Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Racial dialogue can be a walk in a mine-field...but it's worth it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Racial dialogue can be a walk in a mine-field...but it's worth it.

I have been involved in the discussion regarding the DNCC Blogger Dust-Up from the beginning. I've continued to post comments about the issue on several of the Afrospear blogs. Yesterday, I received an email that made me glad I did:
hi Celtic Diva, just wanted to say that i've been very impressed by your posts on this on Francis L. Holland's blog and Pam's House Blend. the point about whether or not any black blogs applied and were rejected is a very good one. [it doesn't completely get the DNCC off the hook in my case -- they should have realized they'd need to do outreach -- but it does paint a very different picture if it turns out that there weren't any applicants in most of those states.]

I also decided to write about it in my Anchorage Daily News Community Voices Column:
"...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. "

I described the back and forth discussion through posts and comments that ended up with everyone angry and me being called 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 toward 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 toward 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."
They put my email in the tagline because I hoped that writers-of-color would get in touch with me if they were interested in blogging.

I was not to be disappointed:
"Dear Linda,

I was quite interested to read your column “Democratic blogging pool needs to work toward integration.” I expected to hear the same argument about race that has become the reason I tend to avoid most “opinion” about some race argument. The most recent items to make me cringe were the opinions being flaunted after the radio comments from the Fox station. I, quite honestly, expected more defensive posturing and emotion flung back and forth until no one remembered the initial issue at play.

I don’t know if you can imagine how relieved I was to read your column and discover, not only intelligent discussion, but someone who was honestly trying to look at both sides of the issue. After looking over some of your blog posts, I was gratified to find this seems to be how you generally look at things. I did not agree with everything you said, but was inspired to think in a different way about others.

As an Alaska Native woman, I have often found it difficult to find something of my own voice in the community. Your encouragement toward Alaska Native writers has quite literally prompted me into action, and – though woefully behind the times technologically – I signed up for a blog account this morning.

Finding a Native voice in Anchorage , much less Alaska or the nation, is not a very fun affair. I agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but Google “Native health care” or “Alaska Native women” and the commentary is overwhelmingly ignorant, biased, and, many times, hurtful. A Native woman with an opinion is a very high tightrope to walk. Speak too loudly, and you’re just another complaining voice (and probably drunk, to boot). Speak too softly, and nobody hears you.

I come from a background of many problems, just as the rest of the world does. But I am proud to come from a culture that promotes respect and listening to others. Before this country came to know democracy as it is, or women were given the vote, every man in the village of my ancestors had an equal say in council, and women could be chief. I do not say my people are better – only that we have much of value to give to this global community.

Thank you for your opinion, but most of all, for the respect you show people.


Writing Raven"
I quite literally burst into tears when I read her email. As much as I've firmly resolved to continue discussion on racial issues no matter what I get called or how many mistakes I make, I have felt to a certain degree like I've been beating my head against the wall with ALL SIDES in the discussion. Pam's posts and discussions have been a place to breathe but many other places are like going into battle.

Writing Raven made it all worth it.

Here is a link to her brand new blog, Alaska Real. I've offered to meet with her and show her some of the blogging/Blogger basics. In the mean time, Raven is a talented writer who could definitely use some encouragement!



Blogger E. Ross said...

"A Native woman with an opinion is a very high tightrope to walk."

Good for her for starting a blog! There are a lot of us in the blogosphere who have been told that our opinions don't matter, that our lives don't matter. Writing a blog is one way to speak our truth.

And good for you for staying with the conversation and making a difference.

6/06/2008 9:06 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

I'm working at it! Thanks for your support!

6/08/2008 12:09 AM  

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