My gracious! Saturday’s Racial Politics Roundup reporting on the Clinton blogger lunch controversy certainly seems to have gotten people’s drawers (aka knickers for the non-black) twisted far and wide throughout the progressive blogs — particularly in the “blackosphere”, a term a buddie of mine made up. Can’t take any credit for that. Some people don’t like that word. And it’s a valid point — is there a blogosphere and a blackosphere? Separate but equal?

Or can we be one internet hippie blogosphere working for peace, truth, justice and apple pie? Can’t we all just get along???

In between some unfortunate accusations of de-linking by critics of major progressive blogs, some interesting things have happened here. One is that progressive blogs large and small are talking — really talking to the tune of 425 comments in one spot — about the role that race currently plays in the future of the progressive movement. Black folks in particular seem to be eager to have a say on this. I think it reflects some pent-up, generalized emotions and concerns re: the Democratic party’s drive-through treatment of African-American voters (thanks for the vote! see you in 2, 4, 6 years!). Um, Hurricane Katrina? Paging a real urgency on Katrina relief? Anyone?

It’s a painful conversation (as race commonly is in America – sigh) and people’s feelings are getting hurt. But is that the price of honest dialogue, even if it is awkward, nasty, strident, defensive, accusatory, self-righteous etc? I am not pointing fingers in any direction, mind you children. I think there’s some of that on all sides of the debate.

Is it productive to have the conversation rather than sweep it under the rug, even if it’s tough? I think so. The way I see it, we can either talk about it now OR we let it fester and talk louder and nastier about it later. Sometime in 2008.

I admit, I’m not used to people calling me and my ideas stupid and find it exhilarating actually. I’m tickled, Oliver, that you took the time to give my ideas some thought, though I reserve the right to think I may be onto something.

Another concept folks seem to be struggling with is the fact that the digital divide has changed. That blacks, latinos and other minorities are online big-time and that the divide breaks along class lines — education and income — rather than race nowadays. (Black men still lag behind overall though.) Bloggers are in fact even more diverse than the U.S. online population — which is saying something these days.

The progressive blogosphere may be mainly white right now. Maybe that’s true. Yet, the Democratic party is dependent — more than ever — on minority voters, a fact *finally* acknowledged in the change in the presidential primary schedule, right? Ultimately, the progressive blogosphere needs the participation and voices of minorities. This is not a current events type of issue. It’s a meta-conversation about how we can work together to affect the changes in this country we all want so badly to see.

So how can we bridge the gap and get more minorities online interested in what’s happening on the left-leaning blogs? How can we strengthen traffic to minority bloggers? Is it more breaking news, less commentary? Is it a star interested in the the socio-political like T.D. Jakes, Cornel West, Dave Chappelle, Queen Latifah, Tyler Perry or Tom Joyner coming forward to blog? Is it a new format — there are a lot of black-written music blogs out there. Would a blog that mixes music and politics — like some of the best hip hop does — catch fire? Is it conscious support and awareness from bigger blogs? Is it better coordination and dialogue at events like the Yearly Kos? What do you think?

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