Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On the Eve of Netroots Nation

I'm almost done packing for my trip to Austin, Texas for the Netroots Nation convention, which was made possible by a scholarship through Democracy for America (the obligatory commercial, heh). I've already talked about three sessions that I'm looking forward to, outlined in this post, but I wanted to take a moment to discuss some thoughts that have been stewing in my head and heart the past couple of weeks.

The greater progressive blogosphere still has a lot of work to do in order to reach out and respect bloggers of color and so-called "single-issue bloggers". I've already heard some language touting how scholarship recipients are diverse and intended to add brown voices and faces to the crowd in Austin. While I think that's a worthy goal, and I'm certainly greatful for the selection and opportunity to attend, comments like that send an immediate shiver down my spine.

We need to get to a point where our voices and viewpoints are not just incorporated but given trust and responsibility for portions of the program at events like Netroots Nation - given input and leadership roles, you know, as colleagues. It still feels more like a handout, like we're just being asked to assist and assimilate instead of being seen as an integral part of what progressive blogging is all about.

I understand that a big part of it is the differences in mission. Netroots Nation, which has a different name this year, is still organized like Yearly Kos was in the past, just with a different title. DailyKos' mission is partisan in nature and while our goals largely overlap, they don't always do so due to many Democrats who hold offensive positions to many people of color and "single-issue bloggers". As someone who has written extensively on immigration issues over the past few years, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to crosspost entries at DKos, but hold off because I don't want to deal with the onslaught of comments from posters that don't understand where I, or many people that I deal with everyday in my community, come from.

That being said, it is a two-way street. I consider it my responsibility to build coalitions and relationships with groups and people that will ultimately bring about a more just and humane society. If anyone or any group is willing to listen and embrace what I have to say on these things, then I consider it a blessing to be there. As a Xicano, when I write about immigration issues, I do so with a family and community background that has a complicated relationship with border policy, often hostile, in addition to receiving the same flack from nativists who forget that Mexicans are indigenous to "their" country. I can no more ignore that part of my thinking when I write than I can bleach my skin. Not that I'd ever want to, being morenito is a blessing. jejeje.

So I go to a conference this week where I will be meeting up with quite a few people who I've interacted with online over the years. A mixing of worlds of sort between longtime friends in the Kos-centric world as well as a few of my fellow blogmig@s from the Sanctuarysphere. My fear is that I will be just another token brown face in a crowd of bloggers rather than someone who may be able to teach them a few things about how political policies affect people like me. Sort of sounds like a contradiction, eh? I like to think of it more as a conundrum. There is hope, however, that the discussions in the various caucuses, workshops and keynotes will be more resonant to that diverse world that I think we are all seeking in the end. The people who are responsible for this gathering are passionate and have made an effort to reach out, and I see an opening for future forward-movement in dialog.

The short gist of this post? It will be a great opportunity for some plática.

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