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August 3, 2007 / compassioninpolitics

The politics of compassion vs. exclusion in the blogging community

Chris Bowers over at OpenLeft asked a question today before one of his Yearly Kos panels about inclusion and empowerment of minorities in the netroots community. I think its an interesting metaphor to talk about issues of compassion and care in terms of how inclusive or exclusive of people you or your organization happens to be.

So here is most of my post in response….

Should minorities be helped or empowered to move to the center? Yes. They’ve probably lived different lives and so would help shatter or at least enlarge the echo chamber. I guess the question is…what the best way to do it?
Is providing help to send 17 folks to Daily Kos?
Is it providing a couple daily columns from people of color?
Is it having a section of Open Left or similar websites that deal with minority and -ism issues? Or more property, all issues from a minority perspective?
Is it having teach-ins or conferences which adopt the BlogHer model?
Is it reaching out to be a mentor to minority bloggers?
Can we sit on our hands any longer while minorities–particuarly those of color are locked out of the system? Or forced to sit at the back of the blogging community bus?

Open left is a big step in the right direction, but a vivid chasm exists.
Answering and actively taking dramatic steps in this direction is, in my humble opinion, the only way to avoid claims of being the “new boss” or passively exclusionary. Can we claim to be be different otherwise? Can we claim to be big-tent progressives otherwise?

Actually, I’m kinda curious what minority bloggers have to think about this…whats their take…..

I’m impressed by an organization thats willing to be open and honest like this and is willing to make substantive changes to attempt to address the issue. I really think that the effort to start a conversation like this speaks alot about the very marrow of the organization. Open source communication seems the most ethical and effective way we have to deal with the problems we face as individuals and as communities. I hope other organizations take the lead in creating conversations which might seem initially risky, but stop infectious dust from being swept under the rug. Any thoughts? What do you think about a big tent mentality?


Leave a Comment
  1. aweekinthelifeofaredhead / Aug 3 2007 9:59 pm

    Exclusion as to what? Exclusion from Political bloggers…? I am a female blogger – started blogging before there were many women, just like I was an older female techie before that. Add in the fact that I am a single mom doing it all on my own and exactly how has my “minority” status held me back? Only as far as I would allow. We are all in control of our lives and I don’t care what the odds are … no one is making me into a victim by all this “minority status” crap.

  2. compassioninpolitics / Aug 4 2007 2:19 am

    Interesting perspective. Thanks for voicing it. I probably should have clarified my statements earlier. The statements primarily focused on the netroots—progressive democratic political blogs.
    Non-minority blogs in the netroots community are more well read and linked to, which means minorities, particularly racial minorities get left behind. There are exceptions, for instance Firedoglake and the blogger Digby, being the notable exceptions. Also, Afro-netizen and Oliver Willis both have successful blogs. I

    I think the example you bring to the table is very noteworthy. An attitude that says I can reach excellence and never give up can achieve amazing heights, despite inequality and injustice.
    The recent movie Pride focused on the sport struggles of an African-American swim team that called themselves “PDR” to mean “Pride, determination, and resilience.” The team is forced to grip with blatant racial inequalities and insults during an earlier period in our national history.

    I think the model of Blogher is also instructive. The Blogher Conference 2007 just met this July. I believe this was its third annual conference.

    Alternatively, a recent Washington Post article in the wake of the historical CNN/You Tube debates in late July spoke to the issue of the digital divide in America, drawing on research from the Pew Center:

    And though a study released last month by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that broadband use among African American adults increased from 14 percent in 2005 to 40 percent this year, blacks continue to lag behind whites and English-speaking Latinos.

    There is a 6 minute viral video on YouTube called Shift Happens available at ( I highly recommend it for an informative introduction to what our society will likely look like in terms of technology, economics, and inequality. All important, pressing social issues today and for tomorrow’s generation.

  3. compassioninpolitics / Aug 4 2007 2:23 am

    Actually, Shift Happens 2.0 is available here in an 8 minute version (

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