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8/08/2007
Race and the Blogosphere
This post is part of Julie Pippert's Hump Day Hmm and BlogRhet's "Let's Talk About Race, Baby" week long initiative.

There have been some fascinating debates going on in the Blogosphere about race as it relates to blogging over the last few weeks. In fact, Julie's Hump Day Hmmm to all of us this week is to discuss whether race matters on the Internet, or whether it should matter.

I have many thoughts on this subject and no time to write them all down. However, Julie asked us to put our comments from her post into a post of our own if the topic as a whole was overwhelming.

A little background first: If asked a few months ago if race mattered on the Internet, I would have said yes and no. Sometimes people write from a racial and cultural perspective that I find interesting. Although my blog roll over there is pretty white bread, I do enjoy variety and I have over 200 blogs in my Bloglines. Some are parents, some are not. Some are white, some are not. But overall I would have argued that the Internet is a place that is colorblind.

Aside from the economical aspect of Internet access (that's a post for another time), if you don't want your race known on the Internet, it won't be. If we're honest, I think that on the Internet, even if your race is advertised and discussed, there aren't the same stumbling blocks or awkwardness to a discussion that there might be face to face.

Julie, in her post, discussed why race sometimes should matter, in medical diagnosis and on the Internet. She points out that our genetic background may be the key to an ailment that our skin color does not reveal. Then Julie wonderfully describes why our race and cultural backgrounds may be and sometimes should be important. I agree with her point that different cultures and different perspectives, whether seen through the veil of color or not, can be an amazing addition to our online conversations. How boring this blogging world would be if we all agreed about everything and we all had the same background.

Part of my comment to Julie on this post was:
Sometimes I think its easy for those of us who are white (or at least appear to be) to say that race doesn't or shouldn't matter. But you point out quite aptly, that sometimes it should. I tend to think that we should embrace our similarities and our differences because *that* is what will make this world interesting, whether in the "real" world or the blogosphere.
Her Bad Mother raised some interesting questions in her comment to the discussion:
Do bloggers have an obligation to write their racial/ethnic/cultural (not to mention sexual, etc.) identities into their texts? Do *readers* have an obligation to seek that information out? How do we navigate this issue in a community that allows - even encourages - certain degrees of invisibility?
I can't pretend to have all the answers. In fact, I don't want to have all of the answers. I just want to participate in the discussion.

So tell me what you think, in the comments or on your blog. Does race matter in the Blogosphere? Add your voice to the discussion.

I apologize for writing a half-assed post and not including all of the necessary linky love, but I have a lot going on right now. If you read Julie's post, I promise you'll find all the background you need on this weighty topic.

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18 Comments:

Anonymous sam said...

Has this become just a sudden issue? I haven't heard anything about it until recently.

I for one could really care less what race the blogger is. I don't care if they talk about their lives or tell stories, I will read it if it interests me. Plain and simple.

I will not let race decide who I interact with. That's not me in real life, and it's not me in my online life.

Plan and Simple.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Sam - This is an offshoot of a conversation that came up recently at BlogHer and a discussion at BlogRhet by Tere earlier in the week. See? I knew I should have taken the time to put in all the linky love!

Blogger Mamma said...

This has been a fascinating conversation to watch and participate in.

Thanks for expanding the discussion.

Like you, my perspective on this has changed.

I'll see if I can try to tackle something about this tonight.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

Interesting topic. Yes, I think race matters in the Blogosphere...in fact, race always matters! Race and culture are part of who we are, just as much as whether we are Yankees or Southerners or male or female or twenty or thirty or forty. It is part of our identities...an important part, in fact. It impacts how we look at the world and how we think about issues. How can an element this impacting not be important? Just MHO.

Blogger Mama Luxe said...

I am not saying you are using it like this...but I sometimes think that the idea that "race does not matter" is a bit of a cop-out to show how enlightened someone (usually white) is.

There are times when it is less (or more) important than another factor...like a shared hobby, occupation, home town, or something else.

I think what we are really trying to say is that race should not be used as way to judge or denigrate--which I totally support!

The gist I'm getting from some bloggers who identify as being "of color" is that sometimes they feel invisible out there...or worse, are excluded, either unintentionally or intentionally.

My thought is that we can work together to really enjoy and celebrate the things that make us unique--and race, and our perception of our own race, is part of the sum total of who we are.

Even when I'm not actively mothering or discussing motherhood...I am still a mother. it is part of who I am. I think of race as similar in that respect. It contributes to, and in some ways defines, who I am...though it shouldn't be limiting either.

