March 08, 2005

Color or Content?

In a comment to the post below, Nichelle left a link to Color or Content, a gathering in NYC in April to discuss issues around race and blogging.

This is the kind of 'event' that interests me because it is NOT like every other stinking Northeast or west-coast conference about blogging featuring the GODS of BECAUSE WE SAY SO, who, without pause, have allowed U.S.-based conference after conference about media, journalism, CREDIBILITY, and blogging -- invitation only events -- take place WITHOUT inviting bloggers of color, especially black and brown American bloggers.

It's wrong. It's embarrassing. It has made me question what some of the people I thought I liked online are really about. Seriously. Are the white men of technology, business, and academia still that threatened? Because if not, it means they're just that stupid.

So, Good for Nichelle and others for raising the Color or Content question. If I can get up to NY, I will. It would have to be a family trip, but if George has business in NY in April, it could happen. I wish it were a bit further out--but, hopefully this will be a first, not a last, gathering like this.

Incidentally, I really like the post by Chris Raab that Nichelle references. It tackles these issues and presents them in the words of someone who has directly experienced the mainstream conference homogeony first hand:

They weren't ready to walk the talk. And that's okay, as long as they admit it (to themselves) their inconsistencies. The same holds true for the event's organizers, panel and audience. Walk the talk or STFU. Seriously though, in any enlightened group, most folks would have failed the "smell test".

When the older drunk white guy started to heckle the crowd for having only one Black person in the audience (his wife), someone retorted that there was a "Spanish guy back here". Indeed, there was one Latino in attendance. And yet, I still didn't feel all warm and gooey inside by this veritable parade of ethnicity.

If diversity and inclusiveness were truly important to the organizers of this event, the panel and audience would have averred this. Clearly, it did not.

If the whitefolk in the audience who I made uncomfortable truly believed in inclusiveness, they would commit to doing something -- anything -- to address the segregation which they in part help maintain by their complacency. In other words, they would have to take a leap into the unknown -- that is, real diversity, where the majority of people of color in their presence are of the same or higher social status.

And it is indeed a leap. Woody Allen and the cast of 'Friends' aren't the only New Yorkers who can experience a white Manhattan, if they wish to. The fact of the matter is that most white people live in a segregated world of their own making, and the only thing keeping them from jumping into the mix is the will to do so. Maybe before Google, I'd cut my white compatriots with no Black friends or acquaintances some slack. But, damn, just Google "blackfolk" and "Manhattan" and if you don't come up with something germane within 5 minutes, you're either an imbecile or full of shit.

So, my solicited suggestion to these two young white guys was: Leave your comfort zone. I did so by jumping on a freakin' train in arctic conditions to participate in a panel amidst a virtually all white audience to talk about something that assuredly would not have been meaningfully addressed had I not gotten off my ass and participated. In fact, I even joined a group of whitefolk afterward for dinner at a German restaurant. (I didn't even go to a German restaurant when I visited Berlin!) So, no one can say that I didn't practice what I preached.

Do I think that most whitefolk will heed my bitchy intonations? Nope. But if I just reach one privileged white person a year through 2008, I will have exceed my lifetime community service quota. Besides with the advent of the blogosphere, whitefolk who have not yet drummed up the will or courage to interact with their colored counterparts can at least eaves-drop on us by reading our blogs. That way you don't have to pay Amtrak $80 like I did to leave the comfort zone of your web browser's bookmarks.

Nichelle mentions others who are attending the Color or Content gathering:


Ron Taylor

EJ Flavors

Hip-Hop Blogs

All About George