Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Blogger Selection issues include accusations of political favoritism while the minority exclusion discussion is going strong

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blogger Selection issues include accusations of political favoritism while the minority exclusion discussion is going strong

It seems that there are more issues than the diversity question surrounding the blogger selection. There is a letter for Howard Dean signed by 21 folks on the State Blogger List requesting that he make a detailed review the selection process.

The story that some POC blogs have a accused the DNC of minority exclusion in the State Blogger Selection process I initially wrote about here is moving up as well.

Pam made another post on this issue...a good one. She brings up one of the points I made:
Absent answers -- and the announcement of the blogs selected for the general pool, the conversation has evolved into a fine example of how difficult and frustrating a dialogue involving race can be, and communication styles that make defense shields go up, it's like watching the Titanic heading for the iceberg and can't be turned around. For instance, Linda finally brought up what I feel was the crux of the problem:
While it's obvious that the tone used by certain members of the AfroSpear has rubbed me the wrong way, I can see the benefit of raising this issue in the first place.
My response was that I agreed it was an issue. Black bloggers who, we must assume, can afford a laptop and travel expenses to Denver (or raise those funds) cannot be classified the same as blacks who couldn't eat at a lunch counter back in the day. When people go around tossing out "Jim Crow" so liberally, it automatically places everyone in defensive positions, regardless of the merits of the complaint/observation at hand. It can also diminish the reality that was Jim Crow.

That's just my opinion, of course. I know if I took that approach here at the Blend, I'd have few readers willing to engage me on the difficult topic of race relations -- it's tough enough as it is because people are so self-conscious of the third rail and the comments are lighter in those threads. Those who go for the flamethrowing "Jim Crow" approach may not, however, have any interest in dialogue, or are so frustrated with hitting the wall of white privilege (and the denial of it), that they don't care how it comes across as long as the point is made, the issue is raised and action taken. It illustrates a frustration based in reality out there and a communication gap between parts of the blogosphere communities that has been difficult to bridge.
It also seems that there are some other blogs weighing in on the issue. Some may be more selectively picking blogs to link on this issue than others.

Francis also made another post in response to one of my comments on the AAPP blog:
I think we all know how this works: When those who developed the criteria for blogs participating at Denver developed this particular set of criteria for "state blogs", they had a clear idea of which blogs they wanted and they wrote the criteria accordingly, both to include some and EXCLUDE others.

If they had wanted diversity among the state blogs (as we have in the Democratic Party), they would have included multiple blogs from each state and these blogs would have been selected based on their ability to reach necessary constituencies in each state. Instead, their definition of "best blog" is divorced from and oblivious to the question of the whether these individual blogs have any traction among ALL of each states' target constituencies. The simple fact that there is only one state blog per state proves that they DO NOT have traction among all of each state's target sine qua non constituencies.

If they had analyzed their needs this way, it would have been obvious that each state needs to have at least one white blog, a Black blog, a Latino blog, a woman's blog and a gay blog. But, you won't find that diversity to any significant degree on the DailyKos/MyDD bloglist and you also won't find that diversity among the state blogs.

The entire "state blog" formula just validates the DailyKos/MyDD belief that something OTHER than diversity is most important when reaching out to Democratic Party constituencies.

What about the Asian blogs? The Jewish blogs? The Muslim blogs? As someone who does event planning for a living, the idea that the DNC would be able to handle that kind of logistical nightmare is not reasonable. I believe that the long-term solution for all of this doesn't really fall on the DNC...it falls on the blogosphere, including the minority bloggers themselves.

Francis did not respond to my latest comment on AAPP, where I sum that up:

After a couple of days, I revisited all of the posts from everyone on the issue...I admit that the tone of my posts was in reaction to what I perceive as a strong, accusative tone here and on Francis blog (as well as his comments). I needed to step back and look at the whole issue.

I still believe that the DNC did not intentionally exclude POC blogs from the State Blogger Corps. Is it a distinct possibility that they were somewhat callous in taking ethnicity in consideration? I can believe that. Are there also complex issues regarding internet anonymity, etc...involved that the DNC cannot control...ones that bloggers as a whole need to deal with ourselves? Absolutely!

