FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
One week and counting, that's until the "Sex and the City" movie hits screens nationwide. The TV show about four chic New York friends and their misadventures in love got millions of people watching and talking. But some people literally did not see themselves on the screen, including many black women. So that's where the funkybrownchick.com comes in. It's a site that critics say accurately portrays what it's really like to be black, sexy and single in the big city. The site won the 2007 Black Weblog Award for Best Humor, and the website creator, blogger and writer Twanna Hines joins us today to talk about the site. How are you doing?
Ms. TAWANNA HINES (Website Creator, funkybrownchick.com): I'm doing fine. How are you?
CHIDEYA: Oh, I'm great. So, when did you create your blog, why, and, you know, what do you get out of it?
Ms. HINES: Yes, sure. I can answer all of those things. I had started that particular blog, funkybrownchick.com in June of 2005. But I've been a writer since I was a child. I wrote for my high school newspaper. I did a lot of other publications, freelance and things like that. I started that blog - I had just moved to New York a few months prior to that, and dating here is a little bit more difficult than dating back home in Chicago, and so I started writing about my dating life, and my adventures and misadventures, and one thing led to another, and here I am talking about it with everybody for News and Notes as well.
CHIDEYA: Does it ever worry you that you talk about yourself? You know there's all these concerns about cyberstalking and personal security. What kinds of limits do you put on what you're willing to say?
Ms. HINES: Definitely, I never share any very specific details about myself. As far as like my name, that's there. What I do throughout my day to day activities, that's there. Two things that are completely off topic, and I will not speak about on my blog or any of my writing, my job, what I do for my day job, as well as my family. It's not their fault that I have a blog, and then I'm writing about my sex life and my dating life and so I leave them out of that.
CHIDEYA: Give me an example of something that you've recently written about.
Ms. HINES: I wrote about going on a date with a high school teacher actually, and it was a question of whether or not it's OK to split the first bill. You go out for dinner, exactly...
CHIDEYA: A classic question for career-minded sistas.
Ms. HINES: I know. Career-minded sisters. We make our own money and stuff like that. However, is it really reasonable to still expect a guy to pay for the first date. Yes or no. And so, we had a little conversation about that in the comments section of my blog, and so that was a lot of fun.
CHIDEYA: What kind of comments do you find yourself getting? I mean, first of all, you know, how do people relate to what you're doing, and do you guys ever get into flame wars or fights about these issues.
Ms. HINES: I get all kinds of comments. Comments from guys telling me, hey, you know my boy lives in New York, and you used to go out with him. And I think, that's great. So I get those, and then I also get unfortunately, some nasty comments, too. And if it's too nasty, I just delete them right from the blog because there's enough of that stuff out there in the world, and I'm not going to bring it home, so do speak, by sticking it on my blog too, and then all kinds of different things. A lot of discussions with people that have specific questions about dating, either in their own hometown or they live here in New York, too. And they just want to basically know that they're normal, like everyone goes through crazy things in the dating world, and so it's a space where people can go and talk about it.
CHIDEYA: Given that the "Sex and the City" movie is coming out, and you had Carrie Bradshaw and her friends living in, with the exception of a few passing characters, in a mainly white New York, which has always been a question, why are there no black people on "Friends" until the last season, you know...
Ms. HINES: Exactly.
CHIDEYA: Why are there no black people on "Sex and the City"? But that said, what is it that you think African-American women and men who come to your site get in terms of a perspective on the urban, cosmopolitan dating scene that they might not get from places that are not targeted to a black audience?
Ms. HINES: Wonderful. I love that question. A couple different things. One, I think that people have a very clear view that there are millions of black people in this country, and there's millions of different ways to be black. I'm one voice among those, and so people who want to come, and just get a view basically of what it's like to be black, and living in New York, and dating and just trying to make my way through the whole like, freelance writing world, and things like that. You get an inside view of it, and so that's really what it's there to provide. I also have, like, a resources section for people who want specifics about what are the dating sites that are out there, what are the podcasts that are out there, where are some of the places I can go to get more information about dating? Just in general as well.
CHIDEYA: What about dating sites? I mean in the past, like a decade ago, there was just, like, one or two or three, and now there's bazillions, sometimes farmed out by one company that creates, you know, the people who do J-Date, do a Christian dating site, and a black dating site, etc., etc., etc. I mean, are these sites still as hot as they used to be?
Ms. HINES: They're still extremely hot. It's a huge industry. There are over 900 different types of dating sites, and the revenue pumped into the economy, and the money that they get from making these sites is about 500 million dollars. So that's a half-a-billion dollar industry, specifically for dating sites. One of the trends that you'll see now is everyone knows, of course, like, Black People Meet, Match.com, and then some of the more saucy ones like Adult Friend Finder. But those sites are starting to, kind of, segment, and get more specific, like if you like fishing or if you want to find other people to go to first Fridays events or something like that, you'll find specific dating sites for that. So you can actually put in whatever your specific interest is, plus dating site, and you can get a very segmented dating site for you.
CHIDEYA: All right. Give me - we just have time for one tip for online dating, something you should do or shouldn't do.
Ms. HINES: One thing you should do is be yourself. Never ever, ever post any picture that's like five years old and 50 pounds lighter or heavier than you are. It's like your picture should reflect who you are, and the way that you write your profile should reflect who you are as a person, as well as the person that you're trying to attract for a date. Things you should not do, never have someone meet you in your home on a first date that you've never met before. Don't give out any specifics. I say, don't tell someone where you work unless you want them to come and visit you there.
Ms. HINES: Don't give them your address unless you want them to come and visit you there as well.
CHIDEYA: All right. Great advice. Thanks, Tawanna.
Ms. HINES: Oh, you're quite welcome.
CHIDEYA: Tawanna Hines blogs at funkybrownchick.com and she joined us from our NPR studios in New York. That's News and Notes. Nicole Childers and Christabelle Nsiah-Buadi produced the show, Sasha Woodruff edits, Devon Robins and Kenye(ph) Young are our directors. Our technical director is Shirene Strausberg. Marica Cauldwell and Sean Corey Campbell are our drive engineers. Our staff includes Tony Cox, Geoffrey Bennett, Ernest Jampel(ph), Roy Hurst, Drew Tewksbury, Geoff Gardiner and Anthea Rayman.
To listen to the show or subscribe to our podcast, vist our website, nprnewsandnotes.org. To join the conversation or sign up for our newsletter, visit our blog at nprnewsandviews.org. News And Notes was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium. On Monday, our Memorial Day show brings stories of courage, forgiveness and loss. We'll explore the lives of African-American servicemen and women.
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