Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Whose Voices Get Heard

This will probably be the only post I write today as I have personal issues that will keep me away from the internet until late in the evening.

image Monica of transgriot made an excellent observation a few months ago when she pointed out the drop in the technocrati ratings in the post election period for black blogs on the BBR.   Whether we like to admit it or not, the blogosphere is just as segregated by race as any other section of society.  Unless it relates directly to so-called “Black issues”, we are not getting read or linked to.  Anyone perusing the BBR would find that though these blogs are Black owned and operated they cover a multitude of subjects. 

Just as Womanist Musings covers everything from race to politics, to current events, so to do the other BBR blogs.  We are small fish in a large pond fighting image for a piece of kale like everyone else, with the difference being that we must also combat racism when we try to achieve a larger readership.

The internet is considered the great equalizer and blogs like ProBlogger regularly publish tips on how to grow a blog without considering that a blogger of color is labouring under a unique set of circumstances if we choose to make our identity public.  A generic path to success i.e. “content is king mentality” is not enough to garner attention.

Many bloggers labour in near obscurity not because their writing skills are substandard or from a lack of interesting commentary but simply for daring to speak truth to power. 

Monica often reminds me that truth tellers are not always palatable and this statement is proven almost daily in the comment section of this blog alone.  When it comes to speaking about our experiences from a specifically afro-centric lens there is much resistance simply because whiteness has become accustomed to regularly seeing itself reflected in all conversations.  To speak about Blackness as though we are equals or worthy of any form of human dignity is often seen as an affront.  If I had a dollar for all of the times I have been called a racist in the last year, I could get the unhusband that Winnebago he has been dying for.

image Though most of my readers come from the “feminist” blogosphere it has not escaped my attention that even within the sphere of influence in which I operate, racism still continues to determine who is successful.  I have written about the dependency on white feminist for links in order to gain readership thus forcing a blogger to censor their words should they have ambitious goals for their blog.  In the last few weeks I have been very vocal about calling out both feministing bloggers and commenter's and I expect that I will pay a price in terms of link return.  This was a decision I made with full awareness of the political games that most bloggers play.  Feministing is not the worst offender, it simply happens to be the largest offender. 

If conventional means don’t work for bloggers of color and we repeatedly find ourselves beholden to the “whiteosphere” for attention or validation for our work, we are only recreating the same racial dynamics online that already exist in the “real world”.   We cannot solve the problem by simply avoiding a discussion of race because that only reifies the racial dynamics that are at play. 

Each Saturday I write a link love post in which I specifically look for smaller blogs that don’t receive the attention that they deserve.  I further provide the opportunity for other bloggers to promote their work.   Even as I try to spread the love around the blogosphere, I am fully cognizant that those efforts are not enough to undo the divide that exists.   No matter how proactive bloggers of color are to promote each other, unless white bloggers decide to look beyond their desire to privilege the work of fellow white bloggers, our work will continue to be done in obscurity. 

image There is much brilliance that daily gets ignored and each time you choose to avoid a blog written by a person of color you are missing an opportunity to grow.  Using us as a referential for “specialty” topics (read: race related) is very racist.  We are not one trick ponies and have varying interests.   Today I challenge you to check out a few of the blogs on the BBR.  Who you read says much about who you are and which voices you truly value.  Claiming to believe in equality is meaningless if it is not followed by action.


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