We need to talk"We need to talk." The one sentence that can make most of us cringe. It means a difficult subject has come up; one which we would like to avoid; one which might mean an argument. But whether we are talking about a wife telling her husband, or a father telling his son, or a coworker telling coworker; does it help to let things slide, let it keep simmering? Not usually, letting it simmer means that it will eventually explode. So it's better to have that talk and depressurize the situation.
Now is the time for people of color to have that talk with the liberal white people who say they are our allies. During the recent fracas over the Clinton blogger lunch, several things came to light, many disturbing. The first is that Peter Daou did invite one black blogger, Oliver Willis. He also invited two latino bloggers, Kos and Pachacutec. For many people of color, this extent of outreach is weak to say the least. To many white bloggers it's good enough. But...I think if Daou or any of the other bloggers at that lunch had explained the situation, that it was the first of many meetings planned, that it was thrown together quickly, and that some POC bloggers had been invited but couldn't attend on such short notice; there may have been some grumbles but it would have quickly died down. That isn't what happened.
Instead many of the bloggers didn't even observe the lack of color. No black bloggers in Harlem of all places, and while eating soul food, and while discussing racial justice during part of the conversation, is somewhat troubling if you ask me. Oh, I am sure that no one there wanted to deliberately keep POC out, but I am also very discouraged that we are an afterthought and that not one of these people thought it was worthy of mention, discussion, or explanation. Until...
People of color noticed. And then what happened? These bloggers screeched that it was up to us to investigate before we hurl accusations. Are you kidding me? Why should we? We're not the ones in Daou's rolodex. We're not the one in the same room with both him and Clinton. You were there! You should have been shocked by the lack of diversity and asked for yourself and your readers! BUT YOU DIDN'T CARE ENOUGH TO EVEN NOTICE WE WERE MISSING! Or more charitably, you were too much of a coward to ask, or to bring it up on your blog, and hoped and prayed that no POC would notice.
Many of these bloggers and several commenters asked the question, "What did you want me (them) to do? Walk out?" No, we wanted these bloggers to acknowledge that there is a problem, to ask why, and to explain to the readers what happened. Is that really too much to ask?
Then they, and some commenters, went on to explain that they are the "leaders" of the blogosphere. And one in particular thought that we are too illiterate to deserve an invite and that we should mind our "betters". This is a little hard to reconcile with the reason we are given for the meeting. It is supposed to be a way to coordinate the Democratic strategy and progressive bloggers messaging where their interest intersect. Since all these "leaders" are basically an upper middle class echo chamber with most of the same readership, they could have invited one or two of them, and then invited several who have different readerships to increase their effectiveness. After all lawyers aren't the only ones who vote; Susan at Suburban Guerilla covers class issues, Confined Space is one of the best blogs covering labor issues, Michael Berube covers both education and disability issues...what about healthcare, what about environmentalists, what about veterans? There were many left out at that table.
The last thing I will say is that perhaps it wasn't about coordinating messaging. Peter Daou does not work for Bill Clinton. He works for Hillary Clinton. It appears the purpose of this meeting was to mute the largest blogs' Hillary criticism. These bloggers will not want their access cut off, they got a Bill Clinton meet and greet, and many got a press pass to Clinton's Global Initiative...so far. Do they think they will get more of that if they criticize Hillary? So yes, my dear, you sold out for fried chicken.