I have been on the lookout for awhile for an Alaska Native Woman blogger as a contributor to my blog. Native issues are probably the most desperately urgent in my state, as Native Women make up about 7% of the population yet make up 45% - 55% of the victims of sexual and domestic violence. So far, I have been unable to find anyone and through this discussion on other blogs, it seems that many others in the blogosphere have the same problem finding POC bloggers. I believe we should work even harder to make it happen and I hope my new-found exposure does that.

I also believe that those of us selected for the State Blogger Corps can use this opportunity to recruit more POC writers as contributors, encourage them to start their own blogs...or something that can have a more immediate impact...encourage already-established blogs to shift their focus and get more directly involved in state and local politics.

Barack Obama saw that the 50-state-strategy was the right way to go and he has proven its success. POC bloggers need to adopt that strategy as well. While the first attempt by the DNC to have a State Blogger Corps may have been clumsy and in need of revision, I believe their overall goal was to do just that. If 100 nationally-focused POC blogs suddenly shifted to state and local politics, what a huge impact that could have on our upcoming Congressional elections!

While I still may not agree with the accusatory tone of the posts, I believe the dialogue that they started is an important one. I hope that it continues here as well as throughout the blogosphere.
I want to point something out here...it was this white chick who was the one that discovered the posts over at AAPP and Francis' blogs in the first place because I was SPECIFICALLY looking at POC blogs who had linked the DNCC State Blogger list. Since I wanted clarification, this white chick was the one who emailed someone I greatly respect, Pam Spaulding, to get her take on it. As a result, she made some very balanced, thoughtful posts on two of the largest blogs in the country. That plus my placement at the top of the DNC State Blogger list are a big reason why this issue is getting so much attention (everyone is checking out my blog first, for better or worse).

I'm not looking for credit. I'm not saying this because AAPP and Francis don't have their own, extensive audiences...they do. I'm DEFINITELY not saying it because I don't think they have an underlying point...I've been very clear that I believe they do. What I'm saying is that this attention started because I WAS MAKING AN EFFORT TO VISIT THE BLACK BLOG COMMUNITY...which several folks in the AAPP claim never happens!

I was initially offended as I felt I was being painted with the "white male, white supremacist" brush just by being on the list. I was able to calm down, strip away the anger and actually let the issue sink in a bit because, frankly, my daughter makes me "not your average white chick". I was more motivated to wade through the rhetoric.

Many, many folks who would be potential allies ARE NOT that motivated or that patient.

Hell...I'm a 46-year-old menopausal woman...I'm not saying don't offend anyone. Why have a blog if you can't blow off some steam? What I AM saying is if you want folks to really listen, try not to OFFEND EVERYONE!

I also talked to the same reporter at the Dallas Morning News that Francis did. She explained that she saw the story because she came to Blue Oasis blog and saw this issue. Here's my part in her story.

Pam Spaulding, an African-American blogger in North Carolina who has applied to the general pool, suggested on her blog — Pam’s House Blend — that minorities don’t blog about state and local politics as much as white people do, narrowing the pool.

A Hispanic blogger from New Mexico agreed and wrote that their blog was passed over in favor of a blog run by a white woman, but didn’t see any discrimination in a majority Hispanic state.

“I do think we should be looking at the quality of blogs,” said the blogger, who only identified his or her ethnicity. “Do we want to include certain blogs of poor quality to fill a sort of quota? No, that would be ridiculous.”

Linda Kellen Biegel, whose Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis blog will represent Alaska at the convention, said the issue should encourage more minorities to blog locally while pushing for more diversity in the entire blogosphere.

“No one knows what anyone looks like in the blogosphere. It’s easy to get caught up in anger, to ignore the actual underlying issue,” she said. “The underlying issue is that bloggers need to reach out and try to find other voices from the community that are diverse.”

I don't believe there is any way to change the State Blogger process for this year. At this point, the best the DNC can do is acknowledge their selection criteria was clumsy and make sure there are extensive and diverse POC voices in the General Blogger Pool.

However, it's also not realistic to assume that ALL blogs should have an equal chance at a State Blogger spot in the future if they don't focus on state issues or even identify what state they are from.

