of racism?
Freeman: Stop talking about it.I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And, I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace and you know me as Morgan Freeman. You don’t say, “Well, ahem! This white guy named Mike Wallace.” You don’t say it.

In context, his point is valid and has a totally different meaning than what it’s been given. The ridiculous of the moniker of the month isn’t because he doesn’t believe black history isn’t important, it’s that he believes it should be taught along with everyone else’s history. It pays to note that this interview was conducted in 2005 and in the years since he’s called out racism whenever he’s seen it, including last year when he spoke out against the killing of Freddie Grey & the Baltimore protests against the police. Thus, he said one thing and 10 years later was saying another thing; stuff to point out.

The Eagle has landed...
Creative Commons License Beverly & Pack via Compfight

Second, even he must realize that there’s kind of a marginalization of black people (I don’t use the term “african-american” unless I’m quoting someone else) by many people, even if they don’t know it. If you watched the video you saw when the one lady said “I’m black” and the other lady said “No you’re not”, then when another black person was pointed out she said “Well I know he’s black.” If you think that was just a joke, I can tell you that it’s the kind of conversation I used to have with people all the time.

Some of you might remember my post about wanting to be a top 50 blogger. I tend to believe the main issue isn’t that I’m not all that well known as much as the fact that I’m black, which makes me kind of unknown. That might seem paranoid until you go to a search engine, put in top 25 or top 50 bloggers or people on social media and see how many black people are represented. Most of the time there are none whatsoever. Every once in a while my buddy Ileane Smith gets a nod but there are plenty of other folks doing some pretty impressive things who are never mentioned.

I know, you’re thinking I’m paranoid, but I have more to share with you. I’ve commented on a few of these lists, asking the person who compiled the list why there weren’t any black people on it. The response I get from the writer is “I don’t know any.” The response I get from other commenters is “it’s ‘blanks’ list and they can have on it whomever they want”. I don’t dispute the second but I always question the first. Back in 2012 I ran a series for 19 weeks titled Black Web Friday where I highlighted 4 or 5 black bloggers, social media people or black owned websites. I had a larger list that wasn’t all that hard to find, which shows that there wasn’t this great void… just people not remembering who or what they might have seen. At least that’s how I saw it then… and I see it now.

One of the things I mentioned in my post last October about how I promote myself on Twitter is highlighting posts that people I know are posting there, or when I visit their blogs and I like the post I’ll share their links. What I didn’t mention is that I have another list which I call “Black Twitter”, and on that list are people who aren’t necessarily my friends but who I’m connected to and want to share their stuff because it’s good stuff.

I do that because as my Twitter presence has started to grow, I figure it gives me an opportunity to highlight more “folks” and get the word out there there’s more than me… not that any of them probably need my help but I do what I do. There are 24 people on that list; some folks like Ileane aren’t on that list because I have her on my friends list. In a way, this is my contribution to making sure that a month of black history isn’t all there is, at least when it comes to blogging and social media. To whit, I’d like to share the Twitter links of 10 black people who I think you should be checking out, only people who I haven’t shared here before (that knocks out Kim George, who I highlighted on this post about bloggers being leaders):

Steven Wilson

Elaine Perry

Martina McGowan

Sherman Smith

Kemya Scott

Nikki Woods

Vincent Wright

Ray

K. L. Register

Jesan Sorrells

The last name isn’t actually in that list. He’s a friend of mine locally who talks and writes about something called Conflict Resolution. I interviewed him last year; that interview is below… and we laughed a lot…


https://youtu.be/099tVM-QomM

Here’s the thing. Twenty years from now when I’m the same age as Morgan Freeman is now, do I want there to be a Black History Month? Nope, not at all. Do I believe we’re still going to need a Black History Month? As long as there are places like the state of Texas, which removed all references to black people from their schools history books in 2015 except for mentioning slaves and indicating that they were happy (can you believe such a thing?), absolutely! If you want quotes, here’s a great one from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr:

Our lives begin to end when we stop talking about things that matter.”