Does this make any sense?

Here's what I wrote on the topic after reading Tere's post:

http://mamasaga.blogspot.com/2007/08/what-color-am-i-and-what-does-it-matter.html

Blogger ewe are here said...

I think an individual's blog is about what that individual wants to share... no more no less. I don't think readers have an obligation, or even a right, to seek to determine 'who' a writer really is in terms of race. Because why should it matter? You're either interested in what someone has to say or you're not...

Simplistic, yes. Definitely. But I really don't see that it matters. At least not to me.

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Don't forget to check out the discussion at BlogRhet! We'll be doing a series of posts on this topic next week (and, if I may, I'd like to link this one - 'kay? Cuz it's a really good summary of some of the key issues.)

Blogger slouching mom said...

Race always matters, whether in the blogosphere or not.

Maybe someday it won't, but we're not there yet, and for now, yes. It matters.

Blogger Karianna said...

Excellent points - the medical one is especially intriguing. (Of course, many medical things are based on males, so as a female I have to watch out, too.)

The way I "treat" others online is similar to that in person: on one hand, I want to be respectful of culture and ethnicity; but on the other hand, I don't want to *assume* difference, thus putting my foot in my mouth. Pointing out a difference can be insulting just as not pointing out a difference.

It is hard to bridge the gap amongst "equality," "curiosity," and "respect."

Blogger DD said...

"Does it matter in blogging?"

I think the question is too vague.
Yes it matters when that is the topic or point of the blog. But as far as whether it "matters", it does when either the author or the reader make it a point of mentioning it.

I don't seek out other white, Catholic women's blogs. I don't seek white women's blogs. I don't even seek women's blogs. I care about the story; the opinion; the journey.

Coincently I was just thinking about this and whether I could tell a blogger's race, religion, or sex by just their words alone. What I realized is that it is almost always possible to tell that an author is male or female (I was fooled once). However, ethnicity and religion is always ambiguous unless the blog specifically mentions them. It is at THAT point, that it matters.

Blogger weatherchazer said...

I never even really considered any of that before. But I also feel like in some instances that it shouldn't matter. When someone is blogging, they're probably being as honest as they will ever be- it's an anonymous place that you can just be yourself with no worries of the preconceptions that everyone has of you. Maybe that's why I feel more free blogging than I do in person- because people that know me (or think they do) have a lot of preconceptions about me- and most of them are wrong.

Blogger Jenn said...

The reasons that I blog are completely colorblind.

Blogger painted maypole said...

Hello! loved catching up with you after my absence - loved all your info on Blogher (and pictures... oh how I crave the pictures. Thanks for giving me a fix! And Jen as Bill Clinton? Brilliant!) And your breath post and... well, it was all lovely. Now I can get back to reading in "real time"

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

As I feared, I only replied in my mind LOL.

Excellent approach and good points to ponder. I'm glad you did this because you did add to and expand the discussion.

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

Blogger Dakota said...

Great topic! I've not thought much about this. I am of the mind that race always matters, as others have pointed out, because it is integral to who we are as individuals. That doesn't mean bloggers are obligated to share their race, or readers should seek the information. I think it is enlightening to know racial/cultural/sexual identity/gender..etc. info, but not mandatory. I wonder what it would be like to set up an experiment - two nearly-identical blogs, one in which race is revealed, but not expanded upon, and another where it was not. Would the readership and dicussions be different?

Anonymous Emily said...

I'm with SM. Race always matters. It is a part of who we are, IRL and URL.

Blogger Worker Mommy said...

Race should matter in the sense that we should all be proud of what we are and in the context that Julie suggested where it is relevant to a medical diagnosis.

But my racial make-up is not all of me. I am very proud to be a black woman. I'm also a mother, a sister, a career woman, a friend - I am many other things beyond just a black woman

Should it matter in the blogosphere ? Depends on the content or the nature of the post. For example,if I'm posting about issues facing Black Americans then it could matter in the sense that I may have my finger on the pulse of those issues more so than someone that the issues does not affect.
But as an MB I tend to write about my children, my husband and my work and don't tend to tackle racial issues. It shouldn't matter that I'm a black woman to my readers. It should only matter that they've found something they can relate to or enjoy.

Blogger moosh in indy. said...

I'm going to say race doesn't matter, courtesy does however.
I like to go out reading blogs knowing that my opinion isn't going to be discounted because of my religion or race and that I'm not going to be the subject of some horrible stereotype or attack by someone who happens to think LDS chicks are a bunch of malarky.

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