Saturday, December 03, 2005

Collaborative working

Like Rebecca, I'm attempting to provide "content" when people feel that there's nothing go up at any of the community sites.

We're all working on the latest The Third Estate Sunday Review. And I'll copy and paste to show who's working:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Wally of The Daily Jot.

The biggest question I'm asked by friends at work, the woman I've started seeing and Three Cool Old Guys is, "What's it like when you all work together on this?"

So I asked for impressions during the first half of a session tonight. We're on a break right now.

Collectively, we have four pieces started. Two of those are completed. Dona says that she feels the crunch on every edition. Jim talked about how it "keeps the creative juices flowing." Ava offered that she and C.I. think they'll do a compare and contrast of two shows, one no longer airing, for their review this week but they haven't started it yet. Mike says it feels like it's moving along pretty good considering the hour. Betty's eager to get started on a planned piece.
Jess points out that the four started will probably result in only one or two that makes it online (all will go in the print edition). Ty's wondering how late this session will go. Kat says she slept in Saturday morning to be sure she had the energy for tonight/this morning. Rebecca points out that not only does C.I. have to do this but as soon as everything's posted, C.I. has to go over and come up with an entry for The Common Ills. Elaine says she's chilling by listening to the Cowboy Junkies. C.I.? "What's the question?"

How do you feel about the latest edition?

"I'm a little tired tonight so it's probably better that I don't note anything but that."

The feature Betty's eager to get started on has to do with Bob Woodward. Jess says that it should make the online edition regardless of how it's rated when it's completed because "the watchdogs are sleeping on this topic."

Another question I got asked a lot this week was why I didn't want my stuff blog spotlighted at The Third Estate Sunday Review?

I just didn't personally feel that I'd done anything worthy of note. C.I. called on Friday to say that I had to let them spotlight "Race." I don't know if it was C.I.'s persuasive powers or the fact that the feedback's been so strong on it, but I've agreed.

There are a number of sites in the community and I just feel like if I'm grabbing a spotlight, I should be doing so for something really worthy of noting. Copying and pasting those things in takes time and they can't highlight every site every week. I prefer that they note Betty just because I know she's worried that people aren't interested since she's gotten some threatening e-mail and since she's only able to do one chapter a week. So she usually has my vote.

It's kind of like instant run off voting some weeks with us picking our favorites and ranking them. That's why C.I. tries not to be spotlighted. C.I. feels like The Common Ills doesn't need the spotlight. (One will be spotlighted this week because Jim's successfully argued for "Target: the 9th Circuit (The Republican war on the judiciary continues).")

I'm not being bashful or modest, I just know that there's a lot of strong posts coming from everyone and I feel like there's other stuff to be highlighted. A lot from The Common Ills because C.I. posts over twenty-eight times a week.

Here's a trick that C.I. pulls that I don't think anyone else has noticed. "Don't spotlight it this week, but if you really think it should be, we can do it next week." C.I. counts, I think, on the fact that no one's remembering by the next week.

When we all get back from break, that's the first thing we'll discuss. What's getting highlighted.
It's an easy way to get back into step.

Is there a lot of back and forth during the writing? Yes, there is. If it's something identified as being a member's pick or a member's statement, it's no problem. But if it's something that we're all going to be responsible for, we do have a back and forth over it.

That's not screaming and yelling. Elaine's good about saying, "I can't live with that sentence. If you take out the clause, I can live with it." But everyone does that and that's the back and the forth as we hammer out an editorial or whatever. So that's how the process works.

Tags never get read at my site but I'll go ahead and swipe some from Kat's site and try again.
This may not have been bold content, but it was new content. Rebecca and Kat also blogged today and C.I. posted several entries. Check out The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow.
Nearly forgot to put in Wally's description of the process. He says it's like running a track marathon and you're always reaching for that one last bit of energy.

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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Book discussion

I want to share this from The Third Estate Sunday Review. "Five Books, Five Minutes" is the feature and I'm going to include a section of it here. I think it's worth discussing and thinking about. Read the whole feature because there's a lot to in there. The people who took part were:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Wally of The Daily Jot.

