The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Blogs, Diversity & Moving Forward, A Proposal

I’ve attempted to offer some analysis — however imperfect — of what happened and why with regards to the Clinton blogger lunch. I got some things wrong in the process, and have tried to clean up my side of the street in those instances. Now I want to try and offer some suggestions for moving forward without rehashing any that if I can help it. More to the point, I want to address what I think progressive bloggers of color — or any other constituency of progressive bloggers, really — can do to help ourselves and others in our corners of the blogosphere, independent of what anyone else does or doesn’t do. The primary point is to strengthen ties and communications between us, and secondarily to help us find, support, and promote one another. So, I offer this as a proposal in response to Jeffrey Feldman’s diary on Daily Kos.

I’ve been thinking about the question I had on my mind as I left YearlyKos, about the possibility of establishing an lgbt netroots site, which instead became weekly lgbt diary rounds-up on Daily Kos. That seems to be going well for now, but , I’ve begun to think that establishing a central site/network or progressive bloggers of color might be a step towards building and strengthening or own network, parallel and complimentary to — not separate from —the larger network of progressive bloggers. This is “not a lets take our ball and go home proposal. I don’t envision people ceasing to participate in the larger progressive netroots, nor do I even remotely want that. Our communities stand to gain too much from a successful progressive movement, and like wise that movement from strengthening its diversity, to allow that to happen. The focus of this proposal is to combine our resources and strengthen our connections for everyone’s benefit

Inspired by one of Chris Bowers’ posts, I posted earlier about the realities of traffic as related to issue specific blogging. And I guess I’m inspired by Chris again, in saying that those of us who’ve expressed concerns in the last few days would do well to focus on what we can do to address at least some of those concerns ourselves. One of the things we can do is to build and strengthen our own networks, develop leadership, and define success within those networks. Doing so may yield positive results beyond those networks, the larger progressive blogosphere, and progressive politics in general. But it starts with us.

There was such a network at some point, called Brown Bloggers, but as of right now there’s nothing at that domain. But it’s part of what inspired the idea I have in mind. The other inspiration is the Progressive Blog Alliance. (That’s one of the reasons I emailed Aldon to get his thoughts on the idea, as he’s one of the people behind the PBA.) What I’m suggesting is blending various aspects of the two in order to establish something like the Progressive Blog Alliance for progressive bloggers of color. It’s functions could include:

  • serving as a place where members have individual blogs or diaries to which they can crosspost content from their own blog
  • a blogroll that members would then post on their individual blogs.
  • a blogroll of members, listed by state
  • aggregate RSS feeds from members.

That’s a start, but it could also encompass better communications between members, organizing realtime member events, coordinating actions on various issues, etc. Most of all in could serve as a place for new bloggers to get exposure, for established bloggers to expand their audience, and a resource for anyone who’s interested to discover blogs and bloggers they might not have come across otherwise. it might also serve as a place to continue discussing diversity, for anyone who’s interested in participating. It could serve as a place to promote stories that might not otherwise get much exposure. Ideally, it would help build a community to nurture and promote voices from our communities. It could help promote and support ideas like FuturePAC, which promotes progressive African American women for state and federal office.

That’s as far as I’m willing to speculate about the possible benefits. Will it boost anyone’s traffic? Maybe, maybe not. Will it boost anyone’s link ranking? Maybe, maybe not. And maybe those aren’t the appropriate metrics for success we should be using for something like this. Success might mean new readers for some of the participating bloggers. It might mean media exposure some participating bloggers. It might mean coordinating successful actions in or between our communities; or between our blogs. It might include establishing an advertising network via BlogAds.It might involve taking a borrowing a page from BlogHer and having a conference, or having a workshop/roundtable at YearlyKos.

All of those things are possible. But first it has to be built. Or rather, first people have to decide if it should be built.

So, I offer this as a possible way of moving forward, and I’m willing to commit myself to helping build it if there’s support for it. Beyond that, I’ll commit to helping and working with any proposal to move forward on this issue that has sufficient support to make it happen.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what else I can do or offer, but I’m open to suggestions.

32 Comments

  1. I’d hoped to post this earlier, or during “peak” blog reading hours, but I didn’t want to wait any longer to offer it as part of the conversation.

  2. This is a well-thought out post, T. I like the idea of the PBC and also setting some goals for success for blogs of color. There’s a Hip Hop Political Convention that’s going on, but how many black progressive bloggers attended and blogged it? We need to get on our own game, stand and deliver. I think we can with your leadership and that of other leading bloggers in the space.

