I wasn’t able to attend the Brown Bloggers meet-up in NYC. Family responsibilities kept me close to home that weekend. I did, however, download and listen to the podcast, which I guess is the next best thing to being there. After listening, I found myself pondering the questions asked. Does race matter when you blog? Does race factor into my blogging? And, if so, how?
It’s interesting to consider. “Race” is one of the categories on the sidebar to the left, but there are only 41 posts in it. I’d say that’s due to two factors. First, I’m often sloppy about categorizing posts, and more concerned with what I want to say than what box I finally put it in. Second, I think that in writing about a variety of topics, it’s difficult to put race in a box and keep it there, because it’s a part of my entire experience. Given the skin I wake up in every morning, it can’t help but inform everything I think about or write about, because I have to think about it. As I wrote before, I don’t have the luxury, or the privilege, of not thinking about it.
I know I’m a bit “late to the party” on this one. I’ve heard the conversations about gender in the left hemisphere of the blogging world—I even jumped into the fray at one point—but I haven’t heard as many conversations about race. Someone asked “where are all the women bloggers?” and a discussion ensued. But I didn’t here anyone ask “where are all the black/latino bloggers?” (I can look at my sidebar and find links to quite a few.) I filed away one post on race in the blogosphere that caught my attention, and have been wanting to get back to it at some point.
Race is one of those topics, like gender, that is a landmine field – simply because there are two parts: the way a person views themselves and their relationship to the society – and the way the society views the person.
…The reason this is important in the difference between different bloggers is that ones blog is not dominated by the identifier – white, black or otherwise – but by one’s personal identification.
…Thus “race” is not the defining category, but identiy is, including the identity one take on from how one expects others to see you.
I clipped out the parts of Stirling’s post that spoke to me, though I lost the thread of the conversation when it drifted into the various spheres of the lefty blogging community. (community?) I think race is inherent in identity, whether consciously or not, and that identity not only colors how you see the world, but what you see and what you don’t. When it comes to blogging, it affects what you look at, what you see when you look, and if/how you write about it afterwards. It probably also affects who you read when it comes to other bloggers, and who you link to, though it’s been pointed out that—as with Kos—that’s sometimes a very conscious decision.
Now, kos claims that he does not take factors such as sex, race or creed into account when choosing front-page writers, and I see no reason to doubt him on this point. However, in the end whether he has intentionally supported writers of color or not really does not matter. Because kos has supported many writers of color, many writers of color have almost always been prominently featured in within the activist, lefty blogosphere. The diversity is that side of the lefty blogosphere is obvious, and it arose almost entirely from decision kos made.
Of course, everyone’s talking about the “top level” of the lefty blogosphere (is there a better word we can use here?), and I’m far enough removed—a coupla solar systems over—from the center of that universe that much of that debate doesn’t really much apply to me. It may be one of the blessings of not being quite “top tier.” There are some conflicts that I don’t get drawn into, because the reverberations don’t quite filter down to my level. There are some things you can see and hear as an observer on the periphery that are much easier to miss when you’re near or in the eye of the storm.
How does race affect my blogging? Well, first of all, it’s not just race. It’s economics, gender, education, and a whole host of other factors that come into play to even make it possible for me to “be bloggin’.” Technology isn’t necessarily the great equalizer. To use it it, you have to know about it, and understand enough about how it works. You have to be able to afford it. While computer price are going down, they aren’t in everyone’s reach. You have to have the leisure time to spend just reading blogs/news and writing blog posts. Unlikely if your one of millions working more than one job to stay afloat, etc. And it helps if cultural assumptions support the idea that (a) you have something to say, (b) that it’s worth saying, and (c) that people will listen if you say it.
I’ll say it again, when it comes to blogging, identity and everything that goes with it—race, gender, orientation, economics, education, etc.—affects what you look at and filters what you see. To extend what Stirling was getting at, how you identify not only affects how you see other people, but whether you see them at all. Chances are the first people you’ll “see”—those first blips on your radar, the people you’ll automatically pay attention to—will be those with whom you share some element of identity. It’s inevitable. That is, unless you make a conscious effort to do otherwise.