Q & A on the DNC’s Virtually All-White Floor Blog Corps
How did the criteria convince Black bloggers that they would be deemed ineligible for the Democratic National Convention floor blog accreditation? The rules that were recently developed stated that Technorati ratings would be used to determine the ONE blog which had the largest audiences in each state. Blacks are not stupid. We knew that the single most visited state blog in any state was likely to be a white blog, and not our blogs, in any case.
In a segregated blogosphere, where white blogs mostly do not link to Black blogs, how could or would a Black blog become the most visited state blog in any majority-white state? One need only read the link lists of white blogs to conclude that many white bloggers do not value the information (e.g. about Black voters) and views to which Black bloggers have access. So, we blog not because white people read our blogs, but because Black voters do.
The most likely scenario was always that a majority white blog would be the most visited blog in a majority white state, particularly since the blogosphere is segregated, as Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post observed in an article last year. So, Blacks knew that, based simply on numerical probability under these rules, we had as much chance of being selected for the floor bloggers corps as we had of being elected to the US Senate in a majority white state.
It was virtually impossible that a Black blog in any US State would be the one that captured the highest Technorati ratings in a majority white state. Again, this is analogous to the at large selection of US Senators that has resulted in a 99% white US Senate. The “deck was clearly stacked,” so Black bloggers decided not to bet at all.
The rules developed by the DNC, with white bloggers selected in states on an at-large basis, in the same way that US Senators are selected at large, based on the votes of the white majority, was bound to produce the same level of diversity that there is in the US Senate. 1% Black.
Why might few Black bloggers have applied to be floor bloggers, if in fact this is the case? The very criteria that were developed and announced by the DNC convinced Black bloggers not to apply for the floor blogger position, so we may not find very many Black bloggers applied to be floor bloggers. (We should ask the DNC for the names of all Black bloggers who applied for floor blogger and general pool status. I am going to make that request today, and there is no reason except for a guilty conscience for them to refuse to make it available.)Why isn’t the model that governs elections to the US Senate good enough for selecting state bloggers for the Democratic National Convention? The rules that govern election to the US Senate were developed in the first part of the last century, when whites were not concerned about structuring American society in a way that would allow Blacks to participate. However, the rules that govern the floor blogger status were developed last year and should have reflected a more modern understanding that diverse participation is desirable and necessary, particularly if Black bloggers are to help get the vote out among Black voters.
Did white rule-makers and selection personnel’s attitudes toward Blacks’ blogs play a role in the selection rules, the selection criteria, and the selection result? If you added to all of this Black bloggers’ awareness that many white bloggers don’t think Black blogs are worth linking to, citing or visiting, it did not take a Black rocket scientist to conclude that, under these rules, whites’ discrimination made it virtually impossible that any Black blogs would be selected for the DNC floor bloggers corps.
Take New Mexico, for example. New Mexico is 44% Latino and 10% Native American and STILL a white blog was chosen over a Latino blog that applied for floor status. So, what numerical chance would Blacks blogs stand if they were in a state that was only 10% or 20% Black?
Why do we need Black blogs on the floor of the Convention at all? Blogs are directed toward demographic constituencies and represent the interests and concerns of particular demographic constituencies, with some blogs addressing issues in ways that are of more concern to Blacks, and other blogs addressing issues in ways that whites deem more relevant. Since we are talking about elections, the purpose of blogging has to be informing the public about politics and encouraging the public, including the diverse constituencies of the Democratic Party, to participate. This goal cannot be achieved without Black bloggers’ participation.
Could an all-white DNC floor bloggers corp hurt the image and public relations and the “brand” of the Democratic Party? For an entire week in August, during which the historic activities of the Democratic Party will be publicized nation-wide and world-wide, an all-white floor bloggers corps would send a clear message to America and the world that some officials within the Democratic Party are no more interested in integration now than they were when Gov. Orvil Faubus attempted to block the doors of Little Rock High School, to maintain strict exclusion of Blacks based on skin color.
What is needed to rectify this situation so that the DNC floor blogs corps will not be all-white? What is required here is a recognition by the DNC that Blacks represent an important demographic constituency which fact, in turn, requires the development of blogger selection rules that make it possible for the blogs most valued by Blacks for their political and electoral content to be included within the blogger pool. Otherwise, only white constituencies will be addressed by an all-white state blogger pool.
Isn’t it too late to change floor blogger selection rules? No, it is not. The DNC can and should increase the number of floor bloggers by a number sufficient to guarantee that Black blogs will be represented among floor blogs to the same extent that the Party hopes and expects that Blacks will be represented among voters in November.
Isn’t it good enough that the 53-55 white blogs that were chosen might bring some Blacks to the Convention on those blogs’ authority? No. It is not acceptable that the only way Blacks can participate is if we are invited by white blogs. In fact, that is deeply insulting and demeaning to a group that constitutes 20% of the Democratic Party voters.
The purpose of having Black participation among floor bloggers is not merely to have token Black faces present, who might represent and present the opinions of white blogs and who primarily blog to white audiences. The purpose of Black participation is to enable Black blogs and bloggers to provide information to and engage the Black readership from a uniquely Black perspective.
For this reason, it is not acceptable for white blogs to choose the Blacks who will participate and it is not accceptable for the Democratic Party to choose the Blacks who will participate without consultation with the Blacks who are the target audience of such blogging. We are not interested in and will not accept Clarence Thomas pseudo-Black bloggers in lieu of bloggers who have an established and reputable progressive voice in the political life of Black communities of the Democratic Party.
Are there Black bloggers willing and able to participate in Denver?In addition to the Blacks who have already applied for floor blogger status, groups such as the over 130-member AfroSpear and the Afrosphere Action Coalition should be requested to nominate additional Black bloggers to represent Blacks at the Democratic National Convention, when and if the DNC expresses a genuine willingness to permit the participation of Black bloggers, by requesting a list of Black bloggers available to participate.
Aren’t Black blogs requesting a preference that white blogs did not receive? No. White blogs were virtually assured by operation of the rules and criteria that they would not have to compete with Black or Latino blogs when applying for floor status, because it was virtually impossible under the rules for Black and Latino blogs to win. Black bloggers and Black America are requesting only what whites blogs received: a guarantee that Black blogs will be able to report to our constituencies from the conference in the same ways and to the same extent that whites are.
The author is editor of the Francis L. Holland Blog, the American Journal of Color Arousal (AMJCA) and the Truth About McCain blog.