Monday, May 10, 2010

Blackosphere &. Whitosphere: Silence is Never Golden

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Also discussed at:

Cross-posted at

Also see this article and the self-described white Jewish official and white community responses to this article at MyDD, where this article was first published, and where African-American attorney Francis L. Holland was subsequently banned from participation.

Matt Stoller of MyDD opened a compelling dialogue a few days ago by asking whether it was necessary for Blacks and whites (and I would add women and other sociological minorities) to frequent the same blogs in order for the Democratic Party to maximize Party chances for electoral success.
Matt said,
Now first I'm going to address this community about our culture.  Most MyDD readers are comfortable within what I call 'Jewish political culture', which is a very individualistic, progressive style of argumentative discourse . . .  There are lots of other cultures out there, and lots of other ways of thinking about the world.  These represent themselves online, but they don't necessarily represent themselves here.  Does it matter that they don't?  Maybe.  Maybe not. 12/293#commenttop
Because the phrase "divide and conquer" is such a fundamental part of our political parlance,  it ought not be necessary to argue, as I do, that a political party whose communication is divided by a color line will necessarily be less successful than a party that communicates across lines of color. So, the short to Matt's question is, "Yes, blog apartheid within the Democratic Party does reduce Democrats' chances for electoral success.
If in 2008 Black people and Latinos fail to vote in sufficient numbers for the Democratic presidential candidate to win Florida and Ohio, then whites will hypothesize endlessly about the "cultural" reasons for Blacks failure to vote.  Whites may not ever consider that they simply exercised their majority power within the Party to nominate a candidate whom Blacks and Latinos really did not like very much.  Although Black people always vote reliably and overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, our turnout and, therefore, the election results often depend upon the degree of Blacks enthusiasm for the candidate chosen by the Party.

If the Party chooses a candidate whom we do not like, Black activists within the Party find it all the more difficult to mobilize Black voters.  So, when you hear Black voters say that a proposed candidate is "just another white [man]", this ought, logically, to give you pause.If Blacks cannot express our opinions to whites about the proposed Democratic candidates by participating at Democratic blogs, then where can we express to white Democrats what we think and feel about the proposed candidates?

It's true that we can clam up and wait to express ourselves in the voting booths during primary elections, but if - out of simple ignorance of our wishes, the white majority of Democrats nominates a candidate for whom Blacks simply have no enthusiasm, then the next best way to express ourselves is by letting your candidate die in the fires of white Democrats' electoral hubris when the final election arises.

This is why, when Blacks and whites and Latinos support is needed to elect Democrats, an "I'll see you in court" approach to selecting candidates does not benefit the Democratic Party.  "I'll see you in court!" is something people say AFTER making an attempt to communicate with each other in an open and civil fashion.  To the extent that this attitude dominates the Democratic Party, the Republican Party will be the chief beneficiary.

Whites increasingly communicates amongst each other about candidates at whitosphere blogs, just as we Blacks do at our Blackosphere blogs.  If our blogs are not the place for for us also to communicate across color lines, aware of and determined to bridge our differences for the sake of the common good, then where, by God, in segregated America, will this communication occur?  If whites choose or permit themselves to communicate at blogs that are segregated, it can only be because they do not really value Black and Latino political participation in all it most obvious potential forms.  If so, then such whites do not deserve our participation and they can go to . . . to the polls doubting whether Blacks and Latinos will participate in the necessary numbers.

I am not the only Black who feels this way as a result of the de facto blogger apartheid practiced at prominent "progressive" whitosphere blogs.

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With some trepidation, because I have not cleared it with him, I am going to quote something that I read at the Field Negro website.  The Black blogger comments on my use at MyDD of the terms "whitosphere" and "blogger apartheid", and on original graphic I prepared to capture the objective demographic truth of Blacks' experience at white "progressive blogs", that DailyKos is 2.5% Black while MyDD is 1.5% black according to internal polls at these blogs. /12568/75943 The Black blogger somewhat angrily disagrees with my assertion that more Black and white interaction in the blogosphere is necessary and desirable:
Mr. Holland seems to be screaming for more black inclusion in the Whitosphere, and more black links to sites like Daily Kos and My DD etc. This is where my man and I tend to part company. I personally could give a f**k whether My DD or Daily Kos, or any of the other so called white progressive blogs link me or even include me in their discussion. Honestly, their issues aren't my issues. I know they have very strong political beliefs and are tied to the democratic party and it's leaders, but not me, and this is going to surprise some people. But I would just as soon vote for a republican over a democrat if I thought he had my people's best interest at heart. So I really don't give a f--k which party a particular politician belongs to. The reason I happen to despise most republicans is that they just happen to be the most f - - - d up when it comes to matters of race. But don't get it twisted, some democrats are f -- - d up too. And I will never walk lock step with any one party. NEVER!
This is what separates me from the Daily Kos My DD crowd, and what I think ultimately might separate me from people who are crying for inclusion.Call me a separatist, but I am more proud to be linked to sites like Skeptical Brotha, Freeslave, and Mirror On America than to the more popular progressive white sites like Kos, My DD, and their ilk. And for the record, I have links to white sites on my blog as well. -My man konagod and the aforementioned My DD comes to mind- so I guess I am not such a separatist after all.
I am glad Mr. Holland raised this subject, it needed to be addressed. My position on this is pretty clear, but I understand the opposite school of thought: We should try to learn about each other, and from a political standpoint, it benefits the democratic party to get a feed back from it's most reliable constituents. But you can't force inclusion on people, I don't care how progressive they claim to be. We have given up on the republicans, because we realize that they have given up on us. Maybe we should take that position with the democrats as well. 
If nothing else is clear from that quote, it ought to be clear that blogger apartheid is making Black bloggers angry at white progressives.  They have all of the tools to blog, and they do so independently, but they have been marginalized in the whitosphere.

