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Blogher 12 Wrap Up (Part Three)

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blogher 12 Wrap Up (Part Three)

When I read that CNN's Soledad O'brien was going to be moderating a panel at Blogher12, I was super excited.  She was scheduled to chat with Christy Turlington Burns and Malaak Compton-Rock about their foundation, charities, and documentaries.  The point of this keynote event was to discuss how we can help to bring about change through social media.

I've met Ms. Obrien in the past and had the pleasure of speaking with her at another conference.  She was just as poised and passionate about her work, and was equally committed to the foundation she started with her husband.  The video clips of the young ladies revealing how they've had to overcome so many different adversities brought tears to my eyes.  Their mission to help young women achieve their educational goals was inspiring.  I was impressed with how she described her husband suggesting that their daughters give up their bedroom to one of the sponsored scholars, and camp out on the living room floor.  It's so important to teach our kids the importance of giving back.  For me, family has always been number one, and I plan to get Princess involved in the community as she gets older.  It's interesting how the platforms of these women centers around children, which makes perfect sense.  As cliche as it may sound, 'the children are our future.'

Hearing Christy Turlington's story made me realize the importance of that statement.  I went home later that night and gave Princess a bigger than normal hug.  Turlington's words spoke to me in a special way.  Maybe it's because I recently gave birth, and the memory of delivering my baby girl is still fresh in my mind.  

I've always known her as the face of companies like Maybeline.  But, I began realize that there's so many more layers to this beautiful woman.  She revealed her story of having severe complications during her pregnancy.  She said that experience set her life on a different path.

Her organization began as a campaign, but later evolved into a mission that focuses on programs that improve the survival of women and children in impoverished communities.  She also encouraged us to put an end to mommy wars.  I think it's so important for women to support each other.  As Katie Couric mentioned in her interview, we may not agree on some things.  But, it's important to respect other peoples opinions.  However, you'll probably call me a hypocrite after reading my thoughts on Malaak Compton-Rock.

The only thing I know about her is that she's the wife of actor/comedian, Chris Rock.  Aside from the trip she took to Africa with Oprah, I was unaware of Malaak Compton-Rock's philanthropic pursuits- until this past weekend.  I had the pleasure of running into Mrs. Compton-Rock in the rest room prior to the keynote address.  It was just the two of us.  She had finished prepping for the interview, and I couldn't pass up the chance to meet her.

Me: "Hi! You're Malaak, right?"
Malaak: "Yes."
Me: "I'm Stacy-Ann Gooden from Weather Anchor Mama."
Malaak: Silence
Me: "I recognize you from your picture.  You're the second or third person I've recognize from their picture."
Malaak: Silence

I was probably coming off as a psycho babbler, and thought I might as well shut up.  She was using the toilet for christ sake!  But after a brief pause, I asked:

"Have you been down there yet? Obviously, you haven't.  Sorry."
 I Don't recall an answer
Me: "Okay, well I'll see you downstairs."
Malaak:  Okay.

As I exited the bathroom, she came out of the stall and washed her hands.  I held the door open thinking she'd follow me out.  But, she didn't.  I wondered why she wasn't friendly.  She seemed so down to earth at first glance.  Did she think I was crazy?  She went in there to use the bathroom, and I kept rambling.

On my way downstairs, I ran into another blogger who told me she just ran into Christy Turlington.  We stood by the elevator chatting about our experiences with the ladies.  I remember telling her, "I think Malaak is nervous.  She didn't speak much.  I think she's trying to focus on talking points."  By this time the interview was getting ready to start, and we made our way to the grand ballroom to make sure we got good seats.

The introductions were made, and the soon after Soledad O'brien began the discussion.  When she asked Mrs. Compton-Rock about her foundation, she couldn't answer the question.  In fact, she stop mid-sentence quit a few times.  I looked around to see if anyone else notice this.  We all gave each other a look of confusion.  I thought that maybe she just needed to get in the groove.  Soledad O'brien did a great job trying to finish her sentences, and moved on to Christy when she realized that Malaak was having a difficult time.  Then the whispers began.

