BlogHer ’14: Never Stop Telling Our Stories About Race


VOTY Keynote Readers at BlogHer14

Me with some of this year’s VOTY Keynote reader: (L to R) August McLaughlin, me, Phyllis Myung, Tammy Soong, Ashley Garrett, Kristen Vanderhey Shaw

It’s taken me two days to fully recover from BlogHer jet lag and my red-eye flight back to DC (2AM!).  BlogHer 2014 has been my favorite and best experience so far. The smaller size and the San Jose location made it easy to navigate and run into people I knew.  As an alumnus of Voices of the Year Keynote, I was invited to introduce three of this year’s readers.

Last year, I nervously waited backstage for Queen Latifah to arrive and for my turn to read my piece.  Me and the other 11 VOTY keynote readers. I was not even nervous this year (except for hoping I wouldn’t trip on stage in front of 2000 people and 2 jumbotrons).  I sat backstage with the 12 VOTY keynote readers and the other VOTY alumni introducing them.

The energy backstage was a mixture of excitement, fear, anxiety, suspenseful, but most of all, love and support from fellow writers, bloggers-all friends. If we weren’t friends before that night, we are now. The experience is unforgettable. I hope it was the same for this year’s honorees.

Phyllis Myung and Thien-Kim Lam at BlogHer14

I know this picture of me and Phyllis is out of focus, but I love it!

One of the pieces I had the honor of introducing was written by Phyllis Myung of Napkin Hoarder, whom I met that very morning at breakfast.  Her piece, “Sometimes I Still Wish I Was White,” hit home.  As one of two Asian students in my high school (the other being my sister), I wanted to fit in so badly. Enough to perm my waist length hair (talk about fail).

That night, two other women read their stories about their struggle with race:

As I sat there and listened to their stories (I didn’t read them before the keynote), I was saddened. Their stories about feeling alienated because of their race and feeling unsupported because the color of their skin are similar to my VOTY story. Not much has changed about race relations since last year.

No matter what people say about America being post-racial because we finally have a black president–we are not post-racial.

At first I felt discouraged. Here were 3 more women opening their hearts and sharing their struggle of living with skin that is not white. Women who struggle to raise their brown-skinned children in a world where skin color still matters. Will my children be telling similar stories when 10 or 15 years from now?

Then it hit me.

We must continue to tell our stories about race.

If we stay quiet, then others will not know. They will hope and wish to believe that racism no longer exists or does not affect them or their families. We can’t stop. Not ever. While the themes of each of our stories are the same, our perspective is different. Racism is not about the individual. Racism is about the lack of understanding and refusal to learn about other’s cultures.

Write your story. Put a face to racism.

No matter your skin color, share your story. Listen and read other’s stories. Only then can we grow as a country. Only then can we grow as human beings.

Tell your story so that we can learn from each other for the individuals that we are and not the race our skin tone is supposed to represent.

That was what I learned that night, sitting backstage during the Voices of the Year Keynote.

BlogHer14 Closing Keynote On Race, Gender, and the Internet

BlogHer14 Closing Keynote On Race, Gender, and the Internet

If you missed the BlogHer closing keynote about race, gender and the internet, read Grace Lynch Hwang’s thoughts about it (she was a panelist). Lots of good links and discussion.


  1. GixxerKitten August 3, 2014
  2. Mama Harris August 7, 2014