I hope I made my point. I’ve love to hear your opinion (I think lol) and see if there are any questions. However, since these types of posts rarely get comments, I’m not expecting any. But if anyone says they didn’t see it… I’ll be tracking it on Google Analytics. 🙂
 

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Independence – Emancipation Day

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 9, 2014

In what could be seen as a controversial stance I take, I actually consider today, July 9th, the real Independence Day. That’s because, for me, the day the 14th Amendment was passed, which brought equal rights and protections to all citizens of the country, was the real Emancipation Day, which many misinformed people think was January 1st, when Abraham Lincoln gave his decree known as the Emancipation Proclamation.

20140315_123308

What’s the truth? The reality is that when Lincoln freed slaves, he only freed slaves in the southern states during the Civil War. And let’s face the fact that it didn’t free a single slave, and probably 99% of them never even heard of it at the time. Not that he didn’t have encouragement to do so, as it was believed that putting it out there would encourage free black people to join the army and fight for the cause, which did happen although Union military leaders really didn’t want them… that is, until the losses started to pile up.

What many others don’t know is that many of the states that voted for it did it under threat of not being established as a state again, which pertains to those southern states that had to bite the bullet after losing the Civil War. And in truth passing it did little to equalize things or make them fair in any way… at least at the time. Actually even now, even so many years, a bill has to come before Congress known as the Civil Rights Bill; that’s just a shame…

I don’t get political on this blog all that often and I don’t necessarily want to go there now, but I feel like I have to. I go that way because of the topic of immigration and how there are so many who are fighting this, even though it’s a protection that was granted, to a degree, by the 14th Amendment.

There are many who believe that just because someone was born in this country that it shouldn’t automatically give them citizenship. Not only would this violate the Constitution because of this amendment (which was supported by United States v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898, but it throws out history in general as that’s how this country not only came to be in the first place but how it grew.

The attack is also against those who came to this country in an unorthodox manner (I’m preferring that to “illegal) and have not only lived here a long time but many have served in the military and done great deeds for this country. Many people say they should be deported and not be allowed to remain, that they’re a drain on the financial resources of this country (like they care since they don’t want to take care of people who have been citizens of this country for centuries) and that they bring heavy crime (uhhh, who’s in jail more than anyone else by the numbers?).

You know what? Yeah, there’s some criminal elements, and there are some folks who live off governmental benefits. That’s going to happen. But the overwhelming majority work hard, travel hard, make little but are honest, proud people who have tried to be great examples of the opportunities this country has to offer.

I’m not saying that the borders shouldn’t be tightened so that people would be forced to go the correct route to get into this country; goodness knows that if uneducated people can get in from one country terrorists with a bit more education can also get in, and do. I’m saying that if someone has been here a long time and proven their worth, which is the majority, that they not only should be allowed to stay but should be given the opportunities for citizenship that, in my opinion, they’ve earned.

There; that’s my political post for the year… I hope!
 

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I’m Black…

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 9, 2012

I just thought I’d get this out of the way: I’m black. I know you probably didn’t notice that from the picture over there on the right but yup, I am. At this point you’re probably wondering why I wrote that; you know I’m going to tell you.

photo of Mitch Mitchell I'm Just Sharing
See, black: photo courtesy
of Custom-Photogenics

Just about two weeks ago a young man named Christian, definitely an up-and-comer, wrote a post titled I’m gay. The fact that he typed “gay” with the small “g” was interesting and probably poignant in its own way. Frankly, I’m not typing anything in my titles with small letters, especially “black”.

Anyway, it was a very personal post, and by its tone I’m thinking that somewhere along the line he must have taken some heat from someone who probably made a comment based on his look, since I can’t figure out any other way they could have made the determination. I knew he was gay (don’t ask how) but my thought was “who cares”. That’s always my thought; if a person isn’t racist or hateful I could care less what they are.

Anyway, he put some of his feelings out there, basically stating his case that he is what he is, other things that he is, and that’s that; you either liked him or you didn’t, but that was that. I thought it was an interesting and powerful post, and it got lots of comments that, unfortunately, he didn’t respond to. Probably too close to him in a way.

So, what’s my explanation for my statement? Because it’s the political season, a presidential political season, and President Obama is going for a second term as president of these United States. And, well, those folks who didn’t vote for him are of two minds. One, he doesn’t really count as black, and two, black people only voted for him because he’s black.