Here's the excerpt:

Jim: Okay, so we'll move on. We have a book dealing with the media, but I found Cedric's pick to be interesting and I think we can shake things up by selecting it next.

Cedric: I was at the library looking for a book we did last time and saw Time On Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin which is edited by Devon W. Carbado and Donald Weise. I didn't know anything about Rustin which is always something we look for when picking out books, going with something other than what's on the top ten list this week. What I learned was that Rustin was part of the civil rights movement, a big part of it, in fact. "Time on Two Crosses" refers to the fact that Rustin was both African-American and gay.

Betty: And so he's got two crosses to bear at a time when Blacks aren't recognized as equals and when gays and lesbians seem as worthy of less than equal rights.Wally: The book included his debate with Malcolm X.

Rebecca: Right, it's not just a collection of writings, but also includes interviews and in that case, a transcription.

C.I.: I'm staying silent for this discussion due to having eaten up so much time being the "defender of TV" before. But it needs to be noted that the discussion was done for WBAI radio which is a Pacifica Radio station.

Mike: I didn't know that.

Elaine: So let me do the plug C.I. wants to do but is biting the tongue on. If you saw the coverage of Rosa Parks on Democracy Now! or heard it on Pacifica stations, you realize that their archives are very rich. That's due to things like airing this discussion between two leaders that the mainstream media wasn't interested in.

Ava: Because years from now when someone like Medea Benjamin or Arundhati Roy or Tariq Ali or anyone like that passes away, a tribute's going to be hard for the mainstream media to put together. They'll have plenty of clips of Tim Russert speaking to John McCain yet again. But people who are truly leaders, not "powerful" because they were elected, are not covered. You saw that with Rosa Park's passing. Mainstream media working overtime to get some sort of tribute together for a woman that they were largely uninterested in hearing from.

Kat: In fact, Amy Goodman issued a challenge or made an offer during their coverage of Rosa Parks on Democracy Now!

Cedric: Right. I think she noted that they were airing excerpts from a Pacifica interview done in the fifties, shortly after Ms. Parks had sparked a movement, and Amy Goodman noted that you wouldn't see footage like that on TV and offered that if any networks wanted to use it for a tribute, they'd allow them to, this wasn't an open offer this was for that time period, free of charge, but it was doubtful anyone would take them up on it. And to the best of my knowledge, no one did.

C.I.: Jumping in again. Dallas can't find the link. Rebecca, do you know what we're talking about?

Rebecca: I know the interview, but not the offer. Maybe I was running to the kitchen for another cup of coffee that morning?

C.I.: The people who've cited that, and I remember it too, listen to the show. The Rosa Parks coverage occurred during the tail end of Pacifica's pledge drive. Something could have been left out of the transcript but Dallas found the link to the interview and I'm thinking that, if the transcript didn't leave something out, this was actually an offer/challenge Amy Goodman made outside of the Democracy Now! broadcast. I know she mentioned it after Democracy Now! the day after the interview had aired. Kat, Cedric and Ava listen. Rebecca watches Democracy Now! on TV. I think, and I could be wrong, you had to be listening to Pacifica during that [pledge drive] to have heard it. She may have made it during Democracy Now!'s airing but if so, it was in what would be the musical breaks between segments if you weren't listening via a Pacifica station.

Cedric: One thing that puzzled me was why the host of the discussion between Malcolm X and Rustin wasn't identified except as "HOST"? I'm also wondering who you found yourself siding with in the discussion?

Jess: For me, it was Malcolm. I know his writing and his story, so I may have been filling in details that I wasn't able to with Rustin but I got the impression that Rustin grew more cautious with age.

Betty: I'd agree with that except for the issue of sexuality. That reads cautious today but for the time period, that is a big deal. And I'll add that he was known within the civil rights movment as gay and, in fact, within the nation since an arrest was used by a White senator to force Rustin out of the movement. But in terms of discussing his sexuality publicly, that's in the eighties. And it was a big deal.

