THE BLOG

Prison Diaries Is Honored by the Webby Awards -- But Who Won?

I'll cop a plea to the charge of weirdness because I'm guilty. I never thought I would admit it because I'm flattered.

At the beginning of the month, Prison Diaries, the first newspaper column written by an inmate that morphed into a blog, was honored by the 20th Annual Webby Awards in the Weird Category. The Weird Category focuses on websites that "reflect a fresh perspective in thought and action strong enough to start a revolution."

Because there are no selfies taken in cells, Prison Diaries can't offer actual glimpses inside a modern prison; I use only stock photos, my mug shots and ID picture. Nor is there anything streaming live on Prison Diaries; every post was handwritten years ago.

My blog is just one little lady's thoughts, the musings of someone who couldn't shave her legs and wouldn't face her own dysfunction inside what is probably the nation's most broken system. Somehow a few people in the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) thought those ideas, those life sentences, were worth recognition.

People who've been to prison are usually begging for some acceptance -- any acknowledgement at all -- that being honored isn't even a consideration. Most of the time we're just praying that someone doesn't kick us out from wherever we are because we spent time in a place so low that you can't even get kicked out of it. Each month you're free -- every year you walk the streets - is, basically, a medal for staying out of prison because so many people who leave custody eventually go back in. Or die.

While society seems to embrace the ex-con as she's represented in the arts, Orange Is the New Black's Uzo Aduba's two Emmy Awards and Taraji P. Henson's Golden Globe for her role as 'Cookie' on Empire don't really count as honors for convicted felons because the actors have records as clear as Lindsay Lohan's calendar.

To give an award, one that can go to anyone, to someone who's been incarcerated shows bravery in the face of backlash. Many people believe that no one who has bumped into the criminal justice system deserves to survive, much less be exalted above others. But the IADAS thinks that you can - -and deserve to - -do something impressive regardless of where you've been.

There have been convicted felons who've scored big -- certainly bigger than being an Honoree at the "Oscars of the internet" -- and won coveted statuettes in the past. Lemon Andersen won a Tony Award in 2012 for Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. James Carter won a Grammy Award in 2002 for his song "Po Lazarus" after it was used in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? Like me, Andersen and Carter never thought they'd be honored. We just do what we can.

Prison Diaries' commendation from the Webby Awards made everyone with a past a winner. The honor means we can be contenders. Still. Yeah, even with that. No, they don't hold it against you.

We can be the revolution.