1) State blogs and multi-contributor blogs need to reach out to POC writers and build a group of diverse voices from all constituencies.

2) POC blogs need to focus on state and local issues more if they want to be considered a voice for their state. It doesn't mean any blog would have to totally give up a minority focus. A local voice is much more powerful than a national one when it comes to any issue, including issues of color. National voices tend to be faceless and ignored.

Barack Obama used the 50-state strategy and he will be our nominee. Hillary Clinton discounted it in favor of old alliances and she will not.

I think there is a lesson there.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Yobachi said...

If people want to understand Afrosphere blogs true position, they may want to read this post about it

A number of important points:

We are not asking for anyones credentials to be revoked and given to anyone else.

The primary issue that needs to be understood here about the Black Bloggers position is that the State Corps bloggers get a special privilege that other blogs in the general pool will not receive; they get access to the convention floor.

How can the DNC, whether by intent or by unintentional practice; have a policy that excludes Black Blogs and other POC blogs from the convention floor, and makes it almost exclusive to white operated blogs, and say that that is not a problem?

Offers for a resolution have been extended; which again don't include taking away credentials from any bloggers who have already been awarded them.

We await the DNC’s and DNCC’s response.

This is a matter of equity, and this is a matter of a policy that is of the DNCC's making, that it has every power to easily correct. There is no burden being put upon them. It's simply a choice. Will a representative amount of Black blogs be given a privilege that a bunch of white operated blogs are getting, or will the Black bloggospher be discriminated against. Again, whether by intention or by unintentional effect, it doesn't make it okay.

5/21/2008 5:20 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

I do understand your underlying issue and the more I've read about it, thought about it and written about it, the more I realize that...and this is no offense intended...to some degree you are bullshitting yourself.

First off, when I heard about the State Blogger Corps, I was determined to be a part of it. Here were the steps I took to try and achieve that:

1) I did everything I could to try and increase my audience

2) I focused more on state politics. It wasn't something that didn't already come naturally, I just increased the number of posts on state issues and decreased the number on national issues.

3) I contacted folks from the DNC, asked questions and made connections.

If I had not done those things, no matter what my color, I would not have been selected...period.

I know you don't have any intention of trying to "replace" some of the state bloggers. I also understand your underlying complaint. However, what offends me is that I put a lot of work in to meet the criteria of a state blog...but it was also work that anyone of any color could do. The folks who think that "blogging while brown" should entitle them to be a state blog...even though some have rarely if ever written about state politics or have barely even discussed what state they live in...is also a slap in the face to the folks who have dedicated their blogs to their state.

And the other thing that irritates me is the Afrospear seems to be the sole issue. What about the Native American bloggers or the Asian bloggers or the Latino bloggers or the Gay bloggers? Or do you feel that the Afrospear should get the props because you made the most noise?

In many ways, this isn't an issue of color. In many ways, this is an issue of wanting something bad enough that you are willing to make changes to get it. I get the feeling that there were some Afrospear bloggers who specifically applied, even though they knew their blogs in no way met the criteria and they were unwilling to do anything to meet that criteria, just so they could make a huge stink when they weren't selected.

Yeah, I've come full circle now and this whole thing is starting to make me bitchy again.

5/21/2008 11:55 PM  
Blogger Yobachi said...

Oh I get it; Black folks don't work hard enough to deserve equity and to be represented on the floor of a party for which we are the most loyal constituency.

Okay, old excuse, new day, not exceptable.

And no, you don't understand our position:

We (not myself anyway) are asking to be in the state corps. And I am not asking for my blog inspecific, nor that my membership group (the Afrospear) in specific be credentialed for the floor.

What we are doing is refusing to be discriminated against, and accept a "Whites Only" sign over the bloggers entrance to the floor of the convention.

Their is no law of nature that says only State Corp blogs can have access to a political party's convention floor. This is the doing of a few people who made a decision. We (the Black Bloggosphere and our constituents) can also, likewise, make decisions.

5/23/2008 5:58 AM  
Blogger Francis L. Holland Blog said...

"Celtic Diva", there is so much I find wanting in your perspective that I hardly know where to start.

