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