  3. I think it is great as well. For my meta two cents on this, read my post at Greater Democracy.

  4. Well, I think it’s a good idea. Sort of. I think a lot of its success would also depend on its independence…

    if it’s to be another sort of kos satellite site, only browner, I don’t know… there are reasons many people of color have left kos, mydd, myleftwing and others, and didn’t attend the yearlykos. Not from a lack of them reaching out, but from a conscious decision to shake the dust off their feet.

    But, as with building every new thing, you are taking a good first step. I’m sure you’ll (eventually) get a variety of opinions and can go from there.

  5. i really, really promise to post on the national conference i’ve been kicking around with some people for a while. it’s a bit bigger than your idea because it goes beyond POC political bloggers but POC using the net for business, law, education, culture, arts, music, health, etc … as well as politics.

    as to a ProgPOC aggregator, that’s a wonderful idea –although you’d have to be conscious that it’s not just about black or latino bloggers but asian, south asia, middle easter, first nations bloggers as well. which is what was the criticism we received with the BrownBloggers site. we had people telling us we were … ahem … excluding others.

    the irony…

  6. Yeah. I should clarify what I mean by people of color. To me that's always meant African American, Latino, Native Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders off the top of my head, but it would include Middle Eastern, etc. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    And I love the conference idea. But planning an executing an event like that isn't my forte. Plus I tend to bite off more than I can chew sometimes, so I wanted to resist that tendency and start by suggesting something modest and managable. 

  7. All of your ideas sound great.

    Your idea of a network sounds a lot like the general idea behind Big Brass Blog, which Shakes Sis and I started up back in Feb 2005 (The Dark Wraith has since taken over the back end admin of it). We started it to try to give exposure to progressive bloggers (women, POC, and allies, not POC specifically) who we thought did excellent work, but who weren’t getting the traffic or exposure at their own pads the work deserved (since the top bloggers seemed to lack the ability at that time to find and link to blogs by women, for example). What this later grew into, with hundreds of members, was the Big Brass Alliance, specifically related to aggregating the blogs of people posting on the Downing Street Memo. It had a mailing list and popular message forum.

    As with many efforts run by folks with much to do and too little time, it sputtered out with folks exhausted and not able to handle the back end work. It’s since relaunched (the blog portion only, just a week or so ago), but there has been a desire by some folks to have an alternate YK of sorts, where those lesser-known voices could be heard.

    So alternative conference idea seeds of all types are out there, but as you said T, executing that takes boots on the ground with people who know how to do that sort of thing well.

    We must be certain that whatever is started (networks, conferences) can be modest enough to maintain at a level of quality that people want to opt into, is easy to participate in, and will be a respected source that can promote those ideas by driving traffic (and with it, raising visibility).

  8. So this “bloggers of color” thing, you say hispanics would be included. What bout those who are mixed? Where would we fit in? Those of us who are “half bloggers of color”??

    Could we still join up? I know many of us don’t consider ourselves to be white. But we are also not 100% of anything. Are we to be excluded? Perhaps we need our own “american mutt bloggers”. 🙂

  9. So this “bloggers of color” thing, you say hispanics would be included. What bout those who are mixed? Where would we fit in? Those of us who are “half bloggers of color”??

    As far as I’m concerned, yes.

  10. I see where you and Nanette are coming from, but I have to side with Nanette that is really depends on if this is a kos poc caucus? If so, does that mean only those who participate in dkos only get the invite? Who will determine who is the perfect fit?

    the question I have, who gets the invite? Who is doing the outreach and what method will be used? Is there a list of potential poc bloggers people already in mind or is it only those who participate in dKos? What are the requirements, because it is well known there are certain topics that can be blogged about and those that forbidded?

    It is one thing getting attacked from the Rethugs because I know where they are coming from, and it is easy debate them. It is another to get blindsided when it comes from people who say they are our allies. Some of those things were very hurtful, sure you can say, this is politics and we have to develop a thick skin, but that is not what makes it hurtful. What makes it hurtful, the people who are speaking in our behalf are to be handled with kid gloves, because to call them out will only cause consequences as it was told over and over again. If we sided with Liza, don’t complain if we get less traffic. Will this be the case for this group? If somebody who disagrees with the poc “gatekeeper” will they be quickly cut off?

  11. I don’t see it as a DKos POC caucus. There are people who participate there who would probably like to participate in this, but it wouldn’t be limited to them as far as I’m concerned.

