Them-ish

Eteraz brought up a post of his up for discussion in the comments thread on Mundane Stress. My post spent some time discussing invisibility and marginalization; eteraz talks about Arianna Huffington’s blog:

Today, though, is different. Rather than reading the stories on her blog, I am struck by the faces of the people writing them. Faces I have long ignored. Their words I have devoured but whose actual visage I have cared nothing for. Yet, this is the post-literate age. We are as moved by images as we are by words. So here I am, moved by the faces of the Huffington writers. Why? One simple reason: they are all white. White as in white. Some milky, some pasty, some goetee’d, some mustachioed, some pretty, some bald. But: white.

And goes on to do a partial strawcount of Huffblog current posts and the Hufflblogroll, which is also white as in white:

Since this is the blogging world, I will leave the exhaustive survey to someone else. My methodology is very simple: does or does not the person have white skin. If they do, they are white. Now, to the implications: it appears that out of the 55 writers I looked at, 2 were not white. That’s right, coming in at a solid 0.3% of the Huffington Post population, the coloreds! Take a bow.

I agree that this is racism, and that it is not subtle. Eteraz goes on to note and explode three potential rebuttals to the charge of liberal and/or Democratic racism, none of which are terribly strong–they seem to boil down to, “They’re racist, too!” “Racism doesn’t exist,” “Racism doesn’t matter,” and “Racism doesn’t exist or matter.”

Eteraz spends some time talking about one particular minority group that is represented on the blogroll (at least, by an informal measure that might not be entirely reliable):

But the question is this: does the presence of a large number of Jews, who have historically been a minority in this country — a non-white minority to be exact — excuse the conclusions of my survey? You may disagree with me, but my surprising answer is: yes. While at first blush it is true that all the faces belong to white skinned people, in my book, due to the historical conditions under which Jews have lived in the United States, they are not white.

He further argues:

Marshall McLuhan, in a 1959 essay, “Myth and Mass Media,” put forth this idea. He wrote that “we live in a postliterate and electronic world, in which we seek images of collective postures of mind.” Thus, my problem with the white-appearance of Huffington’s blog isn’t with the fact that her writers are all white, but rather that they all look white.

I think you could also argue that the problem is that Jews are the only racial/ethnic/cultural minority represented in significant numbers.

(I’m about to make a race/sexual-orientation analogy; I hope it’s not offensive. I’m trying to elucidate some of the inter and intra-group dynamics wrt political representation, not equate oppressions.)

Say the Democratic party decided to appoint scads of cisgendered and cissexual gays and lesbians to incredibly prestigious positions. Say they went on a homo headhunt for the best, brightest, and gayest people to lead, both as candidates and organizers. Let’s just pretend.

Even after the Dems had just saturated their party with those queers, and maybe even gotten one into the Oval Office, I as a transsexual would still have reason to ask for specific inclusion and representation. Why? Well, cissexual and cisgendered gays and lesbians are queer, but they are not transsexuals.

They have experienced similar oppression, historical and current. There’s a strong tradition of political alliance and inclusive theory. Our communities overlap such that they have a greater likelihood of knowing transpeople. Gaymo-inclusive leadership would be better for transpeople than the exclusively heterosexual kind.

However, they would not experience transphobia directly, and therefore would not have a personal stake in ending it. They would be less likely to understand its complexities. For example, we would all agree that murder is bad, but they might not understand why it’s really important for the government to issue new passports rather than just drawing a line through the ‘M’ and writing ‘F’ alongside. And, simply because they’re human, they will pay more attention to the injustices that affect them.

Cisgendered and cissexual gay and lesbian groups do throw transpeople under the bus, because it sometimes serves their political interests, which can sometimes be separated from mine. The HRC just stopped actively fighting inclusion of “gender identity” in anti-discrimination legislation.

White liberal queers make the same mistake with regard to racism and queer hatred, and it’s just as obviously false. Different prejudice, different immediate experience, different political consciousness–and those disparities do permit ignorance and selfishness. They can be used to cynical political advantage, and they frequently result in limited political perspective.

