Monday, August 13, 2007

Discovering The New World

Columbus Day is not a holiday that I celebrate nor commemorate. It is one of those phenomenons in U.S. society that is so ingrained that to even question its validity is nearly traitorous. But, sorry, can't fight back my instincts - the very concept of celebrating a figure like Columbus is offensive.

When the ships arrived at the shores of this chunk of land, nothing was discovered. Well, at least from the perspective of the native peoples who had already called it home and cultivated its lifeforce in such a balance that the give and take of the natural cycle was allowed to do its thing.

Lately, I can't help but feel a little bit like a village man who suddenly realizes that over the horizon a new creature is trotting in this general direction. They certainly look humanlike, but there's something different.

Did you know that the Spanish Conquistadors scared the bejeebers out of native peoples whenever they initially rode up on horses? You see, there were no creatures like that around here for at least 10,000 years, so to new eyes, it looked like a centaurish animal.

We all know that the illusion was immediately shattered like a mirror when the riders dismounted. The newcomers were, indeed, humans only still different. Different ways of communicating, different sets of values, everything different. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Lots of conversation is raging about the blog world and its diversity. Specifically, the lack of it. And here is where I would like to share some thoughts that are wafting around like clouds of smoke out of a pipe. I will let Jenifer Fernandez Ancona begin, by quoting the ending of her excellent commentary over at Open Left.

One of the key ways to build bridges is for people to get to know each other better, and to find where there is common ground across issues. A sense of community is built through ideological ties, but also personal ties. This is also why more diverse voices at the planning table of Netroots Nation is important, and why deliberately bringing together bloggers and Internet activists from all kinds of different backgrounds could be a central goal of the gathering.

But that kind of multi-racial coalition can only work if everyone -- especially those with the biggest platforms who are considered leaders -- is truly on board.

Now, if you go read the comments, you'll see some defensive blow back by one the more prominent bloggers in the Progressive Blogosphere™. It's not surprising since there's been quite a bit of it displayed in all its glory this week. On the other side of the indignation coming from the most heavily-trafficked blogs are the beginnings of entreaties and conversation.

Only we're already starting to see that we don't speak the same language - even if we hold a lot of the same political values. So, how to move forward?

Well, speaking as a Latino and for me as a person, I agree with Jenifer that the first step is to have the blogs who have been coronated by the status quo as the official spokespeople to realize that there is a problem. The other piece that should be occurring simultaneously is a commitment to listening to what has always been going on outside of the Kos/MyDD/FireDogLake/Atrios/Digby realm of existence.

There are blogs out here that specifically write for audiences using our voices as people of color. As I wrote over the summer, however, none of us can (nor will) claim to be speaking for everyone within our demographic. But we are out here doing our thing. We might not have the street cred to warrant an invitation to debate on Meet the Press or anything, and maybe the question we should all ask, is why?

If you find that question absurd coming from a random Latino blogger who averages around 100 hits a day, then you are still part of the problem.

But what have you (the plural you) got to show for your blogging efforts?

The conversation is already at a stopping point here.

A method of measurement is being asked for that does not speak the same dialect as me. Where the questioner is seeking some type of validation, I read arrogance. Pointing that out is not always the easiest thing to do, but it is necessary. Sorry. But since you, dear Hypothetical Human asked, I would like to point out an example of what I'm talking about when I mention shutting our mouths and clicking on sites that are outside of our norm.

Remember the Immigration Marches from 2006? I recall the shock that it sent over at DailyKos and other sites - lots of "how could we have missed knowing about this?" "did you see those numbers, how did they get so many?" etc etc. Well, that's because you weren't listening.

So, here we are today - 13 de Agosto 2007.

Conversations are beginning to bud now, those who have managed to "Crash the Gates" are scrambling to point out every non-white/non-male blogger that they've ever known in order to refute assertions that they lack diversity, and still I sit - wondering if we'll ever be able to figure out how to talk with one another without me being expected to assimilate to the Empire's way of existence.

to be continued...

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