    The question of outreach is one part that needs to be discussed and fleshed out. I don’t have all the answers, so that’s why I posted it. There are bloggers that I have in mind, but there are lots more I might not know about that others do. The only requirements I foresee are that the bloggers be (a) progressive and (b) people of color (black, latino, native american, asian/pacific islander, middle eastern, biracial, etc.).

    The rest? Well that depends on if enough people want to build it, enough participate to make it effective, and what we make of it from there.

  12. I can offer hosting and technical support. Rhetorical support too…I “bill” myself as a Black Partisan but POC rhetoric is just as straightforward.

  13. Seems like a good idea to me. I offer two candid caveats.

    First, I agree with Nanette that it should be independent and not a satellite of something else.

    Second, I think anytime we put together a P.O.C. space, it exposes the fault lines in defining that term. I imagine that will be more complicated than you think.

    From my experience, P.O.C. spaces, as wonderful as they are, tend to be less embraced by African Americans than by other people of color. Black people feel (rightly or wrongly) that their/our history is unique because of slavery and segregation and are often unwilling to be lumped into the broader “people of color” camp.

    How you/we negotiate those issues will help make the difference in determining the success of this new enterprise.

  14. Terrance: once again, you focus on solution. Good work. I had never heard of the PDA, and went to the web site. One thing I noticed was the explicit determination not to set ground rules. Any blogger who meets the very broad criteria as stated in the Mission Statement is free to post whatever they like without interference. That sounds like a fair plan. And building an initial community seems to be a more important issue than how that community should interface with the so-called A-list blogs. And perhaps something along the lines of the “Drinking Liberally” concept could be used to encourage local networking between POC bloggers.
    And certainly, as I’ve seen with Terrance here, when he raises an issue of importance to him, and interfaces with like-minded bloggers, it can lead to positive direct action. The larger the pool of like-minded bloggers, the more profound the impact.

  15. Terrance, I think it’s a good idea. I’m watching to see what goes on here, discussion wise. Clearly, I agree with the inclusion of the additional races you mentioned…the idea is to provide a venue for the not-mainstream, so I’ll say it, the “not White.” This would, of course, include all non-White races. Middle Eastern, Asian, Latino, etc. Definining it (even in this comment) as “non-White” may feel to some, I’m guessing, like ‘racism’. But most of us here will know that “Racism” is not a valid tag for non-dominant races who decide to take a little power back.

    Angie… There is no 100% of anything that I know of. Who began defining race in this way? Was it Whites? Was it census makers in America? Was it Europe? Was this notion designed to make anybody of “mixed” races know that they are Not White, and take on the subsequent set of feeling and subordinated identity? The mixed thing clearly only applies to us Brown folk, because you can be Irish, Russian, Jewish, French, and English and in America, you’re only WHITE. Why is that? Nobody cuts you up into slices, put some into storage, and some in the front window. You get to be all of yourself, undefined, just A Person. Throw in some brown, and people want to divide you. Keep the moldy part outside!

    I wouldn’t get stuck on being 100%, on “not belonging.” I don’t think it’s up to the lab technicians to define us. For example, Mexicans are Indians composed of many tribes. We got us Tarahumara, Aztec, Olmec, Toltec, Nahua, Maya, and more! In some families, there is blood from Spain. We can go back to the Moors being in Spain’s background if we want. We have “Mestizo,” the word invented to account for the mixing between Europe and Mexico. But Mexico, unlike America, is not caught up in race quite as much. Interesting.

    So I guess if you feel you are White with a streak of brown, that can be tough. If you’re feeling like a black & white cookie that everyone’s leaving on the plate, and doesn’t want to take home, that’s too bad. I know what that’s like. I used to feel similarly. My father is Mexican, and my mother Romanian and German and Russian. But I’ve come around to see it a different way. Because for myself, I eventually found that this dividing trick was done for the benefit of others.

    I am Brown. In my heart, and in my skin. That’s me. I know it’s up to each person to self-identify. But as far as I’m concerned, if you have brown in your background, you’re brown! And I hope quite proud. I guess it depends on what you identify with.

    With the government-invented word of “Hispanic,” we run into trouble. It’s very very broad, and indicates the language spoken, rather than a brown background, as “Latino” seems to. If someone doesn’t have brown (yelow/red, etc, sorry, shortcuts) in their background, then I guess they may not be a “Person of Color,” because (for example) the Spanish are “Hispanic,” but White. Perhaps we cannot call all Spanish-speaking humans “People of Color.” So I am not here to define what the POC tag will be. Just thinking out loud. This has always been an item of controversy…the tag of “Hispanic.” Simply for that vagueness.