I think that an analogy can be made here. Anti-semitism isn’t dead any more than any other kind of racism, but the two groups eteraz measured are not in the same place. For example, they aren’t both largely absent from Arianna Huffington’s blogroll. So while the appearance/representation argument is absolutely true, I think you could argue from common experience as well.

I should also note that all-the-same is a common aspect of tokenism and other forms of lip-service. If you start from the premise that basic acknowledgement is an imposition on and a huge favor from the dominant group, then making distinctions within a minority group is just absurd. “Them” should be more than enough; when pressed, members of Us will occasionally expand to, “them-ish,” “false them,” and “neo-them.” For example, I have never heard any complaints about vague and trivial distinctions like “Methodist” and “Unitarian,” nor ever seen anyone try to refer to all Christians as “Jesusists,” or whatever. Other religions aren’t so lucky. “People of color” connotes an important coalition, but it would be yet another example of racism to assume that anyone in that group could speak for everyone else.

31 comments for “Them-ish

  1. May 4, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    As a Jew who grew up in the Deep South (Louisiana) but now lives in California, I’m heartened to hear someone recognize Jews as a minority. Out here, I’m constantly told that the foundation for Position X or Y is a felt sense of white privilege–and while I admit that such privilege exists, I certainly don’t feel it. Or white. A decade or two of forceful reminders that I’m not took care of that. It is true, however, that in places like California the prejudice is nowhere near as pronounced–and I’m even willing to venture that it doesn’t exist at all…which is precisely the reason why I think there’s a real need to discuss individual cases, to build arguments from specific premises instead of generalizing wildly. Then again, people in California think the world ends about three hours east of Los Angeles, so I’m not surprised they’re so quick to discount my experiences in the South. (Which is also to say, obviously, that I don’t think this status should function merely as deference to historical wrongs.)

    All of this is a digression from your immediate point, and I’m sorry about that. I just encounter that argument so rarely that I’m enthused when I see it…and since I just finished teaching about 20 minutes ago, I’m still in pedagogical mode.

  2. May 4, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Writing *as* a Jew, I’ll point out that Irish were also once considered nonwhite.
    They were assimilated/accepted earlier than Jews, but (a) it’s interesting how once formidible differences are now ignored (raising hopes for the dissolution of current perceived differences), and (b) I wonder how many of the commenters are Irish.

  3. May 4, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Why did Eteraz assume that those who look white are? One doesn’t have to look “ethnic” to identify as part of a minority culture.

    This isn’t to belittle the issue of racism or representation of minorities. But still.

  4. piny
    May 4, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    Why did Eteraz assume that those who look white are? One doesn’t have to look “ethnic” to identify as part of a minority culture.

    Well, hopefully eteraz will be here presently, but I don’t think that’s the implication. Marshall McLuhan’s work was all about framing and similar concepts: the idea that appearance is not exactly superficial in a culture where appearance is used to define people, and that a belief could be senseless and still crucial. The argument as I read it ran as follows: because Jews look white, they are not visibly not-white, and do not “speak” on that appearance level to people who are. Those people deserve representation on a visible level–particularly if the inclusion of only minorities who look white is a sop to the egos of white people–and will react to its absence by avoiding the Huffblog and voting Democrats out of office. In other words, the absence is due to racism, but its effects can also be analyzed from a bottom-line Lakoff advertising stance.

    I hope I didn’t just fuck that up entirely.

  5. May 4, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Wow.

    I bow. Piny is smarter than me. I thought I had said the Fukuyamean, Hegelian, final world on racism in America, but no. Oh well, maybe I’ll be world-historical some other day.

    General Comment:

    Huffington sounds like some Slavic Matriarch. Her spoken English is worse than a 3rd grader in Pakistan. Yet, for every intent and purpose, she is white. Why? It’s simple: tall, pale-skinned red-head. In other words, she looks white. To be more precise: she has white skin. Compare her to Fareed Zakaria. Better degree, better brain, better English. Not white. Never white. Skin color.

