WaPo Article on YearlyKos and Inclusion


(cross-posted at Jack & Jill Politics under "Jack Turner")

Jose Antonio Vargas at the Washington Post filed a story about "diversity" at the YearlyKos convention titled "A Diversity of Opinion, if Not Opinionators."

I wish there were more time for the story to get into some of the deeper stuff, but it's a good start. Jose met with several of us at the convention, and we got into a wide-ranging discussion about how uncomfortable the subject of YearlyKos's "whiteness" is to many of its white attendees, the mob popularity inherent in linking (top of the long tail, if you will) which prioritizes more "mainstream" issues over those of concern to people of color and the ways in which the "blackroots" may not have been widely represented at the conference but has grown tremendously in the past year online.

Vargas writes:

Everyone agrees it's a problem, yet no one is sure how to address it. Historically, the progressive movement has included a myriad of special-interest and single-issue groups, and the challenge has always been to find common ground. The same is true on the Internet, but with an added twist. The Internet, after all, is not a "push" medium like television, where information flows out, but a "pull" medium, where people are drawn in.
This is not quite true. "Everyone" didn't agree it was a problem. Jane Hamsher, who was among those of us interviewed, pointedly remarked that she didn't see a large problem. I'd characterize her position as "if you write it, they will come." Her point seemed to be that all will be included in the discussion if they write, write, write. In fact, her interview in a recent Mother Jones article makes her viewpoint quite clear:

MJ: Do you think that women are adequately represented in the blogosphere?

JH: On the whole, it is men who read blogs. But I think it's a meritocracy. My blog has a much higher percentage of women readers than any other major blog, and I've never found this to be a problem for myself. If your writing is good, they will come. You have to put in the time to figure out how the blogosphere works. If you're willing to do that, I don't think being female is any barrier. In fact, I think it's an advantage at this point. The A-list bloggers are hungry and looking to give exposure to women who write really well. Most of those criticisms of male A-list bloggers shutting out women-I really don't have any other word to call it except just "bullshit."
The most interesting quote in Vargas's article to me is the last one, by Matt Stoller, about the pioneering role folks of color have played in alternative media.

"It's important to remember that African American and Latinos already had their alternative media before white progressive bloggers like me organized on the Web," says Stoller late Saturday morning. "It's also important to remember that this movement is still young. It's still not that advanced, it's still building coalitions, it's still maturing."

Black and brown folks may not play by exactly the same rules as those established by the mainstream netroots. Liza Sabater, for example, continually raises the point that we access the web differently (primarily via mobile phones). Stoller's point is on point as well. Publications like The Afro-American, Ebony, Essence, Jet, etc. were revolutionary, and it seems to me that we're building in the same spirit online from our Afro-Netizens to our Crunk and Disorderlies.

Definitely check out the rest of the story, and comment back!