First of all, as soon as it was decided that Technorati ratings would be used to select blogs, it because obvious that states in which Blacks were 10% of the population would not be sending a Black blog to the state blog corps under these rules. It is virtually impossible for a blogs that serve minority populations to create and audience that exceeds the audience of the states' largest white state blog.

In addition it would have been entirely possible to reward whites for state blogging with floor credentials while rewarding Blacks for providing 20% of the votes in the Democratic Party and voting for Democratic Party candidates 90% of the time by also granting us some floor passes.

As usual, the white majority sets the criteria, makes the value judgments, and conveniently "forgets" that these criteria and value judgments will completely exclude Blacks from participation.

Do you think there is ANYTHING that white bloggers do that influences the outcome of elections more than the fact that Black voters vote for the Democratic Party 90% of the time?

It amazes me that while more than half of whites will vote for John McCain, and 90% of Blacks will vote for the Democratic nominee, you still believe that we don't deserve even one blog on the floor of the conference!

It is my belief that white bloggers knew exactly what they were doing when they wrote these rules and criteria. They limited the blogs to one per state, knowing that the selected blog would be a white blog in virtually all cases, even when Black blogs have focused on state issues. Comparisons of white and POC blogs have shown that some white blogs that hardly focus on state issues have been given preference over POC blogs that do.

I can't believe that you ask whether Jews shouldn't have a place on the floor. I challenge you to look at the blogs participating and see if Jewish persons are not already participating. You clearly didn't think about that question before posing it.

Black voter registration and turnout has increased more than whites has in recent elections. Your fifty-state strategy means nothing unless Blacks go out and vote for Democratic candidates on election day. So, what you have is a fifty state strategy to get Blacks to vote and an all-white policy for admission to the conference floor.

Our admission would not prevent you from attending the conference, but you nonetheless offer reasons why you don't believe Black bloggers are worthy, while you are. Ironically, many of us have blogs with more comments in a day than you have in a month, and we use our blogs to encourage voter registration and turnout.

Nonetheless, instead of perceiving that different bloggers can be just as worthy or more so while serving diverse functions, whites instead have declared that only what they do leads to electoral victories. You are so arrogant that sometimes it literally makes me sick.

While 90% of us will vote for the Democratic Party right down the ticket, your neighbors, parents, sons and daughters, classmates and teachers are deciding whether to vote for the Democrat or vote for John McCain. And you think WE are unworthy of participation?

Many of the symptoms of color-aroused ideation are similar to those of alcoholism, including rationalization and denial.

I disagree with those who say that "Jim Crow" is too strong a word for the process developed for selection of floor bloggers. Just as Jim Crow as an institutionalized system whose goal as to maintain privileges for whites while denying them to Blacks, this state floor blog does the exact same thing. If allowed to stand, the Democratic Party floor blog corps will be just as segregated as the lunch counters of the Deep South during the era of George Wallace and Bull Connor.

When you rationalize that, in any way shape or form, you lose your own humanity while trying to deny the humanity of others.

Certainly, you have written about this problem. But it has been mostly in defense of a system of rank segregation and white privilege.

5/23/2008 8:10 AM  
Blogger Francis L. Holland Blog said...

While whites pseudo-progressives criticize Blacks for not writing enough about Iraq, the DNC would exclude us from the Convention floor because our blogging is not sufficiently parochial.

5/23/2008 8:16 AM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Wow…when I saw the title of your post and the response to my comment, I knew I’d be taken out of context but that’s pretty balsy to just use one line.

First off, I did not in any way, shape or form say anything close to “lazy black bloggers.” You know I didn’t say it or you would have quoted me.

Secondly, you need to read everything that I posted on my blog and have responded to on AAPP and on Pam’s House Blend about this issue. Then compare it to everything Mr. Francis Holland has said on his blogs or on others. There is a history here for my comment that you have ignored.

The comment was also written BEFORE I read the post with your letter to the DNC which outlined the specific suggestions you were making. I found those to be more reasonable than what had been proposed previously. Since your post, I haven’t been blogging about this because of that.

One thing that I should have clarified…when I said “some folks” or “certain members of the AfroSpear,” I just should have said “Francis Holland.” From this point on, make that mental correction to any of the comments related to “certain AfroSpear blogs”. He’s the one I was thinking of when I wrote it.

