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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Friday, May 06, 2005

Is the Blogosphere Racist?

I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate - it's apathy. It's not giving a damn.

Leo Buscaglia

Posting in response to Karlos Schmieder, SWOP activist's commentary which calls to question whether the blogosphere is racist.


It seems to me that lack of representation has something to do more with use of technology or its lack of use that is the problem.

You right in observing that the overwhelming majority of blogs are represented by the dominant culture. However, I think it is because blogging is at the point where it is just coming into its own.

I suspect the people who are not blogging are either unaware of it or, in the case of many Latinos, they are busy attempting to get their piece of the American pie. From what I see, Latinos by and large have bought into the illusory American Dream so this is a time of great transition.

I haven't fully explored the phenomenon but I think it goes something like this; people from 'minority' groups struggle for equality in rights first. Having believed they accomplished that, they seek to assimilate themselves into their society. They accomplish that by copying what they observe from their dominant-culture counterparts. In their struggle to 'keep up with the Jones,' their cultural memories of disenfranchisement and disaffection are the first to go. It becomes every man for himself. Gone, are the idealistic longings for issues like ‘social justice’ and ‘parity’ across-the-board because the trade-off for the American Dream often means lots of work just to have the goodies in life. They are fully committed to the rat race as it were. Thus, the mentality of, 'I've got mine. You go get yours' develops. Most people simply forget and become just plain lazy when it comes to social justice issues.

Not everyone becomes this way however. There are the Karlos Schmieders of the world who cling to their idealism and have not been blinded to issues such as institutionalized racism. To your credit Karlos, you are a man who has devoted his entire life to the social justice causes. You have kept up with technology. Consequently, you avail yourself of the phenomenon of blogging. Owing to your world-view, you are sensitive to issues like under-representation and rightfully lament what you have witnessed all your life; poor people and more specifically, people of color for the most part are once again missing from the table.

In my opinion (and this is only my opinion) two realities exist; poor people do not have equal access to technology because they are struggling just to survive. They do not enjoy the luxury of sitting at a computer because their focus of concern is having their primary needs met. Their world is one of struggle merely to survive. They are not disencumbered enough to enjoy the luxury of engaging in dialogue about social injustice. They are involved in an all out struggle to meet their basic needs. The second reality, I already referred to above. People who have spent generations longing to reach the table are unwilling to give up what they have so they are obsessively filling their plates to satiate a hunger of memories. Having reached their particular social or economic apex, they are unwilling to relinquish what they have struggled to acquire at such great personal sacrifice.

So the notion of 'divide and conquer' is revisited in that people at the 'top' of the social heap tend to forget people sharing the same cultural/gender/economic stripe at the bottom. Thus, they make no effort to keep up with what is happening in the long since forgotten 'struggle.' Of those who have ‘made it,’ the vast majority end up in the middle class where entertainment comes in the form of television for the most part. At day's end, they return home to 'veg' out in front of the boob-tube, too drained to do any deep thinking because tomorrow is only a few hours away. These folks are entertained by sit-coms or educational programs or sports channels or cable news that even does the thinking for them! It is no wonder that the dumbing down, numbing effect of ‘entertainment’ is as seductive as it is. You don’t have to do anything but sit there and watch. In a world where one is concerned with meeting deadlines and making future payments for current ‘necessities’ such as homes, cars, amenities, tuition etc, can be so depressing, how the hell is there time for social justice?

For those who spent generations being shit on, all they want to do is forget it. People like Schmieder can’t. I share his plight.


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