Friday, July 18, 2008

Liveblogging the "Dos Centavos" Latino Blogger Panel

Live from Austin, Texas in Room 19 at Netroots Nation. This post will be updated as the session goes. I'll finalize it afterwards with all kinds of linky goodness.

Matt Ortega, Moderator:

Two questions he gets the most 1) who are the latino bloggers and 2) what are they writing about?

The perspective you'll get is on a more human level. Don't cover polls or horserace politics so much, but rather on the people and how many communities are affected. Many wear the cultura on their sleeve in the writing and design of sites.

Regarding immigration, we are trying to point out that it is more than a "latino issue" - it affects many different communities.

Panelists are giving introductions. Information for all of them is here.

Discussing how our communities care about many issues, like education, healthcare, the war in Iraq, immigration, etc. just like the greater community, but it affects us in a specific way. Drop out rates, lack of latinos in college, women and the abuse seen in ICE detentions, are some examples.

Question: What brought you to blogging?

Mynor Rodriguez: ironically, it had nothing to do with being a latino, but rather speaking out to bigger civil rights issues that affect many communities. "sometimes you have punch a bully in the face" - in 2003 budgets for prevention were cut and it affected communities.

Edmundo Rocha: researcher by heart, noticed that alot of blogs would post snippets of articles and comment. Interested in seeing what was behind a story, what caused certain things. Got more involved with ePluribusMedia, doing some background research on various stories. People were talking about healthcare, but not about how bad it was in the sense of the hispanic community. "I am one of the statistics" - of people who don't have coverage. Trying to get role models out there. We got sucked in to the immigration debate with the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR4437). Nonprofits in the barrios were being targeted in his area.

Marisa Treviño: wanted to get a Latina perspective out there. After the immigration bills came out, we got sucked in. Question: do you see gender barriers? Answer: very elitist attitude when it comes to Op/Ed boards. Thankful for the blogosphere, because we are able to write in our voice, and not something that may be expected from a mainstream sources. There are some big blogs out there that could probably use more diversity. As far as writing, doors are opening more in the blogosphere than in the traditional media.

Question: do you believe the internet is colorblind?

Edmundo Rocha: it depends on your blog name. If you go by XicanoPwr, then that's not being blind. It depends on how you approach stuff. Follow-up question: do you think it should be colorblind? Progressive movement is inclusive.

Mynor Rodriguez: it's difficult when you're typecasted. You are limited by the greater blogosphere on your credibility when you want to talk about different topics.

Matt Ortega: human nature feature going on here, where people are organizing and being attracted to others who have similar interests and backgrounds.

Marisa Treviño: we are reaching a point in the latino blogosphere where we are asking "do we want to be bloggers who are latino or latino bloggers". It's something I ran in to in mainstream journalist. Wanted to just be a family columnist, but the editor said that he didn't have a 'latina columnist' - at first it put me in a corner, only comment like that, but you end up learning that all issues have an impact on the latino community. not represented very much in traditional media or the blogosphere.

Edmundo Rocha: I started out general. Wanted to use research skills on the inside stories, background. Asks why links were always sent out to the same people.

Matt Ortega: Perceptions of latinos as homogenous group. If you just listen to the panelists today, you see that we are very diverse within our own community. Mexicans and Cubans, etc. Thinks a lot about backgrounds. We have black latinos, asian latinos, etc. When the 2008 Election gets talked about, it's like we are talked about as one big group. Will we all vote one way or the other? Never gets talked about how anti-war we are, often patriotic, many serve in the military. Many come from disadvantaged communities, and one way to get an education is to join the military.

Mynor Rodriguez: The first casualty of the Iraq War was a latino. Many of our values are the same, religion has a lot to do with it. But we are a very diverse people. We've been lumped in, for better or worse. Cubans are going to be different because they have a very different American experience. Mexicans who have been here and had the border cross them have a different view of this country. Salvadorans in New York, etc. Perhaps that's what we need to do with our blogs, to give that perspective.

Marisa Treviño: That's a good point, but there is some type of pride involved when we see a latino/latina from any group win an Olympic event, for example. We'll take credit!

Edmundo Rocha: taking credit can also being dangerous. Alberto Gonzales is an example. How far do we take credit? We have to ask hard questions like do we have to censor our voices in order to be able to get on the media. How do we bring in the community as a whole.

Matt Ortega: focus of a lot of the latino blogosphere is on detention centers, the marches, many things that fell through the cracks of the greater media. Many latino bloggers worked to get the information out. What are your thoughts in getting the content out to pick up steam?

