How I Got Invited Then Uninvited To Speak On A Panel That I Wasn’t Getting Paid For (A BKHHF Love Story)
I always expect human beings to take the low road, especially when ego is involved. I realize how pessimistic and cynical that sounds but my experiences in life havenâ€™t really taught me much different. Iâ€™m not saying that good people donâ€™t exist, but finding rational people who arenâ€™t petty is hard to come by.
I was recently invited to speak on a panel for the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, which takes placeÂ on July 16 (and the panel is on Wed) but then got uninvited because of some â€œcommentsâ€ I made two years ago. Ironically, the panel was about the future of hip-hop journalism but apparently, being a journalist and speaking the truth is what got me uninvited. Go figure.
The “commentsâ€ I made were written in a blog for Honey magazine after I had a bad experience at the festival. Iâ€™ve been supporting the BKHHF as press and a fan since its second year of business. In 2009, when I went through said negative experience, I was frustrated and hurt so I wrote about it. My blog was about howÂ unorganized the event was and how I was treated like some random blogger who made up my credentials just to get inside for free. My name wasnâ€™t on the list despite having rsvpâ€™d and also attending (and covering) the pre festival press meet and greet a few days before, despite having covered it every year since â€˜05 for some of the biggest Hip-Hop outlets in the country (online and in print), and even despite volunteering my services to the committee. And letâ€™s face it: Most of the people who put the fete together pretty much donâ€™t get paid.
In that blog post, which was entitled â€œWhy Iâ€™m Over The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival,â€ I talked about how unorganized it was and expressed that I wanted them to get it together. Yet despite my criticism I wasnâ€™t malicious, just honest. And you know what? Even people who worked on the BKHHF festival committee cosigned what I said. I was even offered scandalous info of epic proportions because some bitter people wanted me to “expose” what was going on behind the scenes but that’s not my style so I didnâ€™t. My goal was to simply tell the truth about how they treated press but also to vent my frustrations hoping that maybe theyâ€™d take it into consideration. I didnâ€™t bash nor did I slander.
In addition to people revealing TMI about behind the scenes drama, someone also came to me and said â€œpeopleâ€ from the BKHHF were upset about my blog but they didnâ€™t tell me who or what was said. Iâ€™m a smart girl, I figured out who and of course I know that no one would be happy hearing/reading something negative about their baby but at the same time no one considered my side and the fact that I wasnâ€™t being malicious and that what happened to me didnâ€™t just happen to me. However, because of hubris, immaturity and lack of communication no one stepped to me like an adult about it. They held the grudgeâŽ¯a fact I suspected when I once sent a mass e-mail requesting help in a contest I participated in, and got the response from one of the then publicists to remove her from my list. Period. Not just take her off my mass e-mail list; just never e-mail her again. Wow. That type of request doesnâ€™t bother me but this felt strange. One: I rarely send mass e-mails and never get that type of response when I do. Two: My instinct told me it was done out of saltiness. So I removed her and lived my life. What you gonna do?
Fast forward to May 2011. I got a pleasant e-mail from a young woman who said she was putting together a panel for the BKHHF, for Pratt, and she thought Iâ€™d be good. Foolishly, I thought this was an olive branch or a, water under the bridge type of situation so I agreed to do it (and even got motivated to go to the actual festival again), even though I wouldnâ€™t be paid (and sacrificing hours from work). But then in early July, shortly after I got my speaking points and itinerary, I got an e-mail from her which ccâ€™d the BKHHF founder and presidentâŽ¯you can Google his name because heâ€™s popular (and it wonâ€™t live here)âŽ¯saying that because of the â€œcommentsâ€ I made she had to rescind my invite. Who does that?
So I took it as my â€œpunishmentâ€ and laughed at the ridiculousness of it. I guess it was more like, who do I think I am. Maybe it would have been an easier pill for them to swallow if I were a celebrity or â€œbig time.â€ Who knows?
Iâ€™m good on working with or associating with people who hold grudges on some bullsht and again, I wasnâ€™t getting paid. I responded to her e-mail. My reply wasnâ€™t rude, it was just a pithy expression of my disappointment in that type of behavior, which was handed down from the higher up who couldnâ€™t e-mail me him self but would rather be ccâ€™d just to make sure his order was carried out.
This is exactly the present and future of hip-hop journalism and why weâ€™re losing. People donâ€™t and wonâ€™t say anything that might offend peopleâŽ¯who are too irrational, egotistical and sensitive anywayâŽ¯because they donâ€™t want to ruin relationships. I understand that to a degree and have played that game as well, but sometimes some things just need to be said. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog or my Twitter knows that Iâ€™m good at saying not nice things in a respectful manner (if I choose to be tame about it) so this, for me, is not a lesson in keeping my mouth shut. If Iâ€™m passionate enough about somethingâŽ¯good or badâŽ¯then Iâ€™m going to use the platform that Iâ€™ve been given to speak my message whether people get mad or not. Itâ€™s a shame those kids at Pratt have to miss out but there are more panels where that came from. Kanye shrug.
Â Â You can read an excerpt of my â€œcommentsâ€ below and draw your own conclusion. I lost the whole blog but this is a good chunk:
[There was a photo from the concert leading the post]
Â Â The above picture was the best I could do because I wasn’t able to get access to the press area. That might have been Brand Nubian performing but I’m not sure because at that point, I was extremely annoyed. There was a great line up last Saturday including Tiye Phoenix, Brokn.English, Donny Goines, Dead Prez, Pharoahe Monch and Styles P. Plus, people came out in the name of love, unity and good hip-hop. I should have had fun but instead, I got slighted.
Â Â I love the concept, the love and the energy of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, which is why I initially planned to attend every single one that I could (it’s great when I can combine work with passion), but after attending my fourth BHHF on Saturday, I’ve concluded that it was also my last. I have never had a problem getting my credentials, but there’s a first time for everything. The organization this year was chaotic and unprofessional. (NOTE: This is not a reflection on my personal feelings for committee members who I know and love, it’s strictly about the business aspect).
Â Â I suppose the Brooklyn Bodega and The Room Service Group were trying to tighten up who they let get in as press because in previous years, people pretended to be covering the event so that they could get access to artists but the problem is, in this year’s attempt to have it more together, they kept out press that should have had full access–ie me (and some others I spoke to who wanted to get down to business). Some of my associates who performed in the show told me that the backstage area was so flooded with amateur press (this is literally what they said) that it was hard to move. If that sounds cocky, then so be it. I’ve written and been on staff at The Amsterdam News, Scripps Howard, Elemental magazine, XXL magazine, Hiphopdx.com, Ballerstatus.com, VibeVixen.com, Allhiphop.com and more. I’ve interviewed activists, politicians and celebrities and have never had a problem with accuracy and credibility so how did I get dissed? I’m still not sure.