Blogger apartheid divides the Democratic blogosphere, and those who willfully engage in behavior that divides their own Party ought not be surprised when they find their Party conquered at the polls.  Blacks are angry at white unwillingness to engage in open communication on a level playing field within the whitosphere.
For example, a blog that does not have 20% links to the Blackosphere does not represent a Party where delegates to the Democratic National Convention are 20% black.

A blog with less than 20%-30% Black and Latino links insults necessary players and is engaging in <strong<negative</strong> communication and foreclosure of intraparty communication.  This can and will have consequences at the polls.  It ought to be clear that lack of communication does not pose merely a "threat" of negative consequences.  It is in itself a negative that cannot help but manifest itself in everything the Democratic Party says and does.

When whitosphere blogs ignore the First Amendment to the US Constitution and implement blog rules in which white members decide what Blacks will be permitted to say, then whites eviscerate the Constitutional protections for free speech on which minority/majority communication depends.  Just as between whites, if Blacks cannot say things that whites don't like in the context of a political discussion, then there's no point in us communicating with whites at all.

Yet the whitosphere lacks the fundamental Constitutional guarantees that make open discussion possible in a pluralistic society.  As in Apartheid South Africa, Blacks (and others) can be permanently banned from expressing themselves in the whitosphere if we say things that whites really don't like.  As you can see from the above quote from the Field Negro site, most of what Blacks most need to say is things that whites least want to hear.  While some at MyDD chide me for using the term "whitosphere", other Blacks immediately adopt the term and my graphic because it expresses their own experience with white "progressives" management of the principal progressive whitosphere blogs.

Yet, literally ignoring Black opinion can only have negative consequences.  Consider for example the case of white progressive's love for John Edwards and Al Gore.  The 2000 election should have taught us that every vote will be needed in 2008, since Al Gore was cheated out of electoral victory in Florida by less than 700 votes.  In 2008, can the Democratic Party afford to nominate a white male candidate whom (unlike Bill Clinton) Blacks simply don't like, while passing over highly qualified candidates for whom Blacks and Latinos are genuinely enthusiastic?  Of course, Blacks supported Gore overwhelmingly but, to the degree that additional Black votes would have helped, more of an effort was needed to give them a reason to vote.  More coordination was needed to assure that Blacks could vote and that our votes would be counted.

Without discussing the issue at all with Blacks, Latinos and women, it would be easy for white men in isolation to believe that John Edwards' "two America's" dichotomy captures our sense of disenfranchisement and will play well with Black and Latinos.  Yet the opposite is true and the polls are telling us that.  If there were more Blacks and Latinos in the whitosphere, whites would realize that the John Edwards "two Americas" appeal, far from appealing, leaves us cold and resentful.

Most of white America  mistakenly believes that Blacks are the principal beneficiaries of programs designed to end poverty, which is why Ronald Reagan was able to mobilize white anger against welfare programs in the 1980's.  A Democratic candidate who founds his electoral appeal on his desire to help the poor necessarily will alienate some of those voters who fled the Democratic Party to support Ronald Reagan.

So, if forces in the Democratic Party want to make a poverty-based appeal now, they had better make sure that at least the poor within the Democratic Party are in support of those anti-poverty ideas.  Some whitosphere progressives insist that John Edwards can help to alleviate the "two Americas" division of America, but I steadfastly insist that supporting John Edwards perpetuates the status quo.  And this is one example of where white "progressives" really need to listen to what Black people are saying.

Supporting John Edwards Perpetuates the Status Quo
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You can't end the monarchy by supporting the king, and you can't end the political, economic and social disenfranchisement of women and Blacks ("the poor") by electing another wealthy white male as President of the United States.