Marisa Treviño: The reason that many of our blogs exist is out of frustration. It is often a response to what we see is not receiving notice from the mainstream press. When first started, would write the post, email the person she wrote about it. Linking is important, people who have empathy on what we're writing about. Most of the blogs I read, deal with issues that are frustrating us all. That common bond, if you will.

Mynor Rodriguez: Mentions Markos being a latino. Mixed-race American. Platforms where we have such an audience like DailyKos. Opinion-makers, politicians, etc. finally gotten to the point where people are paying attention. Traditional media has failed us the seven years. We've taken it upon ourselves to get the news out.

Edmundo Rocha: Detention centers were picked up. But conditions have not changed. Out at the Hutto facility, protests have been covered by us. We can put a human face on what's happening. Trad/media doesn't want to hear about immigrants being detained in vans without airconditioning, or 13 people sharing one bottle of water, women being stripsearched in front of men, having to use the bathroom with the door open. When I blog, I blog for them. No one is listening to them. The traditional media just writes their little thing. Goes back to balance, spoke to one gentleman who was afraid of talking because of fear of ICE. Didn't want his wife deported. Stories like these that need to be told. But what's the shelf life?

Matt Ortega: problems with disgusting comments at some of the progressive blogosphere when it comes to immigration/pro-migrant threads. Can't believe they call themselves progressives, broader implications. This issue has been tied to latinos, we don't grasp why these things happen. Many want to just put a stop-gap instead of solving issues. When we go out to the greater progressive blogosphere, it becomes difficult. "Illegals" get blamed for everything.

Mynor Rodriguez: Tactic of divide and conquer has been done for ages. Many Texas laws have been proposed to blame migrant and latino communities for all the ills. Stopped making arguments to them on a moral basis, they're not listening, but rather make pragmatic arguments at them. "How are you going to deport 12 million people when the government couldn't even evacuate New Orleans."

Edmundo Rocha: It's not just policy reform, it's about media reform. Nightly news has a narrative about crime that is racist. Names are Ortega, Rodriguez, etc. We are lumped in by the greater media. Public opinion is based on what people see, so we need reform our media.

Marisa Treviño and Mynor Rodriguez: Think it's a lost cause to get the traditional media to reform, but there are goals we can set to accomplish something. Push them on identifyiers: don't use "illegal". because they are not saying "people without papers", they are saying something far different.

Matt Ortega: New topic - Sees more latino faces getting involved in campaigns. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns are training many more community organizes. Hopes to see a new generation of latinos running for office and getting involved. Examples of City Councilman who won a race at age 22.

Before Q&A, want to let everyone know about which is a good aggregator. Other site is The Sanctuary. It's a pro-migrant site that was started by a group of latino bloggers. A place for people to come together and support one another without fear of racist and nativist comments.

Comment from the crowd: I'm Half Persian/Half Mexican - Two of the most forceful advocates in San Antonio for latinos is a white guy and another is a black guy. Looking around the room, there are many different people here, important that we have a seat at the table, a presence. We shouldn't be typecasted to talking about immigration, baseball and Catholicism. Hutto Facility is no different than Guantanamo.

Lisa from Mothertalkers: how close are latino pundits and public voices to the Democrats? We should have a presence in the way GOP puts latino faces on TV. It would solidify latinos as a constituency when someone like us is able to speak. We need to get Leslie Sanchez, other CHC members to be more presence.

Michael Signorile: we have to inter-connect. We have to work together on campaigns. An example regarding a coordinated attack on the word "illegal"

From the crowd: what are your thoughts on Bill Richardson's campaign and the fact that he may possibly be a vice presidential selection for Barack Obama?

Mynor Rodriguez: I believe he is one of the most qualified Americans to be President.

Matt Ortega: he is one of the most genuine people I've ever met in politics. Thinks he is qualified for any number of posts.

Comment from crowd: Regarding Bill Richardson, he has had problems in the past regarding the Wen Ho Lee. Same problems that migrants face.

Regarding Alberto Gonzales, we have to hold each other accountable, too.

Marisa Treviño: We are still at the point where we are very independent. We have to learn how to come together and support when we have a qualified candidate.

Matt Ortega: thankful to everyone for attending. Genuinely showing interest in what we are doing.

Mynor Rodriguez - wants to give a plug to Juan Garcia down in Corpus Cristi who has been able to build coalitions. Keep an eye on him.

[UPDATE] Matt Ortega has the video feed from the panel up at his blog.

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