June 28, 2013

Category: Real Talk

Lies & Highs:When Someone Tries To Defame You


Blogging While Brown is more than an organization for Black bloggers. It’s a verb. A community formed by and within community. It’s an experience. Last weekend that experience came to NYC in the form of the 6th annual Blogging While Brown Conference. I had the privilege and pleasure of speaking at the Business of Blogging portion of the conference last Friday not knowing, by that very same afternoon, I would not only have to defend my words and my rep, but I would learn just how essentially valuable community is to experience.

I spoke in the morning at BWB with Jodie Patterson of Girl Crush fame about monetizing a blog via smart offline synergies and how important it is to be authentic, to have integrity and to be liked and respected by your peers. Our talk went really well. We had such a wonderful, dynamic energy during our presentation and the feedback from the conference attendees was great! I was amped and relieved that it was done and done well. I guess I shouldn’t have gotten too caught up in the afterglow of accomplishment though because that afternoon another speaker who I had interacted with once many years ago took the stage and proceeded to openly disparage my reputation and, in the face of what I had spoken of earlier, to make me out to be a fraud.

Me & Jodie after our BWB presentation

Me & Jodie after our BWB presentation

To make a long story somewhat short, 3 years ago I approached a PR agency (owned by the woman who attempted to defame me) with a pitch for Vogue (where I was a contributing writer) about doing a Q&A with Kerry Washington while she was at the Urbanworld Film Festival promoting her movie “Night Catches Us.” I got the green light. I interviewed Kerry and stressed to this individual that I would need to submit my story and have the photos from the event by 9am the next day. I turned-in my story at 8:45, but still had not received the photos from her agency. I emailed and called them, but nothing. 9am had come and gone. Finally, around 11am I got the photos from their publicist. I knew this was not going to fly with my editor, but still I submitted them. The editor immediately responded that it was too late and they had missed the deadline and so Vogue was going to kill the story. That interview has never seen the light of day. It NEVER appeared on theHotness.com as this publicist claimed. I never tried to manipulate that story or my relationship with Vogue for any self-serving reasons as this woman intimated. You can Google “Kerry Washington” and “theHotness” and you will find that there is no trace of such an interview ever posted. For some unknown reason this “professional,” I guess, felt that fiction would be more provocative than telling the truth.

To say that I was completely taken aback and shook would be an understatement. I was deeply hurt and angry. As a writer, the two things that propel us forward are our clips and our reputation and this woman, in my presence, tried to sabotage half of that. In that moment, I wanted to physically rectify the matter. I raised my hand and then I leapt to my feet. I had more than a few choice words for this storyteller and I needed the moderator to call on me right away! The man next to me stood up and tapped my shoulder. “You’re hands are shaking,” he whispered in my ear.

I looked down. He was right.

“You were brilliant this morning. Don’t let her take that away from you. Sit down and gather yourself first. She’s already losing,” my new comrade of Prune Juice Media further assured. Without hesitation I sat down because I knew he was right. Scenes of Evelyn Lozado standing on a table, wine glass in hand were fancifully dancing in my head, and I knew I was about to lose my shit. By the time the session ended, another 40 minutes had passed and I was able to compose myself. I confronted this individual and asked her why she felt the need to publicly disparage my blog and tell lies about me. At the end of a very brief, but very tense convo, she said she thought she saw the interview on my website and that she was told her rep submitted the photos on time (I have since emailed her with proof proving the very opposite). She was basically like “my bad” and she apologized. Said she would tweet a public apology, blah, blah, but the damage had already been done. So what do you do when someone tries to recklessly take you down? I relied on three things and came out a winner:

1. Stay Calm: My godmother always tells me to start at a simmer and work your way up to full-boil anger. Hands-down, this is some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten because when I get mad I’m immediately enraged—cursing, throwing stuff and ready to fight. My spiritual ma always asks me, “So when it escalates Nicole, where do you go from there? You’ve left yourself no room to emotionally expand.” By the time I spoke to the publicist I was focused and, best of all, I was in total control of how our talk was going to unfold. #powermoves.