Finally, I was aware that my post was bitchy…I mentioned that it was bitchy. I’m 46, I’m menopausal and I don’t really care too much who I piss off anymore especially when I’m commenting on my own blog.

I’m the proud mom of a straight-A 10-year-old daughter-of-color who, when I told her some folks were inferring that I’m a “racist” said, “but mom, don’t they know you have me?” I’m also disabled and have been through the lovely EEO process when a boss tried to use my disability to get me fired. (They settled.)

While the rest of the blogs are keeping mum, I’m not because my perspective is a little different and fear of being labeled won't stop me from speaking my mind.

Taking my specific comments and portraying them as a sweeping condemnation of black people is an attempt at demonizing me, therefore stopping any possibility of in-depth discourse. You’re playing the old-school “politics of division” as well as any member of the Clinton campaign or the Republican party…Congratulations!

5/23/2008 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Zimbel said...

I don't think that you and Francis are communicating very well with each other. For example, you keep referring to state blogs, whereas Francis (at least as of late) keeps referring to floor blogs or blogs with floor credentials; there is no intrinsic reason why these two sets need to be congruent.

In any case, if you aren't very familiar with Black history, I'd highly recommend reading "Lies my Teacher Told Me" by James W. Loewen. As for myself, every history course I had in high school or college had at least some of the problems described in said text.

5/24/2008 5:18 AM  
Anonymous Zimbel said...

I'm curious- why aren't you upset that females (who make up the majority of the voters for the Democratic party, and have for decades) aren't proportionately represented in the list of bloggers with floor credentials?

5/24/2008 5:46 AM  
Blogger Yobachi said...

Francis, good job in illuminating the point of automatic exclusion due to the nature of rules.

Zimble, good looking out in understanding that again; the other blogs can be credentialed for the floor whether they're state blogs or not.

And though it's not the focus of my fight, I have mentioned that in my survey of the state corps blogs, I found a wanting lack of female representation. Most females, by far, were only contributors blogs; but the blogs were still male operated. I didn't do a full survey on this point, but when I only saw two that I could identify as female operated.

Celtic Diva, I responded to your same comment here where you posted it at my blog that you will find more illuminating of the underlining issues that go beyond this specific situation.

I am admittedly brash and certainly ready to go to war; but I'd rather talk and come to an understanding; ala Obama suggestion in his Phili race speech for both Blacks and Whites to listen to each others concerns; which is why, as you've now noted, I tried to to make a reasonable proposal to the DNCC that doesn't take away from anyone else.

5/24/2008 8:12 AM  
Blogger Yobachi said...

Also Zimble, though it's not the focus of my fight, I have mentioned that in my survey of the state corps blogs, I found a wanting lack of female representation. Most females, by far, were only contributors to blogs; but the blogs were still male operated. I didn't do a full survey on this point, but when I was reviewing the blogs I only recall seeing two that I could identify as female operated.

There maybe more, as I did not make a point of researching that issue, just took mental note of it in the middle of my review; but there aren't a great many.

5/24/2008 8:14 AM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Could you please post that survey? List the State Blogs and the genders and ethnicities of their "owners."

Seriously, that's all I'm asking. Show me that what you are claiming is accurate - if you actually have done the research, then post it.

5/24/2008 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Zimbel said...

@celticdiva-

Let's take an example of a State Blog where a majority of people in their covered area, and an even higher majority of Democratic voters are Black/African American. Specifically, Washington, D.C.

Now, as Washington D.C.'s populace is majority Black, and the Democratic Party membership in that region are mostly Black, one might expect that there would be a Black owner, or barring a black owner, that somewhere around half or more of the blog's contributors are Black.

In reality, while their top two people are both female (yay for at least some female representation), merely 3 out of 33 of the people listed with images that work on their blog are apparently not white. Apparently, all of the non-whites blog in the "Music" category.

Now, I have no objection to having a minority white blog, particuarly one headed by white females - but where's a blog from the majority population?

Of the 11 blogs I briefly looked at, only one appeared to have a non-white perspective - Democrats Abroad. Only two appear to be headed by females.

5/25/2008 7:57 AM  

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