Gender, race, age, and power in online discussions, chapter n +1 (DRAFT)

DRAFT! Still under revision!

First draft July 26; substantial revisions August 2.

Originally written as a three-part conclusion to

Gender, race, age, and power in online discussions, chapter n

Introduction

The “mutual guest-blogging” project I’ve been leading on OpenLeft has been taking place in the context of a surprising amount of coverage of diversity issues in the blogosphere in the mainstream media recently. Articles like Amy Alexander’s The Color Line Online: Minority Bloggers Fight Inequality in The Nation and Karen Jesella’s Blogging’s Glass Ceiling in the New York Times (nicely analyzed by PhysioProf in Teh Laydeez Are So Cute When They Try To Blog on Feministe) are the highest-profile treatments I’ve seen of this topic since Jose Antonio Vargas’ A Diversity of Opinion, if not of Opinionators in the Washington Post a year ago.

It’s also come up in a broader context in stories like Jose’s Liberal Bloggers Brace for Victory in the Washington Post, and Kirsten Powers’ Net-roots Ninnies: Dem’s Left Dum Bam Slams in the New York Post.* As Kirsten, who’s also a Fox News reporter, says:

Newsflash to the netroots and the media (which seems perpetually confused on this issue): The netroots are not the base of the Democratic Party.

Overwhelmingly white, male and highly educated, they’re a loud anomaly in a party that’s wholly dependent on the votes of African Americans, women and working-class whites.

Not everybody sees it that way. Chris Bowers’ OpenLeft post The Myth Of The Non-Diverse Netroots, for example, presents a different perspective.  (See Is netroots non-diversity a myth?, as well as my responses in Chris’ thread, for my opinion.)   In the aftermath of the nastiness with race and gender we’ve seen so far this election year, with the McCain campaign and New Yorker throwing gasoline on the fire on the race and gender front and a lot of Democrats doing their best to get equally nasty about the age dimension, it’s certainly a good discussion to be having.

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Mutual guest blogging: intermission and discussion

Second draft, posted on OpenLeft with a different poll.

the version on OpenLeft continues to evolve

please link and comment there rather than here.

Originally posted July 17; revised July 18-19.

We’re now at the midpoint of our first, more-leisurely-than-anticipated mutual guest blogging series. Thanks to Melissa, Sara, Pam, and rikyrah for their time, energy, and extraordinary posts. In retrospect, our original plan of getting all the posts on OpenLeft and the mutual posts on the guest bloggers’ blogs all in one week was a little over-ambitious. Oh well, live and learn.

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A proposal for OpenLeft: mutual guest-blogging

Update, June 14: posted on OpenLeft.

Update, June 21: first round on track for week of June 30!

Thanks to all for the feedback and review!

We propose that OpenLeft feature 5-7 guest bloggers each week, prioritizing diverse voices and perspectives not usually heard on the front page. OpenLeft front page posters will reciprocate, by blogging on the guests’ sites, and the combination will (with luck) create a temporary hub in the progressive blogosphere. The result is improved mutual understanding, links with other tightly-connected networks, and a base for more collaborative and effective strategic actions.

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“Where do you get your political news?”

when reading blogs, make a point to get a range of perspectives, starting with those that are shut out from the mainstream news.

Reviewing an earlier draft of Allies in the blogosphere, one of my friends asked me for more details on this. Rather than bury it in an comment, I figured that it was worth a thread of its own — because that’ll also give me a chance to ask others the same question.

As an experiment, for the last year I’ve been getting virtually all of my political news online, mostly avoiding newspapers, magazines, and TV. At first I’d start out each day by checking Google News, the New York Times, and a few blogs on specific topics, like Juan Cole’s Informed Comment on Iraq. Then I added Yahoo! News (which gets feeds from Huffington Post and Real Clear Politics as well as CNN). This gave me some different perspectives and a few more stories but it was still pretty limited.

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Allies in the blogosphere

There’s so much to write about for Angry Black Woman’s Carnival of Allies that it’s hard to know where to start. At first I thought of focusing on “why the usual excuses are not good enough.” As the month of April went on, though, with brownfemipower’s and Blackamazon’s final statements, the growing list of women of color bloggers rejecting the term “feminism”, prof bw’s call for a Seal Press girlcott, open letters to white feminists from Jessica Hoffman and Ico … I realized that after all that, if anybody is still clinging to the usual excuses, it’s almost certainly beyond my power to reach them.