2. Confront with Class: Instead of name-calling, I asked my defamer a number of questions about motive, proof and reasoning, which gave me agency and made her feel uncomfortable. I made eye contact and was succinct like a mug. I walked away from that convo with a smile on my face. She did not. By the time I left the conference I had collected at least 50 business cards of people who wanted to connect with me because they thought I was just so class-say.

3. Don’t Hide: There was an opening party the evening of my “disparagement.” I didn’t really feel like hanging out and making small talk. Even though I was wronged, I felt embarrassed. But I was advised to pick up my lip and go on out there and shake a tail feather. I wasn’t at the cocktail reception for 5 minutes before a young woman approached me wondering if she could ask me something personal. She wanted to know how I felt sitting there while this woman dogged my blog and my work ethic. By the time I answered her question, 5 more people had joined our convo. They admitted that they were all mortified by the lack of professionalism and consideration of the PR rep. They commended me on my grace and, as a result, I was asked by the conference organizer to address all of the attendees with my side of the story that very next morning. It was an incredible moment of growth and redemption. You can’t save face if you don’t show up!

Lastly, Black folks in social media and tech are breaking new ground and I just need to stress that we do not have to do so by bringing someone else down. I know there are still so very few outlets for us as black writers and professionals to express the full-bodied beauty of who we truly are and so we tend to turn in on each other as we scramble for leverage and space, but trust, there is more than enough room for us all to be great.

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22 Responses to “Lies & Highs:When Someone Tries To Defame YouComment RSS feed

  • Mariama
    June 28th, 2013 7:45 pm

    i was sitting at the table adjacent to yours when those comments were made and i really felt for you, nicole. i’m glad fate (and the clock) intervened, and allowed you to have a mature, clear conversation with the publicist later. i thought you were the bee’s knees after your presentation, and seeing how you handled the later challenge solidified my initial impression of you and your work. keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Dee
    June 28th, 2013 8:08 pm

    So sorry you had to experience this. Black women need to stop being so catty. I wasn’t at the conference, but now I see why I couldn’t chat with you at the Aloft party.

  • Gina
    June 28th, 2013 8:17 pm

    You really are a classy woman, because I was prepared to name names and whatnot. Again, so sorry that happened to you. In all my years of conference planning I never imagined that in the speaker orientation I’d have to remind people not to attack Black bloggers (or anyone for that matter) at a BLACK blogging conference.

    What was remarkable and I think speaks to the bond of the people in that room is not a single person ( that I’m aware of) tweeted the details.

    I learned a lot from this experience.

  • Tanefa Wallace
    June 28th, 2013 10:09 pm


    I am so glad you kept your cool in the face of such disparagement. It’s a hard thing to do but it was what kept your evening and whole conference a success.

    We are grown now and the tests are going to get harder, you just passed this one with flying colors and are already reaping the benefits!


  • Kellyn
    June 28th, 2013 11:08 pm

    Proud of you Sis! ROCK steady.


  • Inspired
    June 29th, 2013 12:05 am

    I was there and I felt that you handled the whole situation with class. I felt for you. The fact that you did not publish the interview on your blog speaks volumes about your character…

  • Emir
    June 29th, 2013 7:15 am

    So impressed that you managed to stay “class-say” in the face of scandalosity (you see what I did there with the clever KW link 🙂 but if you ever need a social media assassin to take this PR woman down just hollah cause I keep it straight “ash-aay” when people attack my folks.

  • Bilqis
    June 29th, 2013 7:29 am

    I continue to be so proud of you Nicole. I’m so sorry you had to experience that but as with all unpleasant occurrences there is an opportunity to strengthen your character in choosing how you handle it. Glad my Aries Goddes of war chose to stand down yet stand strong. Rock on Hottness Women! I just couldn’t attach girl to the grown ass woman class and intelligence you displayed in your response.

  • BJ
    June 29th, 2013 8:19 am

    As always proud of you Nicole. I am learning from your journey.

  • Cherie
    June 29th, 2013 12:15 pm

    Good for you! You not only handled it with class for yourself but it was a teaching moment for the publicist and your peers. Way to set the tone. Also liked the spiritual tips regarding anger.

  • theHotness
    June 29th, 2013 4:36 pm
    Author's Reply

    Thank you so much all of you for your dope words of support. My first mind is to be street (loud, nasty and confrontational) and so reading these comments invigorate me to keep on keeping on and to do so with class, grace and dignity.