Everyone began to speculate, "Maybe she's not feeling well," one lady said.  Another replied,  "Maybe somebody died."  Initially, I felt bad for her because I also thought that there was personal issues going on.  But, she never once hinted at anything.  At one point she did apologize for the "brain fart."  I'm not sure if I'd use those words at that particular moment.  But, I did find it endearing in a way.  It revealed that she was human.  I thought for sure she'd come around.  However, it was like watching two trains collide.  She went on to say things that didn't make sense.  She repeated the same things over and over again.  "We went to Namibia, South Africa, Namibia, South Africa, Namibia, South Africa."

When asked about why she chose this cause she answered, "my husband is from Brooklyn."
When asked what motivates her she was stumped.  Soledad then said,  "We'll give you a moment to think about it Malaak, Christy?"
After Christy's eloquent answer, Malaak responded, "You all.  You all motivate me."

Nothing made sense.  How could we motivate you?  Your organization benefits kids in Africa and Brooklyn.  Isn't that why your here?  The last straw was how poorly she describe the children in Africa.  I wondered how connected she was to her cause.  The women from Africa who happened to be sitting at my table couldn't stop talking about how disappointed there were with her.

At one point Soledad mentioned that while they were all in Africa, Malaak looked more and more fabulous as time went on.  FYI, Malaak's foundation empowers kids by letting them see how things are in shanty towns.  She also offers kids in Brooklyn an opportunity to trace their African roots.  Unlike all the other women who spoke during the conference, I couldn't feel her passion.  While I understand that she may not be comfortable in front of a large crowd, it's important to be prepared.

I later spoke with a few other bloggers who felt sorry for her.  Many were surprise when I said I didn't.  Everyone said they wouldn't mention this in their blogs.  But, I felt it was important to write this post.  I'm not in the market of bashing anyone.  However, I've always been a firm believer in being prepared.  We all made a huge effort to attend this conference.  She never let on that there was anything wrong.  She just didn't seem connected to her cause or the audience.  This was evident when I later ran into the same young lady I'd been speaking with in front of the elevators.  She told me of her encounter with Malaak Compton-Rock after the keynote.  She greeted her and mentioned that she was from Zimbabwe.  Mrs. Compton-Rock had her head down and responded with, "I'd like to visit there one day."  The young lady from Africa said she was so insulted.  She also expressed her discontent at how Malaak spoke about the children in Africa.  Since her foundation centers around Africa, she had hoped to get a warmer response.

I pray that she was just having a bad day.  If not, Malaak Compton-Rock has a lot to learn.  Even though things didn't go well with her, it didn't tarnish the overall message of using your voice and your platform to make a real, measurable difference.  I think despite that hiccup everyone was inspired.  

Weather Anchor Mama


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At August 7, 2012 at 7:24 AM , Blogger Cleverly Changing said...

You wrote about this incident with grace. Being at the Conference the first day seemed so empowering. Starting with President Obama's speech I felt so much positive energy. Then, by the last day, I wasn't sure how to process the interview with Soledad O'brien, Christy Turlington, and Malaak Compton Rock, a part of me continues to be in shock, I would love to see Malaak redeem herself in a different setting.

At August 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM , Blogger This Cookn' Mom said...

Oh wow! Maybe she is having some personal issues. Maybe she just isn't compassionate about the subject and just has her name tied to the foundation for good looks. Who knows? I must go to a blog conference next year!!

At August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM , Anonymous Hazelin Williams said...

I would like to believe that she was in the middle of some crisis that caused her to appear so detached. If so,I hope she has resolved it. Sometimes when I hear people in the media speaking about their various charities or causes, I've wondered how committed they actually were. I suspect that some individuals solely attach their names to causes in order to get mileage or publicity because someone advised them that it would make them look good in the public eye. I sincerely hope this is not the case with Malaak Compton Rock, for someone on her level has the capability to do great things to help those children. BTW, I commend you for speaking so honestly about this matter, instead of going along with the charade. Perhaps it will open her eyes.