So I started working on an essay building on the discussion in places like Melissa McEwan et al’s We write letters on Shakesville, Chris Clarke’s Is a humane online politics possible, and Theriomorph’s An ally 101 thread. not currently publicly available

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Supreme Court Legalizes Voter Suppression

The headline’s from Project Vote’s post on OpenLeft, which also has a great quote from their board member Donna Massey:

The real purpose of strict photo voter ID rules is to make it more difficult for some Americans to vote. It’s the voters who are less likely to vote who are also less likely to have government issued ID, such as young people, the poor, elderly, and Americans of color. A University of Washington study, for example, found that in Indiana 22 percent of African-American voters lack proper identification compared to 16 percent of white voters. Twenty-one percent of voters earning less than $40,000 a year lack the necessary ID compared to just 13 percent of those earning more than $40,000. All Americans have a right to vote, even if they don’t have a photo ID.

SCOTUSblog has the details on the 6-3 decision.

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“9.5 Theses for Technology Policy in the Next Administration”

On the CFP08 blog, Laura DeNardis of the Yale Internet and Society Project writes:

To help shape public debate in this election year, the Information Society Project at Yale Law School recommends the following policy principles – The 9.5 Theses for Technology Policy in the Next Administration

The principles include Privacy, Access, Network Neutrality, Transparency, Culture, Diversity, and Openness.  The intent here is that these are starting points for a discussion; threads between now and CFP will delve into the individual principles, and I’ve already put them up on the wiki to allow for revision.

There’s certainly a lot of good stuff here.  Since at this stage we’re trying to get the conversation started, I’ve instead been focusing on some areas I thought had room for improvement, for example asking in a comment*

why does diversity mention only media concentration, and ignore the general dynamic in which marginalized groups (women, persons of color, those on the wrong side of the digital divide … the list goes on) have been excluded from discussions like these?

It’s an interesting discussion so far; please check it out and join in!

jon

* the actual comment I left there had a few typos as well; I fixed them here.

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A Carnival of Allies

From The Angry Black Woman:

I call a Carnival. The Carnival of Allies. Where self-identified allies write to other people like themselves about why this or that oppression and prejudice is wrong. Why they are allies. Why the usual excuses are not good enough. I figure allies probably know full well all the many and various arguments people throw up to make prejudice and oppression okay. Things that someone on the other side of the fence may not hear. Address those things and more besides.

And when I say allies, I’m talking about any and every type. PoC can be (and should be) allies to other PoC, or to LGBTQ people if they are straight, or any number of other combinations. If you feel like you’re an ally and have something to say about that, you should submit to this carnival.

More, and a submission form, in Allies Talking.  Deadline is May 5, and she’ll be posting the links in the second or third week of May.  It’s a subject I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, so I’ll almost certainly be writing something … I encourage others to as well.

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Intersectionality 2.0

I’ve been working on a couple a potential proposal a keynote for this year’s Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference related to the topic of intersectionality and social networks. Here’s an overview:

Since first being developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1970s, theories of intersectionality have become a powerful lens for examining questions of race and gender. In the interim, advances in network theory have shown the importance of intersectional hubs; and research in cognitive diversity and problem solving have highlighted the unique contributions of those at the intersections. Does the recent development of social computing technologies, allowing “micro-niche” generation of content as well as enabling people to participate more easily in multiple online social networks, point to new approaches for valuing and leveraging intersectionality? And what does this imply about technology policy in a web 2.0 world?

To explore this area, I propose an joint keynote session (perhaps over lunch or dinner), featuring an expert on intersectionality and an expert on social networking. Crenshaw herself, currently at UCLA law school, would be ideal for the intersectionality expert [unconfirmed; if she’s not available, there are many excellent alternatives]. From the social networking perspective, researchers such as TL Taylor, danah boyd, Joi Ito, and Clay Shirky who explicitly consider questions of race and gender would be good choices.

Thoughts? As always, critiques, suggestions and feedback welcome!