    [We’re not talking about subjective self-perception; rather, objective, third-person perceptions] –> Is that fair? Yes. I am judged in that manner. Which is a looser way of saying: a majority of us do it, therefore, its acceptable.

    But let me not stop there. There is one more reason why we have to look at it ‘objectively.’ Because we’re looking in from the perspective of the outsider. The sub-altern. If I were white, or a not-white writer on Huffington’s Blog, I couldn’t make the analysis I made. Your perspective changes the facts. To quote Staind: I’m on the outside, I’m looking in. This is why, commentator Nomie I can’t speak to how people subjectively identify with minorities.

  6. piny
    May 4, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    I bow. Piny is smarter than me. I thought I had said the Fukuyamean, Hegelian, final world on racism in America, but no. Oh well, maybe I’ll be world-historical some other day.

    Heh. I’ve never owned up to this before, but I know next to nothing about either of those people or their work.

    Looking back on what I wrote, some of the distinctions between appearance and experience seem pretty plastic in this context. Racism, as you say, sorts by appearance, which means that “looking white” frequently sorts you into “white” and distances you from, say, Fareed Zakariah. “Looking white” isn’t an, ahem, superficial distinction to make, nor is it easy to separate from “being white.” I hope I didn’t sound like I was criticizing your argument as lazy.

    [We’re not talking about subjective self-perception; rather, objective, third-person perceptions] –> Is that fair? Yes. I am judged in that manner. Which is a looser way of saying: a majority of us do it, therefore, its acceptable.

    Well, and that these discussions tend to come up most often during conversations about getting people to sign up with your political party. It’s apparently only cynical and reductive if you’re working against unexamined racist clannishness on the part of white people that extends to maintaining appearances they’re comfortable with. Automatic broad-stroke pandering is just fine.

  7. May 4, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    I think what I’m feeling is this:

    a) in terms of analyzing power, whether you are “white” is no longer tenable, viable, or intelligent. just too much miscegnation in the halls of power.

    b) to analyze power we should look at economic power and class issues

    c) the fact is that although we know a and b, we still evaluate power on the basis of color.

    in other words, in huffbug’s defense, perhaps she feels she’s realized point a, and moved on to point b. unfortunately, the street is still on point c. in fact, while i was writing the piece, i didn’t feel like an ‘intellectual’ as i wrote it. i felt ‘common.’ yet, i think that’s the key to this whole thing from the democratic perspective. they can’t acknowledge those ‘common’ things because they want to stick to the theoretically correct answer.

    there is a really interesting parallel between this discussion and another discussion i had on my blog related to the hoor, (virgins in paradise), discussed here (in case you didn’t see). someone said that the virgin is a metaphor, and therefore, whether we actually get to “hit that” or not is irrelevant. someone rebutted that whether or nor its a metaphor is irrelevant, because everyone still believes that you do get to “hit that.” that second position is the ‘common-man’s position. yet that’s the position that keeps winning out over and over in islam. similarly, that common man’s position — that race tells us who has power — keeps winning out in america, only slowly getting eroded. i hope that it will be eroded b/c i concur that position a and b are the correct ones. however, in the duration, republicans will keep winning, just as in the short term, in the muslim world, the hoor-pimps keep winning. however, i don’t want to leave on a fatalistic note. huffbug should engage that point of view, over and over. instead, she takes it as a given and doesn’t care about issues of representation just as many muslim reformers have not empathetically tried to redescribe the hoor. (my essay was one such attempt: i tried to make the suffering woman the new hoor. similarly, i think huffbug needs to define the new ‘victim.’ instead, she continues to engage the issues of the street based on premises that don’t fit the street).

  8. Edith
    May 4, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    I think part of the problem with the, “Well, Jews may be a minority, but they’re only ONE minority being represented and that’s not right” argument is that if, in fact, the only minority represented on a blog roll happened to be African American, most people would be less likely to say that the blog isn’t being diverse enough on racial/ethnic lines.