    Even if so, Angie, I still say you are just plain Hispanic then. There are no ‘half-hispanic’ people! So come on down! COME HOME ANGIE!!! 😉 (I kid, but with love).

    And Terrance: you don’t have a Preview button! Oh, the pressure of not-so-edited commenting!!

  16. I would like to echo previous comments that the new space NOT be a satellite of MyDD, DKos, myleftwing or any other site. Though I do think (those of us who are active on those sites) should use those sites to promote/publicize the existence of the POCProgressive Project Terrance is proposing.

    I agree that there can be some issues with African Americans participating fully in spaces/projects which are defined “POC-friendly” but I think that also applies to some other members of the “non-White” family.

    I think one measure of success of a project or enterprise is its clarity in its mission. Do these group of people know exactly why they are here and to do what? So I would propose that some kind of work be done to draft a mission statement (and possibly begin a FAQ) to more concretely define the contours of Terrance’s suggestion.

  17. there’s already something like this going on in truely progressive/radicalblogland —maybe you should try emailing those of us who have already been working on this. See kevin at slanttruth, vegan kid or me–we’d be interested in talking with you–no use you starting something brand new from scratch when there’s already been work done.

    but i should emphasize, this is progressive to radical, not liberal to progressive. people are working on things that are much different than getting dems elected to office.

    hope there is something we can work on together…

  18. Nezua — first, hilarious! 🙂

    So now consider this situation. You know me, half white, half Guatemalan. I don’t consider myself white or brown, but a little of both. You on the other hand consider yourself brown. You said, if you have brown in your background, you are brown. I’m sure those that are yellow say the same.

    So get this. My boys. They are half white, quarter Guatemalan, quarter Japanese. Where would they then be placed?

    🙂

    Yeah. I like to keep it interesting.

  19. hey, i just read that again and realized how kinda snarky that sounded–sorry about that, i’ve got my kids tonight and i’m feeling super sick, so i’m trying to get blog reading done over a steady stream of screaming and fighting and sickness! hope i didn’t come off too nasty!
    🙂

  20. Angie…I would hope they would join me in the kitchen-place, that’s where! Becuz I bet they can cook up some good stuff with all that cultura! 🙂

    I like what brownfemipower said. this is progressive to radical, not liberal to progressive. people are working on things that are much different than getting dems elected to office. I wonder how often this holds true on blogs o’ color…because there are things that the Mainstream doesn’t focus on. And those things are often important to us.

  21. Keith Boykin voices one of my frustrations in how quickly POC become divided. This bothers me almost as much as the oppression we all suffer. I agree with Keith, or the statement he conveyed for others: Blacks do have their own unique struggle. (I am not of that camp, but it’s obvious you do, no?) So do women. So do….all of us. I wish there were a way to unite under a more common banner. But maybe it cannot be done? I know that my camp, my circle, is pretty heavy into Latino issues. But I am on a (side)mission to discuss the similarities (without speaking out of turn, I hope) between the different shades of Brown (metaphorically and literal brown). I hate the common meme that pits us against each other. It’s cliche but true too often. And we have enough to work against.

    That said, I understand that there will be spaces that are more exclusive than others. I do not take offense if it is because a group is trying to address their own issues and must stay focused. As long as a group doesnt need to strike down or oppress other groups in their agenda of keeping group/tribal cohesion, I’m all for that, and would take it into account as perfectly understandable. And who cares if I understand it anyway!! haha! I crack myself up.

  22. Well, like I said, I assume there’s a lot going on out there that I don’t know about. That’s part of the reason I propose this. But you raise an interesting point.

    but i should emphasize, this is progressive to radical, not liberal to progressive. people are working on things that are much different than getting dems elected to office.

    hope there is something we can work on together…

    Honestly, I fall on the liberal-to-progressive end of the scale, closer to the middle. But there are probably some things we can agree on and work on together.

  23. First I want to applaud Terrance’s effort to turn this nasty spat into something positive. Thank you. Must be a function of your dharma practice. So Namaste to you. 😉

    On the whole, I like Terrance’s ideas. I also share the concerns that others have expressed in this thread, especially concerning independence, openness, and gatekeeping mechanisms.