At August 7, 2012 at 5:13 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks, I appreciate that. I wasn't trying to insult or bash her. I just think it's so important to know that if you don't prepare, you'll lose your audience. So many of us got up before the keynote was over. It's not because we were worried we were going to be late to the next session. It was because we were so turned off (at least that's what some people said). I personally couldn't continue listening. I had to leave.

At August 7, 2012 at 5:15 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

You totally should! You can even bring the girls. I saw people with kids there. Next year it's in Chicago. Don't know if I'll be going. Would love to though.

At August 7, 2012 at 5:39 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

She really didn't seem to care. She also stated during the keynote that she bought children. It seemed a little weird and uncomfortable to hear. The women from Africa I spoke with were so offended. But, one person (American) says it's normal practice to buy and sell children in Africa. I think overall she needs to reevaluate her mission.

At August 8, 2012 at 6:26 PM , Blogger ShellyShell said...

Your blog is the second one I read today that said something about Malaak Compton Rock. I've heard her speak before and she was very passionate about her foundation. I wonder if she was having a bad day or if I just caught her on a good one! LOL!
Nice blog by the way. It's my first time commenting.

At August 8, 2012 at 7:47 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks so much for stopping by. You're the second person to tell me that about Malaak. Maybe she did just have an off day after all. I guess we'll never know.

At August 9, 2012 at 9:12 AM , Anonymous karengreeners said...

It's a testament to how good Soledad O'Brien is that she kept the interview running so smoothly. At our table, the consensus was that Malaak was having a panic attack - she was literally frozen in place and her chest was heaving. We really wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but seriously, she could not have been in front of a more forgiving audience. It was a wasted opportunity for all of us.
I've enjoyed your recaps - love getting everybody else's pov of the conference.

At August 9, 2012 at 4:57 PM , Blogger Quiana said...

I think you definitely covered Malaak's incident with grace! I did a search of some of her other video interviews and while she isn't the best interviewee, her appearance at BlogHer definitely wasn't on par with her other interviews. I definitely would've preferred to hear more about Soledad's charity. That preview video was outstanding!

At August 9, 2012 at 7:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was one of the people that got up and left the room since it was too uncomfortable to witness. I think Malaak was having a major case of stage fright since she was blanking out and not making any sense up there. In my opinion, she should not have agreed to the talk since she basically wasted her time and mine.

She came off as dumb and not at all connected to her cause. Even in the video they showed, she didn't seem to exude warmth toward the kids in her foundation.

At August 10, 2012 at 5:55 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks Quiana! It's good to know that she's had better interviews in the past. Me too! I wanted to hear more about that too. I guess we'll have to watch CNN for that. Did you send me an email? Can't find it.

At August 10, 2012 at 5:58 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

I feel the same way. It's hard to tell if she blanked out while on stage because I spoke with her beforehand and she seemed off then too. I feel that my time was wasted too. OMG, I felt the same way. No warmth, no connection to the the kids or cause.

At August 11, 2012 at 7:58 PM , Anonymous Kitty Bradshaw said...

Sitting in front of 5,000 intelligent women would scare me too!!! lolll

At August 11, 2012 at 8:00 PM , Blogger JJ said...

Hey Lady,

Jeneba Ghatt here. Sorry to not connect with you. I see you were there at the session. I didn't know how to handle it but glad you did so well. Thanks for the recap. I will most def connect with you soon!!! Your blog is great! Bookmarked! What a beautiful kid too! Get it from mama, I see!! :-)

At August 11, 2012 at 8:09 PM , Anonymous Christina Gleason @ WELL, in THIS House said...