    Basically, one Black person in a group of a dozen white folk is often seen as “diversity” whereas one Jew (or one Asian, or whatever “model minority” that happens to be dismissed as “nearly white” by whoever is doing the judging) in the same group would not be seen as bringing in any ethnic diversity.

    Personally, I think neither scenarios represent diversity. A blog that is all white isn’t diverse, nor is a blog that is all Black. And if a blog is mostly white with a few Black bloggers, it’s no more diverse than a blog that’s mostly white with a few Jewish bloggers or Latin@ bloggers or Arab American bloggers.

  9. May 4, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    Huffington is Greek and, personally, I think she has an excellent grasp of the English language. She just hasn’t lost the accent.

    I would call the type of racism at the Huffington Post a type of lazy racism. I doubt Arianna ever made a decision not to include African American, Near and East Asian, or Latino commenters. She seems not to have gone out of her way to seek them out.

  10. May 4, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    I would call the type of racism at the Huffington Post a type of lazy racism. I doubt Arianna ever made a decision not to include African American, Near and East Asian, or Latino commenters. She seems not to have gone out of her way to seek them out.

    Well that’s the million dollar question. Isn’t that racism? I’ve read theory which calls this: subconscious racism. In Piny’s Mundane Stress post, the first two paragraphs deal with this kind of subconscious racism. Maybe you guys think that ‘reluctance’ or ‘forgetfulness’ is not racism. In fact, maybe it isn’t. Then what is it? And irrespective of what it is, I hope you can see how it makes people feel. As I concluded my Huffpost, I said: “I am tired of being in parantheses.” In other words, what about my legitimation? My recognition?

    Also: if her racism is lazy, what does that say about Republicans? Who counter their laziness with aggressive campaigns *to* recruit non-whites.

    As to Huff’s accent, that’s exactly what I was talking about. A Pakistani third grader can lose her accent, come here, and still not be white. Huff’s got a leg up on all of them. What’s interesting is that a lot of Arabs often pass for white. You will note that it is these Arabs who often Anglicize their names. Most people always thought Edward Said was white, until he told them he wasn’t. Most South Asians couldn’t ever pass for white. So they don’t bother anglicizing. In the end, they remain on the outside.

  11. May 4, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Okay. Thank you for the further explanation, piny and eteraz.

    I asked because I look white but identify as biracial (Hispanic on one side, white mutt – or actually, for this discussion, Jewish mutt -on the other), and hence people often treat me as white even though I’m not, really. So this piqued my interest – wondering if the same thing is happening with the staff of the Huffington Post. But I can understand why this approach was taken, and it’s certainly not like scientific standards were in place for the whole thing. And going by eteraz’ post it does still seem like the overwhelming majority of the posters are white, even allowing for those who either don’t have pictures or appear white.

  12. May 4, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    I forgot to add this: I think that the mainstream left (not the radical left) has a huge diversity problem on the basis of color. There is white guys, white girls (and I am happy that white women are there), and sometimes white homosexuals.

    I mean, my question is this: is the mainstream left saying that all people are equal, including whites and non-whites, such that only merit matters? If so, then why do they support affirmative action and other race-based initiatives? What happened to the whole history of race thing? Bye bye?

  13. Sierra
    May 4, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    it appears that out of the 55 writers I looked at, 2 were not white. That’s right, coming in at a solid 0.3% of the Huffington Post population

    That would be 3.6%, not 0.3%.

  14. May 4, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    lol, i swear upon all the books of nietzsche i was looking at my calculation about 10 minutes ago and thinking, wait, that’s so not right, but then i gave up.

    humanities major.

    i get it now though. 2 divided by 55 times 100.

    sigh, mr. hawkins is going to kill me. too bad he is dead poor guy.

  15. May 4, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Given the name counting and ignoring, for the moment, whether Jews are “white”, it’s still a bit of a jump to conclude racism. I mean, it may in fact be but shouldn’t the next question be something like, “why aren’t their more racial minorities represented?” Must it be because Huffington discriminates against them?