    Regarding “mixed” and “pure” race, I’d propose that any self-identified progressive person of color be granted access; basically, the “one-drop rule”. (Incidentally I suppose I’m “mixed” because I’m half Han, half Manchu, but hey in America that makes me “pure” Chinese; most Americans are unaware that there are over 50 ethnic groups in China. Anyway…)

    Regarding tensions between agendas of different races and ethnicities, especially relating to the unique experience of African Americans, I’d suggest we cross that bridge when we get there. Personally, I do believe that African Americans deserve the most prominent platform, because of the centrality of slavery in this country’s historical narrative and the unparalleled contribution of African Americans to this country’s cultural and economic development. (I’m usually pretty much required to add something here about how indentured Chinese built the railroads yada yada but this is a POC thread so I can save my breath…ahh, I like it already!)

    Regarding the mechanisms of gatekeeping, this is a biggy. As I see it, there are 2 fundamental approaches that could be combined in some brilliant hybrid manner that only POC could come up with: (1) algorithm-driven (i.e. something like Google News for POC bloggers, with no human editorial intervention), and (2) human-driven, in which editorially-empowered groups of people decide by vote or discussion or some other means to promote various stories in alignment with the network’s priorities and principles. I believe the gatekeeping function in this context will be something that will require constant attention and adaptation.

    Regarding ideology, short of calling for violent coups or assassinations, I don’t see a need for much of a cutoff on the left side. Democrat, social democrat, socialist, revolutionary workers, anarcho-syndicalist, whatever, let’s all talk.

    Peace.

  24. terrance – i’m sure we’ve got a lot of common ground. i’m glad to see there are more folks thinking along the same lines. i hope we can get some work done together.

  25. Brownfemipower didn’t mention it, so I will. The Radical Women of Color blogring/carnival is another example of what you’re talking about here in action.

    I also want to also thank you for attempting to turn this nastiness into something postitive.

  26. First I want to applaud Terrance’s effort to turn this nasty spat into something positive. Thank you. Must be a function of your dharma practice. So Namaste to you.

    Thanks, though looking at my own participation in spots reminds me that the emphasis belongs on practice. (In other words, I haven’t quite got it yet, but I’m still working on it.)

  27. I would happily participate and admire you’re desire to move forward . I’m stilll extra heated about the deafening silence inother quarters but I’m a young hothead.

  28. Terrance,

    You’re far too hard on yourself. “Practice” is certainly the operative word, but in my book that doesn’t always mean being the nice one. Think of the Parable of the Burning House. For me, dharma practice means balanced discernment in action. There are times for restraint, times to silently absorb a beat-down, and times to express compassion by knocking the stuffing out of someone whose karma requires it, for their own dam,n good. In this instance, it continues to amaze me that the only two sincere apologies that have been issued during this episode have come from Liza and you. And they’re the ones who are claiming to be the grown-ups around here. It’s ridiculous. I, for one, appreciate your role in all this.

  29. I too would gladly participate. I also appreciate the acknowledgment that there are as a many perils involved at setting up a “POC” progressive site as exist in trying to set up any other political site. In the end, however, I think Bernice Johnson Reagon’s advice about coalition (and that’s what any POC site — as opposed to a Black/African American site, or Latino site, or Asian site or Native American site) is, necessarily, emphasizing) can be extended to the blogosphere as well.

    I’ve been feeling pretty strongly in this election cycle that a discussion amongst “us” needs to happen pretty soon, even as I also, for want of a better term, am probably a “Black partisan”. I don’t know that this discussion is one that can exclude those who are not self-identified “progressive”, or “radical” whatever those terms really mean. It seems to me that at the grassroots level, communities of color have far more folks that are “liberal to centrist” in their outlook that are doing good work for our respective people, and for us collectively as people of color. IMO, they need to be part of the discussion, at some point, even if it means that at times we are in sharp disagreement about methodology or outcomes, because IMO it seems to me that we are doing what we do to make a diffference in our communities, not just to read ourselves think. Just something to think about.

  30. Just to second what Kai said wrt making something positive out of the mess.

    and also to note: yeah, i’d been wondering what was happening with Big Brass Blog.

    but i like the idea of a number of…overlapping coalitions/webrings/something as a way of building a more connected and more powerful progressive ‘sphere.

    I think the problem with Kos, MyDD, and so on is that they all got really centralized.

    dunno how you really keep that from happening. although maybe wrt Kos it was partly built in from the get-go? (friends already knew each other, yadda, or so i understand it).

    do people not really use webrings anymore?

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