Cedric: And you can say it still is a big deal because Rustin is one of the civil rights pioneer, very essential to the movement, and he's not someone that is stressed when you hear of the civil rights movement.

Betty: I'd agree with that. I'd add that it's part of our community's, I'm speaking of the Black community and directing the "our" to Cedric, refusal or reluctance to address the issue of sexuality and orientation. I think it's embarrassing. Of course some do address it. But we've allowed it to be a something that can turn against each other. Bully Boy's been able to use it with some Black churches, sexual orientation, to turn them against their own interests. In my church we had to deal with it, we had too many members and families of members who were dealing with AIDS. It's one of the healthiest things we've done. With the empahis on family in the Black community, I look skeptical at any Black person that tells me they've never met a gay or lesbian. They are in our families, they are in our churches and it distresses that a White Bully Boy has been allowed by some "Black leaders" to turn us against each other. There's some idiot. and I use that term by choice, Cedric's also heard him, his "sermons" get passed around in e-mails. And for someone so supposedly opposed to gays and lesbians, he sure knows a lot about gay sex and he sure seems to enjoy talking about it in terms that I can't imagine sex being talked about in my church.

Cedric: Yeah, that guy is an idiot. And every month or so, it'll pop up in an e-mail forward to someone in the office and they'll be giggling at it. They say, if you ask them, they're laughing at how stupid he is. Well that doesn't help the race either, flaunting ignorance. I really do not have respect for people who pass that around, either out of their own beliefs or to giggle over.

Ty: And this goes to what erases Rustin for history and how a race whose leaders want to fuss and fret over language don't want to address serious issues. I mean, where is Bill Cosby on this issue? Where his speech on the need for us to embrace one another?

Betty: Exactly, you can list the leaders who've addressed this topic in any form and it's a small list. Coretta Scott King and Julian Bond would be on the list but a lot of other so-called "brave" voices wouldn't be. I like Jesse Jackson but I don't respect his opinions on this issue.

Rebecca: Which is interesting that you cite him when Rustin cites him as one of the people working to turn MLK against him.

Ty: And it's forty years later and he still hasn't changed his tune.Cedric: I don't know if Dona wants to call time or not, I know we've got Betty's pick still to do.

Dona: No, this has been an interesting discussion and we can extend. We actually have two more books.

Cedric: Well I'll make my comment and try to be brief about it. Some African-Americans are offended when sexual orientation is likened to race. And it's not just that. You heard some nonsense about "Cindy Sheehan is no Rosa Parks!" As though allowing someone else to build on a very powerful movement will erase Ms. Parks. It won't. It will only extend her reach and future generations' knowlege of her. I hear, everyone hears, modern day comparisons to George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or whomever. They become points of reference. I can understand the fear here because any minority group risks being stripped of whatever place in history they've earned. But while realizing that, we should realize that part of what makes Whites such a point of history, besides who got to draw it up, is that it is a short hand. Most people couldn't tell you where Thomas Jefferson was born. But they can use him as a point of reference. When the civil rights movement is used as a point of reference, I think it extends the movement, keeps it alive in history and increases knowledge. Otherwise it's going to be confined to one time, one period, one group and it will be ghetto-ized in terms of how history is taught. I'm thrilled that we have our African-American heroes but I want to see them be heroes for all. They fought as hard as anyone else and they are a part of American history. I was thrilled to hear some people calling Cindy Sheehan the Rosa Parks of the peace movement. I see it as a huge improvement over years of someone being "the Black __" who ever. We have heroic figures and their struggles are heroic. If they inspire people that's a great thing, regardless of race. The point of teaching Black History is to get it back into our understanding of history. It's a part of American history and hopefully it will be worked into American history more and more with each generation. I'm done.

Ty: I'll add that I agree with Cedric. I've attended predominately African-American schools and predominatley White ones. And I've seen a "Oh, it's Black history" type collective groan at some of the White schools. In standing up for her race, Rosa Parks stood up for a better nation.I didn't always hear that point in made in school.