  16. May 4, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    David,

    I believe its only racism if you believe in subconscious racism. I keep saying, the premise of this post is related to Mundame Stuff post by Piny — specifically the first two paragraphs.

    To have subconscious racism you don’t need actual discrimination.

  17. jam
    May 4, 2006 at 5:56 pm

    I believe its only racism if you believe in subconscious racism.

    what in the world is “subconscious racism”? how does it differ from the concept of “institutionalized racism” – which doesn’t require any belief in or reference to unprovable mental phenomena?

  18. dharmadyke
    May 4, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    “Subconscious racism” is consciously saying to myself “I believe all races are equal,” but nonetheless, feeling more comfortable around people who look like me–and then picking, or hiring, or choosing, or inviting these people into my home, club, company, or blog.

    In other words, it’s plain old racism, and it is discrimination, but disavowed, and not seen by the practitioner, who believes him or herself to be non-racist or anti-racist.

  19. May 4, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    What if, as a result of racism, there are less qualified people of a given race? Let’s say, less non-whites are admitted to graduate programs in journalism. Can you then fault a newspaper for having less non-white faces? The racism in that case would be in the admissions committees of the journalism schools, not the newspapers. But then what if journalism schools weren’t getting as many applications from high-quality non-white students because white students usually attended better colleges?

    Obviously, I’m oversimplifying the facts. I’m not denying the presence of racism. I’m just not sure we should pin it on Huffington, or any group for that matter, unless there’s evidence of intentionally discouraging members of a specific group.

  20. May 4, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    It’s not like America lacks for skilled black writers. Or of any group larger than 100K.

  21. May 4, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    Pet peeve: Dude, what qualifications do you need to post on a blog. Really, a graduate degree in journalism isn’t needed to write on a blog(or even a newspaper). I think the whole qualifcations thing is merely a smoke screen for racism. Like, seriously, if someone writes a blog or a newspaper column with a black audience for many years and doesn’t have a graduate degree in journalism, that some how is a big deal, but remember the white boy straight out of homeschool who ended up (shortly) blogging for the washington post? He didn’t have any qualifications, he didn’t even know how to write, so he had to plagerize. So yea, until white people have to have qualifications, instead of connections, I’ll be skeptical of the concept.

  22. May 4, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    I also appreciate the idea that Jews aren’t considered “white” — because, really, in a lot of ways, they’re not. White is straight male Christian white, mostly. But really, having one minority well-represented (especially one minority which is usually reasonably well-represented as writers) is not diverse by any reasonable definition of diverse.

    And I think that was a fine analogy and not at all offensive, fwiw.

  23. Sally
    May 4, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    Writing *as* a Jew, I’ll point out that Irish were also once considered nonwhite.

    You know, people throw that around on the internet as if it’s a settled fact, and it’s really not. There’s a lot of evidence that Irish people always have been considered white. For instance, until the mid-19th century, only white people could become naturalized U.S. citizens. After that, only white people and those of African descent could. Despite a whole lot of brutal anti-Irish prejudice, and despite calls to keep Irish people from becoming citizens, I know of no instance in which anyone challenged an Irish person’s right to naturalize on racial grounds. If the Irish weren’t white, then why didn’t nativists try that strategy?

    More nuanced scholars of race claim that Irish people (and Jews) were always white, but that until around WWII, they were still considered racially inferior. There was a concept of races within whiteness, with Anglo-Saxons being the highest kind of white people and other white folks being inferior to them. This was racial prejudice, but it was a different kind of racial prejudice from the kind that non-white people faced.

    I really just don’t buy the idea that white-looking Jews aren’t white. My mom grew up Jewish (and not able to pass) in the segregated South, and her family was clearly white. They sat in the front of the bus, drank from white water fountains, and ate at segregated lunch counters. My mom attended segregated, white public schools. They faced a fair amount of anti-semitism, but they were still white.

