I obsessively checked my phone. Where is the damn reply I’m waiting on? I don’t want to send multiple emails, but I will. Was I rude? Maybe I don’t have a large enough audience. I faced the situation and sent another email, despite my better judgment. This time I made sure that I was nice and direct and clearly outlined my objectives.
Me: “Men’s brand X” I’ve followed your social media accounts for some time. I also see that we could both potentially benefit from cross-promotion. Maybe we could collaborate on a project that will be mutually beneficial. I have some ideas of how this could work if you would like to get together to chat, or exchange emails please let me know. Look forward to hearing from you.
Them: I saw your first email. I am doing fine on my own. Please don’t contact me again.
Isn’t that the shittiest response! Sadly, it’s not the first time I received a similar response. I was not shocked. I was, however, surprised by departure from the account branding.
This is the reality for M.O.C.’s in the online creative community. Do African-American men struggle to work collaboratively? Do they believe they have to ride solo to be great? I attempt to collaborate with people/brands that appeal to my audience who are mostly African-American. I have primarily attempted to work with M.O.C. I already communicated with and who represent a diverse age range.
Is this how it has to be?
I find an utter lack of community, connectivity, and an overall lack of interest in communal growth. Communal growth as it pertains to cross-promotion and sharing creations across audiences. In general, there is nothing more than a bunch of bullshit and smoke blowing, both of which we could all do without.
One account proclaimed their “commitment to partnership”, and “dedication to collaboration and uplift”. I also remember the behavior they exhibited when they wanted me to follow and support their efforts. I understand that’s the game but does it have to be? What does that say to the people who follow you legitimately? None of this is required participation. It does, however, give each creator the opportunity to uplift a fellow creator and perhaps aid their personal journey. We all know there is power in numbers.
I began my journey as an online creator to share my passion for writing, personal development, style, and music. I don’t just want to share; I need to share. I want to fill the chasm where we miss leadership and scholarship. I am intent on spreading positive energy and promoting things I and other young men like myself are potentially missing.
On the other hand
I do not believe I am the only one who wants this, but my perspective is gripping and unique. I want to create spaces that celebrate men of color and raise the bar for intellectual discourse. Don’t get me wrong, we all indulge in less serious events or celebrity gossip. We throw in our two cents on a twitter dragging here or there. But that cannot be the total of our online existence, so I refuse to accept that finality.
I have observed a range of three responses from my outreach.
- Collaboration emails go unanswered.
- Shitty responses.
- Disinterest disguised as time constraint or lack of follow-through.
Collaboration allows creatives to tap into larger audiences thereby increasing their success rate. This simple fact often goes unnoticed. Cooperative help should be transparent and clearly communicate that each individual offers their uniqueness It’s not a competition.
Could I be wrong? Do I have skewed expectations? Maybe what I have experienced is based on who I am as a creator, or maybe my audience is too small…unhuh that’s it. Some creators could have potentially reached their collaboration capacity or don’t they like what I do? I am ok with all of those possibilities. The problem is the lack of viability of those options.
Of course, I have not talked to every black man. That would be impossible and impractical. Over the past year I have attempted to collaborate with more than fifty different creators and of that fifty tries, 4 have been successful. It is probable some of that has to do with me, but I have also talked with others about their experiences and there is little shift in the narrative.
I have no naïve expectations of camaraderie simply because I share a gender and ethnic background with someone. I take the time to follow and support these people on top of ensuring the situation is mutually beneficial. They have all at one point discussed how they “want to give back”, “mentor”, and “create a collective of like-minded individuals” but when the offer exists the fear of diminished value spooks them.
I address the topic collaborative communities for A.A creators from my perspective as one. Basically, I am saying a lot of men are out there hustling as digital creators, but many of them are full of shit. There is probably some club or niche group somewhere pitching several fits and replying I have shared a bunch of bitter bullshit.
Ironically, I’m not bitter. I really want to draw attention to the issue and help move toward building something positive. “You can’t heal what you won’t talk about”.