I, too, thought that Soledad did an amazing job at redirecting the conversation. I'm one of those who also hopes there was a reason for Malaak dropping the ball other than not being as passionate about her charities as the others. It was really uncomfortable listening to her.

At August 11, 2012 at 10:02 PM , Blogger Flora Moreno de Thompson said...

I was just thinking about Malaak's interview today as I'm reminiscing about BlogHer to write my recap post about it. What surprised me is that no one tweeted about it in the #blogher12 twitter stream (at least no one with the hashtag, anyway). One person alluded to it by sending out a tweet reminding everyone to pay attention to your interviewer's questions so you don't get caught off guard, or something to that effect.

Another person I spoke with afterwards made a great point that if you are passionate and knowledgeable about your cause, then talking about it and answering the simple questions that Soledad asked should have come naturally. Malaak's botched attempts at answering those questions made me really uncomfortable, and I hope she was just having an off day.

Great post!

At August 11, 2012 at 10:33 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Hey Jeneba! Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to our chat. Can't wait to catch up!

At August 11, 2012 at 10:37 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks exactly what I kept thinking. If this is a cause that's near to your heart, then you don't have to think? Take blogging for example. When people ask me about my blog, I have no problem explaining what it's about. It's second nature. I was so uncomfortable too. There were a couple of people who mentioned that they tweeted about it. Maybe they forgot to include the hash tag.

At August 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM , Anonymous Lisa said...

I'm happy to find a few bloggers talking about what happened to Malaak. This is a very interesting take. I am a person who struggles with speaking anxiety and thought at first that might be her issue. It does appear though that she was on something (maybe to deal with the anxiety? Who knows). Thanks for speaking up about it though, I think that our remaining silent about it helps no one. I Blogged about it in my latest post as well.

At August 12, 2012 at 3:09 PM , Anonymous Kim said...

I really appreciate your honesty about what happened with Malaak. It was disturbing to watch, but what was even more disturbing was the weird BlogHer code of silence about it! I didn't see a single tweet about it, and BlogHer's live recap notes have essentially erased what she said. Kind of bizarre that a room full of a thousand people tweeting about everything didn't tweet about that?? I feel bad for her if she was ill or experiencing stage fright, but as a public figure, I think she owes her audience some kind of acknowledgement or explanation.

At August 13, 2012 at 12:29 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks Lisa! I'll be sure to check it out. I think it's important to bring this to light because we all at some point have or will be faced with a situation like this. I have to fullfil speaking engagements for my job from time to time. As a blogger, you also may be faced with being a part of a panel. It's so important to be engaging. It's also important to know why you're there.

At August 13, 2012 at 12:33 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

I know!!! There was even a time when people were applauding her after she said something that didn't make sense. It was so weird. I remember saying something to the lady next to me. I didn't understand why they were applauding her. I wish Malaak could have said something. I wasn't looking for a dissertation or sob story, just an acknowledgment that something was off (other than that brain fart comment). We all spent time and money to be there. She at least owed us that.

At August 16, 2012 at 9:54 AM , Anonymous Dawn said...

No one at my table or around me spoke about this or even looked mystified, as I was, which I thought was strange. I was live tweeting throughout the session and made a decision at the time not to tweet about that because it just seemed mean-spirited. I tried to tweet things that were witty or informational, and commenting on Malaak's unease and poor communication wouldn't have seemed to offer much. That said, I am glad that you wrote about it in this thoughtful way. As others here have posted, Soledad was brilliant at keeping the conversation moving smoothly and not putting Malaak more on the spot, but that did little to shed light on the mission of Malaak's foundation or interests. I also agree with Kim, who suggests that it would be nice for Mallak,as a public figure on such a prominent stage, to offer an acknowledgment or explanation. I am happy to have come upon your blog!

At August 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks Dawn! I appreciate you stopping by. It made me feel so uncomfortable to site there and listen. I was so turned off that I got up to leave. In retrospect, I wish I could have stayed and met with Soledad and Christy.


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