Thursday, December 01, 2005


This post is in reference to "Help Make Thursday, December 1st 'Blog Against Racism Day'" which Leah posted at Corrente Wire.

So we're all supposed to write about race today. Everyone in the community.

It's a web project and here I thought I was done with homework a long time ago.

I told C.I. that I would be happy to write about it but that I might not have anything anyone wanted to hear. C.I. said, "Even better. Be true to you."

Is this the day where the web purges the guilt for being white-white-white every other day of the year?

Will we see "fab post! hat tip to . . ." nonsense all over the net?

Rebecca wrote something brave. In it she talked about the ways Whites can aid racists.

It was brave, it was Rebecca.

But maybe some White person will write a "moving post" about Rosa Parks and it will gather steam all over the net and we'll once again here how wonderful the net is and how brave.

I don't expect much from it.

I'd love to be wrong but we can't talk about racism online.

We're not supposed to.

We're supposed to look the other way.

Certainly if the net was racist, people of color would be shut out.

Oh wait, we are.

There's a token voice they include on their blog rolls and we're all supposed to be happy about that.

"One of us made it!"

Today is apparently Black day.

Women get ready because you're day will be coming soon.

People of color and women get a day or two each year.

Otherwise it's white-white-white male-male-male.

So today a lot of people will get to feel good about themselves and sleep easy knowing that they did "their part."

Or maybe they'll kid themselves that because they blogged on TD Jakes/TD Jokes they're down with the peeps.

You have to be pretty white to think TD Jokes speaks to African-American liberals.

But hey, you looked in the paper, you saw a Black man and thought, "I'll write about this!"

Didn't matter that he's got nothing to say to the left. Doesn't matter what he preaches because us Blacks just love our preachers, right?

The net's racist as hell and that's what we're not supposed to talk about.

Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq? links to Betty and links to me. He could play it safe and avoid that. I'll give him praise for linking to us. I don't know that I see a lot of other people offering support to emerging voices of color.

I don't see a lot of people offering any support to any emerging voices regardless of color or gender.

I see a lot of gas bags. If they'd had the internet 40 years ago, I bet Cokie Roberts would be blogging. She'd probably be starting some pac or some circle to promote other people like herself (white) and probably not many women on that list because she wants to be the token.

She's probably offer "sage" advice like "Don't use Blogspot!"

And she'd work talking points from the Democratic Party into every entry because she'd really, really want to be a player.

That's pretty much what the net is today.

Instead of a day of everyone "reflecting" on race and racism, how about a day where everyone found a voice that they'd never highlighted before and provided a link?

Especially to people of color?

Because the reality of racism is that it takes root in ignorance.

You don't know me, I don't know you. Easiest thing in the world to do is to reduce an issue to our skin colors.

When we get to know each other, we can see beyond stereotypes and we can start to relate as people.

This African-American man doesn't need a web day of essays on race and racism. Most people won't have the bravery to do what Rebecca did which was to be honest. Most people won't have the brains to do what Mike did which is bring on a person of another color, Betty, and actually have a conversation while they write. (That's not meant as an insult to Wally. His site is "jots." If you asked him if he wrote about race today he'd tell you he "jotted." A lot of other people will kid themselves. Kat's thinking up something, trying to, about music. I thought she had some good ideas when we were discussing what we were going to blog on. But I told her, "Kat, if it doesn't come, don't worry about it. You link to women, you linke to people of color, you link to straight and gay. You don't need a day to talk about inclusion because you practice it.")

I don't really see this as anything for African-Americans. I see it as a way for Whites not to feel guilty.

Not all Whites.

But it reminds me of Black History Month. I didn't see that get much attention elsewhere. C.I. spot lighted it each day at The Common Ills and whenever Gina and Krista interview an African-American for their round-robin, they always point that out. It's a plate set at the table. It says, "You are welcome here."

I don't know that one day of essays around the net says much of anything.

I'm not ragging on Leah. I think it's great that she and the guy (I think his name is Chris) wanted to get something started. But my problem is these things tend to be a once a year thing.
And then six months from now, you end up with a Blogger pointing back to it and saying, "See, I'm not racist."

My guess is Leah wouldn't do that. She's a woman. She knows the score which is that she has to write something ten times better than any man (White) just to get a little attention for it.

Tomorrow, some (White) man could blog on a new found bullet that hit JFK and Leah could post the true events of what happened. Leah wouldn't be spotlighted all over the net. Air America wouldn't have her on as a guest.

So when she blogs, it's because something has happened that she wants to comment on. (I'd assume it's the same with all the bloggers at Corrente Wire, but I only know her work and Lambert's.) So I believe she really believes in this and I don't mean to piss all over it.

But for everyone who means it, there are a lot more who don't.

And to me, that's part of the problem.

Someone writing their truth will get the same pat on the back as someone phoning in it just to say, "See, I care about racial issues."

I hope I'm wrong. I hope the excercise starts a really in depth conversation.

In the meantime, the reality is that there is a ceiling and that if you're not in the club, don't look to crack it.

C.I. did a great post yesterday, "Target: the 9th Circuit (The Republican war on the judiciary continues)" and where did you see it? You saw it on BuzzFlash, you saw it at the community sites and that was really it.

That's what I mean when I say Leah has to write something 10 times better than a (White) man just to get any attention for it. I don't know how Leah does it. I don't know how C.I. does it. Unless it's that they've accepted that they're not going to be the most linked on the net.

I assume Leah's built up a following the way C.I. has. Hopefully they are as fiercely loyal as C.I.'s is. But I know The Common Ills, that's my community. And when I see someone "stumble" upon something and I know that it was noted by C.I. days before or that C.I.'s words (usually a joke) are being reassembled and passed off as some blogger's at his site, I know that the net isn't going to be the brave new world Joe Trippie and others claim.

The gatekeepers are already in place. The new Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldsons. "Cokie Roberts" singular. Apparently that's Wonkette. She's the leading token.

Chris' idea could be huge. If it was, how much you want to bet Leah would be written out of it?
Credit would be given to some male blogger that we've all heard too much about.

I hate to be so negative. I wish I could just tell you about how I first learned of Rosa Parks and act like "It's all good." But that's not reality.

But to end on a positive note, Wally and Mike have pointed out the obvious, C.I. broke through. Not with the gatekeepers (and not with help from them).

So hopefully it's changing. But the change is coming from outside the tight circle and in spite of the tight circle.

The reason C.I.'s turning down interviews is because The Common Ills found an audience. It can happen. But it doesn't happen with help from the gatekeepers, it happens in spite of them.

Hopefully, out there right now there's a blogger of color. I've never heard of him or her because, being of color, they won't get any attention. But hopefully, they are a voice that will break through. If they do, they'll do it the way C.I. did by peer to peer sharing. The way The Common Ills has taken off at colleges (and at the nursing home of Three Cool Old Guys).

To me racism is about closed minds and I just don't see a closed net being able to talk honestly about it. But I wish Leah (and Chris) luck.

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