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When I’m right, I’m right: Geraldine Ferraro and “The day after”

Geraldine FerraroThe Obama campaign’s response to Geraldine Ferraro’s attack perfectly illustrates several things I talked about last week in The day after. Campaign strategist David Axelrod emphasizes the pattern:

Axelrod said Ferraro’s comments were part of a “pattern” of negative attacks aimed at Obama. He pointed to Clinton’s former New Hampshire co-chairman Bill Shaheen, who questioned whether Obama ever sold drugs; supporter Rober Johnsen, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, who raised the specter of Obama’s past drug use; and Clinton’s own “unwillingness” to “definitively” shoot down rumors that Obama was Muslim in an interview this month.

[All of these, and others, are documented on the Clinton attacks Obama wiki. See, I knew it would be important :-)]

Susan Rice brings up a variant of the “reject and denounce” standard:

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The day after: a work in progress on “narrative through the lens of strategy

A few teasers:

With aid of what they describe as “the kitchen sink,” the Clinton campaign came out tactically slightly ahead: somewhere between four and ten delegates out of the 370 in play. Kudos to them. Even so, yesterday’s results are almost exactly what the Obama campaign had projected a month ago, a likely +3 or +4 over projections in Texas balanced by a likely -2 or -3 in Ohio. The Obama campaign continues to have a huge cushion: 120 pledged delegates over their early-February projections. With less time for a Clinton turnaround, Obama’s strategic advantage has grown … guess they were prepared for the kitchen sink, or something like it.

The Clinton campaign’s potential role in the Obama-in-Somali-garb photo will call attention to the earlier “Obama is a Muslim” email from Clinton staffers, the series of racially charged attacks documented on the Clinton attacks Obama wiki and elsewhere, and the Clinton campaign’s earlier “playing along” with Drudge. At the same time, the “denounce and reject” standard she proposed in the debate will get continued attention thanks to McCain and Lieberman’s welcoming of virulently anti-Catholic anti-LGBT anti-New Orleans anti-Palestinian (and anti-so-much-more) John Hagee’s support. How many volunteers, staffers, supporters will the Clinton campaign “denounce”? How many contributions will they reject?

From a strategy perspective, the Clinton campaign in desperation threw everything they could into March 4. (You can only align with Drudge, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and McCain so many times before voters and superdelegates start to ask whether this is good for the party — and there aren’t a lot of other friendly foreign governments they can call on these days.) At the cost of substantially damaging their campaign as well as their individual reputations, they managed to claw their way to an inconsequential and Pyrrhic “victory”. Mathematically, they’re now very close to elimination. Not a good result for the Clintons at all.

So, while it’s not over and anything can happen, once all the hard work is done and the votes are counted, I predict that March 4 will be seen as the day that the voters in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont — and the grassroots volunteers for Obama all around the country and the world — virtually assured Barack Obama’s nomination as Democratic party’s candidate for President of the United States of America.

Read on for the full essay. Feedback and discussion welcome!

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“An experiment in community information gathering”

I thought the Clinton Attacks Obama wiki was a great idea the first time I heard about it, and it’s steadily grown since then.  Here’s the welcome message:

This is an experiment in community information gathering. My name is Baratunde Thurston. I’m a comedian, writer and social media junkie. As a contributor for Jack & Jill Politics, I’ve seen the strong black community reaction to what looks like a pattern of race-themed attacks against Obama by Bill, Hillary and other members of her campaign. As folks have questioned the number and validity of these incidents, I thought I’d put together a place to keep track of them.

Blog posts are not good places to keep a running list, and I’m too busy to do it all by myself, so like a multinational corporation, I’m outsourcing this bad boy.

Not only does opening it up to the community means that sources any one person would miss keep flowing in, it’s an excellent use of the automatic list generation features available on most wikis, too.  Seeing the list of race-themed attacks that are being flung around really highlights how extensive the pattern is.  Baratunde’s also the Jack of Jack and Jill Politics (blogging as Jack Turner), and his The Clintons, Black folks, and America — a Reckoning gives some great perspectives that don’t usually make it into mainstream coverage.

The wiki’s starting to get some press attention and this’ll probably steadily increase, no matter whether or not the attacks stop.   And deservedly so: the general technique is something that supporters of candidates from any party can use to surface repeated uses of code words or images as part of smear campaigns.   Swiftboating will be a lot harder this year …

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