I’ve heard it over 4 years, and it’s starting up again. I could make the argument that all things being equal Obama just might be way more qualified than Romney for the job, but it wouldn’t make much difference. Frankly, I hate getting into those types of political discussions because neither side is going to convince the other, and it won’t be long until either I’m being accused of voting one way “because” or I’m having to say their voting against “because”.

And then a friend of mine wrote something on Facebook Friday night that made me feel good. So of course I’m sharing it here:

For those of you who are proud of having Obama as the first African American president don’t allow people to make you feel bad about it. You have every right to your feelings. Stop letting folks make you feel like you are wrong for doing so. Stop letting folks pigeon hole you and try to attack your intelligence because you like Obama. Don’t allow folks to try and make you feel that you are incapable of making informed decisions because you like Obama. Especially don’t let anybody insult your intelligence by saying the only reason you voted for him is because you are black. Your intelligence and ability to make decisions runs much deeper than that.

We still live in a time where black folks are still having firsts after what over 400 years in this country. The first black president, the first black mayor in a town, the first black governor in a state, the first black legislator in a state and the list goes on. We are still having firsts. Having a love of your own does not mean you hate someone else. Be proud of who you are. Peace

Yes, that’s how I’ve been feeling since 2008. I wasn’t going to vote for Obama because he was black; I was a Hillary Clinton fan. But when all was said and done I wasn’t voting for McCain – Palin and that was that. But the accusations… I don’t back down from those kinds of fights in person but online, it’s an argument that makes no sense to have.

So it’s been stated, I fully agree and feel vindicated, and that’s that. If I don’t have to deal with any stupid mess from this point until the election I won’t be talking politics here. If I do, as I had to do late in October 2008, I’ll do it, but man, please let’s hope I don’t have to go there again.

Yeah, I’m black. With some Cherokee & some other southern tribe as well; none of us are totally one thing, right? 🙂
 

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Dr. King Would Feel Better

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 4, 2012

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It seems that I make this almost an annual thing on both this blog and my business blog, where today I wrote on the topic of 5 Things Dr. King Wouldn’t Be Happy About. Last year on this blog I wrote on what I saw was a different take on things concerning the date and how little things have changed.

I’m slightly modifying that this year. I’m modifying it because of what’s been going on the last couple of weeks, and how it signifies, in some way, just how things have changed.

I’m talking about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida and all that’s happened because of it. Unfortunately there’s still no real resolution of what’s gone on down that way. The guy who killed him is still out of jail, and police chief has temporarily stepped aside, and the police are trying to make out like this kid was the instigator of his own demise; police will be police I’m afraid.

There’s been a major movement in this country over this case, and what’s fascinating about it is that no one has been killed over it. There hasn’t been any riots. Cities across the country have held some kind of rally in support of this kid, even here in Syracuse. It’s talked about almost every night on the news, both national and local.

Back in 1968, Martin’s story wouldn’t have made the news anywhere. No one put anything about black people on the news unless it was something major. Back in 1968, after Dr. King was killed, people went on a rampage all over the country. The police and military went on alert. For days it was scary, even for us little kids. I lived in the suburbs so I was isolated, but from what I hear things were tense in the city, though I’m not sure if there were riots or not; that had happened years earlier.

People are actually talking this time around. The conversation is about racism in general. The conversation is about guns and the rights of gun owners. The conversation is about youth culture and profiling; come on now, hoodies? The conversation is about the difference between protecting oneself and stalking and provoking someone into action so you can feel justified in killing them. The conversation is about how the police sometimes cover things up. The conversation is about a search for truth, justice, and the American way; yes, I had to work a Superman quote in there.

This is how things should happen. We should all be able to talk about things we don’t like, talk about things that scare us, talk about change, talk about difficult topics in the open. True, it’s not happening everywhere. Goodness, I’m surprised to find so many people who, when I mention it, say “Who?” Now there’s a level of oblivion I’ll never understand.

And it’s in this spirit that I write my Black Web Friday series going right now. It offers the chance for people to get to know each other and open a conversation. It offers the chance for all of us to grow together.

The first link above talks about what Dr. King might not be happy about. I think he’d be happy that for once people are talking peacefully; that’s never a bad thing.
 

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