Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Anchorage Daily News; My Community Voices column for June 5, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Anchorage Daily News; My Community Voices column for June 5, 2008

This year, the Democratic National Committee decided to do something new for the National Convention. They decided to create a “State Blogger Pool” by credentialing one blog to sit with each state delegation on the Convention floor.

Several weeks ago, my blog “Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis” was honored to be chosen as Alaska’s blog in Denver this August.

While all of us who were chosen were euphoric and dealing with the new-found attention, there was trouble brewing among some of the blogs who were not selected. Some of them were blogs who felt they better fit the criteria as a “state blog” and felt that their past criticism of their state or local Democratic Party effected the outcome. (Several had verifiable proof.)

However, there was another accusation that was much more controversial and mostly ignored in the blogosphere…until the mainstream media got the story. Several “blogs-of-color” claimed that all of the blogs in the State Blogger Pool were “white-male blogs“…suggesting that the DNC designed that on purpose. Two of the black bloggers claimed that since the State Blogs had special floor access the DNC did not want “black people on the floor.”

I was one of the state bloggers and not male so I took exception. The discussion became a back-and-forth with one of the black bloggers where I questioned how it was possible to know the ethnicity and gender and of all state bloggers due to “Internet anonymity.” I also commented that there were still a number of blogs to be selected in the General Blogger Pool. It was pointed out to me that the General Pool didn’t have the same floor access that the State Bloggers did. I commented that the blogs raising the issue were also mostly nationally focused. I explained that when I saw state focus was part of the criteria, it motivated me to change my focus more to state issues. I claimed that’s what was needed if they wanted to fit the state blogger criteria. The blogger interpreted that to mean I was saying that blacks were “lazy” and accused me of being racist.

I believe this debate is indicative of many discussions on race. It was interesting how many people were watching our conversation but no one else from the white community was jumping in, unless they were doing their own story on it. I participated in a less emotional discussion on another blog and it was very hard to get people to talk. Folks were also afraid of being labeled as a “racist.”

However, if we don’t take that risk there is no dialogue. Honest discussion means that we will slip up or be misunderstood. We have to keep our cool and force ourselves to see the issue behind the other person’s view even if we are offended by how they make that argument. All participants in a debate on race have to resist the temptation to blame and work together towards true long-term solutions in order to succeed.

Everyone has a part here: The Democratic National Committee needs to more thoroughly think through a solution to inadequate participation by “bloggers of color.” The blogosphere needs to more actively work towards integration and help and encourage minority bloggers. Lawmakers need to aggressively push for greater access to the Internet regardless of economic status. I believe that correcting those areas is the only way to ensure the same thing does not happen at the next Democratic National Convention.

The issue struck home with me when I looked around at my esteemed fellow-bloggers at the Alaska Democratic Convention. While we saw much diversity among the delegates, we bloggers were three white men and a white woman.

I want to be part of the solution and I want to find more writers-of-color to be contributors to “Blue Oasis,”especially Alaska Native writers. Alaska’s diversity needs to be better represented in the blogosphere.

If anyone is interested in being a contributor, please contact me at celticdivaak@yahoo.com


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