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
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.
Labels: Afrospear, Afrosphere, bloggers, color, Democratic National Convention, exclusion, favoritism, Howard Dean, Pam's House Blend, State blogger Corps