    Further, it’s a total cop-out to claim that your all-white blogroll is diverse because there are Jews on it. There isn’t a shortage of Jewish voices in the mainstream media. Jewish commenters are not generally called upon to give “the Jewish perspective” or to interpret the Jewish community for readers who are presumed not to be Jewish. I just think it’s a little outrageous to claim to be diverse because you don’t marginalize people who aren’t generally marginalized.

    Eek! I’m feeling a bit ranty. It’s been a long day!

  24. kate
    May 5, 2006 at 1:10 am

    I am so damn tired of people who consider themselves progressive constantly bantering around the construct of ‘white’ and ‘black’ as if there is some true meaning in it.

    These terms are an american construct formulated from the days of slavery. Such distinction arose from the knowledge that the bondsman and the poor, often indentured immigrant shared a bond in oppression and also outnumbered the property owner by a huge majority, as much as 75% in some southern states.

    The virulent and entrenched form of american racism acheived its goal of carefully seperating oppressed peoples into different classes of priviledge, won on the oppression of another group (the poor white gaining status over the slave for example).

    Such social construct still exists. We sit here wondering how Huffie can call herself a progressive while dismissing the voices of a group of persons whom the progressives have claimed for years to hear and share. She does so for a multitude of deeper social reasons, many out of her control.

    But still, it is legitimate to question the progressive claims of an individual who cannot or will not make the effort to constantly put a hole in the fences that we are taught to construct, to let people from the outside in — if they wish to come in.

    Republicans have taken advantage of the blind hypocrisy among many of the intellectuals of the left, who by and large have enjoyed the fruits of priviledge. It is not the only hole that has developed due to ignorance and priviledge among the power brokers and intellectuals on the left. I don’t know that the democrats can, with any credibility maintain that they care passionately about minorities or poor folks without considering seriously and examining their own racism and mysoginy.

    That Piny makes the effort to point this out as well as ersatz shows that a true progressive does have a sensitivity to this kind of tacit exclusion.

    Republicans are playing a sinister game, lying to the the disaffected and disillioned to get their votes, while completely abandoning them with nothing immediately after. That the democrats seem to consistently walk around the elephant, like the Blind Men from Istanbul, each one proclaiming to know the whole elephant by holding only its singular body parts.

  25. Gordon K
    May 5, 2006 at 1:11 am

    Sally: I think what was meant was that the Irish were not part of the “privileged” groups in society. They may not have been called non-white, but they were still subject to ethnic prejudice.

    eteraz: Actually, a lot of South Asians do anglicize their names – either they’re given anglicized names by their parents, or they use a “Western name” in addition (this can be a name given by parents, or chosen later in life – a lot of Asian businesspeople have a Western name for use with their English-speaking colleagues). Granted, they can’t pass as white – but I suspect a lot of Arabs with anglicized names do so because they don’t want to deal with the “how do you pronounce that” thing, and I think it could be argued that many Asians take anglicized names as part of a process of assimilation.

  26. May 5, 2006 at 1:19 am

    As some above posters mentioned, I agree with the statement that the blogrolling practices at THP amount to “lazy racism.” IF there’s one lesson that Women’s Lib taught us in the 1970’s, it’s that discrimination doesn’t have to be active or intentional. I think an anti-discriminationalist perspective needs to be vigilant and constantly honed–self-policing, if you will. Of course, that begs another set of questions: How much self-policing is enough to be “non-discriminatory”? And how can we know?

    Please understand, I’m not trying to rebut these wonderful arguments I’ve heard, but if we’re going to truly move toward a more tolerant society, these are the kinds of questions we’re going to have to ask ourselves. And I’m afraid I have no idea how to answer. Thoughts?

  27. Christopher
    May 5, 2006 at 4:43 am

    One thing I’ve been thinking is that all ofthis rests on the premise that Huffington has an obligation to avoid discrimination in her blog.