If you think about it, the most fundamental aspect of the status quo throughout American history has been the literal and figurative disenfranchisement of Black voters and women. They could not hold electoral office and they never have held the highest office in the land because white men ALWAYS have arrogated that office unto themselves, sometimes with the complicity of white women.

If you define the status quo as "the continuing disenfranchisement of those who historically were denied the right to vote and hold elective office", it becomes clear that the election of John Edwards to the Presidency - another white male in a string of 43 consecutive white males - would constitute the clearest possible reaffirmation of the status quo. Once again, women and Black candidates would be passed over with the effect of perpetuating the 43-term exclusively white male monopoly of the US Presidency.

Perpetuating the status quo and perpetuating the social, economic and political disenfranchisement of Blacks and women.  Much more so than the majority white male blogosphere, women, Blacks and Latinos agree that ending the white male monopoly of the presidency is a fundamental goals in 2008.

So, electing Edwards to challenge the status quo is like supporting a king to challenge the monarchy or integrating an all-white male club by adding more all-white male club members.
It is possible that electing yet another white man to the Presidency will end the poverty of the historically disenfranchised, with John Edwards serving as a "pass through" for those who have historically been disincluded legally and by custom. But this is a very convoluted way of achieving what could be achieved much more directly by electing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Of course, ending disenfranchisement is not the only goal of the Presidency, but it is John Edwards' raison d' être, which is why electing Hillary and Barack is the best way to achieve the goal that John Edwards espouses. /02/supporting-edwards-perpetuates-statu s.html
Whites who insist on supporting John Edwards ought not imagine that Edwards' anti-poverty appeals will bring out the votes of Blacks, Latinos or disenfranchised women.

We do not want or need John Edwards to act as a pass through for our participation in the democratic system.  We want to participate directly, ourselves, for the first time in American history, on the Democratic ticket itself.  And that is why the "two Americas" appeals falls flat when coming from wealthy white male John Edwards.

It's no secret that Blacks and Latinos overwhelmingly favor Hillary Clinton and, to a lesser degree right now, Barack Obama.  Women, too, are the majority of the Democratic Party and polls show that they favor the liberal Democratic woman in the presidential race by a significant margin.
As Ebony Magazine reported in May 1993,
IT'S the hottest story to come out of Washington since Bill Clinton broke the 12-year Republican lock on the White House. For the first time in history, four African-Americans--Ron Brown, Mike Espy, Jesse Brown and Hazel O'Leary--will hold seats in the president's cabinet. That's the largest number of Black cabinet officials ever. Just how significant are these appointments? Never before has a president appointed so many Blacks to the highest ranks of the executive branch. In fact, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, since Lyndon Johnson became the first president to appoint an African-American to his cabinet in 1966, the number of Black cabinet officials in any administration has never exceeded one. One. But it isn't just the unparalleled increase in number that makes Clinton's selections so historic. Never before has a Black American headed any of these departments: not Commerce, not Agriculture, not Energy, not Veterans Affairs. What's more, with the appointment of Clifton Wharton Jr. as the No. 2 man at the State Department, Black America has achieved yet another historic first.
In the cozy cacoon of the primarily male and overwhelmingly white blogosphere, it is possible to imagine that only white males' opinions will count, because they will decide through progressive machinations whom the Democratic presidential candidate will be, overwhelm our objections in the primaries, and then the rest of us will accept their hegemonic judgment in November 2008.

This is not going to happen.I appeal to the whitosphere to listen now and commit yourselves to sharing every instrument of the Party, facilitation communication, coordination and unity by openly inviting and accepting all members of the party into every organ of the whitosphere, regardless of gender, skin, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin and sexual orientation.  I appeal to you to look to the founding documents of our nation - including the US the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - for guidance in terms of how to maintain the integrity of a assemblage that has to meet the needs of diverse people, fundamentally by providing everyone an inalienable right to speak their peace.

The "banning" of people for legitimate but disfavored political speech has come to an end in South Africa. "Banning" - a political tool used for so long to silence the disenfranchised Black majority under the South Africa apartheid system - should never have been revived at American "progressive" whitosphere blogs; Among people who depend upon each others' active and engaged participation, "silence is never golden".

The Iraq War and the impending Iran war represent victories of a white man determined not to speak with those brown people with whom he disagrees even though the alternative is to resolve through open war the disagreements which he refuses to resolve through open discussion.  It is ironic, but not surprising, that the same white male "progressives" who oppose Bush's war in Iraq should prefer his communication style in the blogosphere of America.

It will not be easy for whites and Blacks to overcome resentments and resistances to collaborate with one another through blogs.  No one can force white "progressives" to assume the challenges of diversity within the whitosphere, just as no one can force Blacks, Latinos and women to enthusiastically support white male progressives' candidates at the polls.

Cross-posted at

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