  • Marie Denee
    June 29th, 2013 8:37 pm

    Newbie to your blog as this post drew me in and I MUST commend you on this. MY LORD… MY NERVES would have gotten the best of me…

    Sooo happy to hear how you availed and arose through this shameful and unnecessary debacle.

    Sending you mountains of love and light… from a new follower…

  • Mimi
    June 30th, 2013 1:49 pm

    Fantastic post. You handled it well. Great that you took the high road. I had an encounter with a reality show last year that created a “character” for me that wasn’t true. I put together my response for when it aired and braced myself… watched the show… and nothing. I was locked and loaded… but then… No one cared. No one called. No one said anything at all. Silence can be the absolute best answer to negativity sometimes.

  • shermanjones
    June 30th, 2013 3:19 pm

    it is unfortunate that “the blacks” feel the need to, 1) and 2), but I suppose it is the respectable thing to do, whatever that means, of course. when some markass sucker mc is playing you on any stage, why is that the so-called minorities need to “take the high road”, or “show class”? crack, err, I mean white folks don’t. magnanimousness is only the purview of “the blacks”…… pathetic

    • theHotness
      July 4th, 2013 6:53 am
      Author's Reply

      Why do “minorities” feel the need to always take the high road? Huh? You clearly are not living on planet earth b/c that statement couldn’t be more ill-informed. If you ever watch the news, you would know that black folk killing other black folk is at an all time high. 23 people shot in Chicago just this weekend b/c know one wanted to keep it classy or take the high road. I won’t even get into the number of fights between black women that’s aired weekly on television. I take it from your pointed use of term “the blacks’ that you are from the Donald Trump school of intelligence so it all makes sense now. At the end of the day we have to pick our battles and that’s not a black or white thing, it’s an adult thing. Have a wonderful day and thanks for the comment and the love.

      • shermanjones
        July 5th, 2013 5:46 pm

        who are you writing to?

  • Lashuntrice
    July 1st, 2013 1:56 pm

    It’s great that you told your side. I was definitely shocked that the PR rep did that. You’re very brave and I’m inspired by your story.

  • shermanjones
    July 3rd, 2013 5:26 pm

    why don’t I get a response Hotness? you can communicate to other folk (from Williams), but you have no respect for me to address my points? you take care sweetie, and you are looking good………

  • joyful1
    July 4th, 2013 1:09 pm

    Wow!! You handled that situation brilliantly. People are always more apt to listen to others when they are calm & reasonable. I have been in that same situation where my superior tried to defame my character & work ethic. It backfired. I did not have to say a word because my co workers & hard work vouched for me. But my initial reaction was identical to yours. I wanted to flip desks, chairs and clown in the worst way. God bless the friend that took me aside to tell me to breathe & remain calm. The best advice ever!

  • Deborah Davis
    July 5th, 2013 9:38 pm

    You go girl! I really should say, “Lady”, because you handled a nasty, embarrasing situation like a very smart, classy professonal!
    I am so proud of the way you managed that unfortunate situation. You did not channel ‘Evelyn’ from “Basketball Wives” or ‘Nene’ from “The Real Housewives” –though, I imagine it was tempting!
    In the end, you were the bigger person. Your class, wisdom, and grace under fire won out! It is never wise to lower ourselves to someone else’s level.
    Your summation was right on target and will stay in my mind as a constant reminder:
    -Stay calm
    -Confront with Class
    -Don’t Hide
    I could have used your advice back in high school. (smile) Stay strong and thanks for putting this out there!

  • Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama
    July 7th, 2013 2:49 pm

    Hey 🙂 I was in the room as well, and I felt so terrible about the situation. I wanted more than ever to you a hug because you didn’t deserve that. You handled yourself in the exact opposite manner that people expected and you have all my respect!

  • MsAfropolitan
    July 9th, 2013 1:10 pm

    I found this story v. inspiring, well done! It’s no point trying to argue against lies in a heated moment but it was generous of the organisers to offer you the opportunity to correct the defamy at a later stage.

    I reckon that as bloggers we get used to being in the public domain and tackling “untruths”, it’s good preparation for incidents such as this.