    To me, the question of whether she does, in fact, have such an obligation depends largely on various statistics of her blog. Does she seek bloggers out or do they make submissions to her? How big is it? Are her connections with other bloggers formed mostly in cyberspace or mostly in real life?

    All of these will effect the racial make-up of her blog, and will make it more or less excusible, depending on the answers.

  28. Sally
    May 5, 2006 at 10:06 am

    Sally: I think what was meant was that the Irish were not part of the “privileged” groups in society. They may not have been called non-white, but they were still subject to ethnic prejudice.

    That’s certainly true. But there’s a real tendency to equate “not privileged” or even “considered racially inferior” with “not white,” and that’s not accurate in the U.S., where white was a legal, rather than social category until quite recently. And it ignores the ways in which the Irish were privileged from the very start. Being categorized as white gave them many tools with which to combat the ethnic prejudice they faced.

    This is partly history geekery, but I have a point here. The people who came up with the idea that Irish folks “became white” were trying to make an anti-racist point, but that idea can also bolster white supremacy.

  29. piny
    May 5, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    I am ill, and haven’t had time to do much more than thaw out a frozen post. I’ll be back later. Thanks for the comments. I’m glad I’ve managed to spark such an interesting discussion.

    Eteraz–I agree with the idea of institutional/unconscious racism; I think that without analyzing it, it’s impossible to look at the effects of racism at all.

    And David–what everyone else said. Were there a paucity of thinkers/bloggers/writers of color, it might make sense to ponder its potential effect on Arianna Huffington’s blogroll. Since it doesn’t exist, it’s not relevant.

  30. May 5, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    Sadly, the Huffington Post is only one of many intended liberal communities/blogs/publications that pretty much completely -if not actively exclude, at least don’t actively include people of color.

    I first noticed this when reading TPM Cafe and while I don’t usually scour sites to see how representative they are, after a period of time of reading articles and seeing photos I thought… well, hey, wait a minute. And then I started really looking. It’s not a pretty picture.

    Huffpost, TPMcafe, the Nation, american prospect, the largest liberalish political blog online putting on political/strategy event and unable to find even one black speaker and example after example. There is something wrong here and I don’t think there are very many acceptable explanations.

    Regarding the possibility of some considering the presence of Jews as providing enough diversity or minority culture input, I don’t think that works very well. Jews indeed are an historically oppressed group, and have faced discrimination and anti semitism (and still do… in fact, I think they are in great peril now, especially as the religious right starts to jettison the ones that have made common cause with them and vise versa), but they are sort of on the opposite end of the discriminatory stereotype spectrum, so to speak – whether they are considered white or not doesn’t really matter.

    The stereotypical Jew was/is considered too intelligent, too industrious, too good at business, too good with money, too apt to take over, etc, etc and thus feared and/or hated by established majorities for this reason (not to mention the whole religion thing).

    The stereotypical Black or Latino was/is considered too unintelligent, too lazy, too unindustrious, too apt to bring down the neighborhood, too inarticulate, too emotional, etc etc, thus generating an entirely different sort of fear and/or hatred.

    Asians are a still circling stereotype… both loved (why can’t they all be more like them!) and hated (my god, they are going to take over… stop the yellow horde!)

    (All the above is, of course, very generalized, but still… )

    Anyway, when you have multiple white liberal/progressive planned and intentional communities/sites/organizations and there is a consistent dearth of non white persons on the rolls, especially if the excuse is made that this is due to ‘color blindness’ or ‘minority issues are american issues and so anyone can address them’ or any of the other things one hears, I think it may be time to take a step back and do some reconsidering of just where one stands and just what message is being sent.

  31. Erin M
    May 5, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    Speaking from under the bus, I hadn’t heard about HRC dropping gender-inclusive language from their agenda, and while not surprised I’m still quite disappointed. On the same lines, the annual Equality Forum in Philly has only managed a single token hour for the trans community in an entire week of programming. To wit: Kate Bornstien has a q&a session of some sort this Sunday afternoon. Somehow I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is the last program of the week. “Afterthought” comes to mind.

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