Can you be color blind and diverse at the same time?

Follow the link chain with me for a minute while I lead you down the path that caused me to question whether or not I was a closet racist. Or something.

I was reading my wonderful friend Shari’s post about her experience at Blissdom. (No, this is not a post about Blissdom.) In this post, she mentioned a post that talked about the merits of a blogging conference that seemed to cater to an all white audience. (Actually, that post started talking about the possibility of a conference being faith based and somehow ended up talking about a conference being racially exclusive.)

Fast forward to a lot of comments from attendees and speakers indicating that they were neither racist nor white bread, so to speak. (My term, not theirs.)

One comment in particular from Megan at Velveteen Mind stood out to me:

“I’m a speaker at BlissDom and had no idea that there were no women of color on the speakers panel. I have no idea if any women of color are attending, either. Or lesbians. Or New Jersey Jews.

Which made me wonder if I even have any bloggers of color, etc., as editors or writers for my own magazine…

See, I’ve never checked. I have no idea of the color, sexual orientation, religious background, or affinity for gardening of any of my readers, twitter followers, etc. unless they talk about it. Most of us don’t post photos of ourselves. I’m not sure that other than having a white face that I’ve ever stated that I am white.”

I nodded my head in agreement with Megan and quickly decided that true acceptance comes from not even thinking about diversity. Right?

Then Kelly from MochaMomma knocked me on my intellectual ass, which she does on a regular basis, with her response:

“This is many many things. Political, personal, racial. And for the umpteenth time I’m going to put it out there for the very fact that it’s the lazy response of “Well, I don’t SEE color.” (emphasis mine) that gets my blood to boiling. When it cools I allow myself to feel the hurt that was really there in the first place.

Claiming that you didn’t know you were leaving people out? I call bullsh*t on that one.

The whole issue of exclusionary practice is news to most white, conservative people. (Note: I did NOT say “women”) When faced with a query like this the first reaction is defensiveness. It’s textbook. In fact, I’d be surprised if any other response came. (Though I’d be happy to hear, “Well, we reached out to WOC and didn’t get a good response.”) Then, the person who asks the question is made to EXPLAIN themselves.

This is a totally backwards way of working but the prevailing exclusionary view is that they didn’t even know they were being exclusive. (emphasis mine)”

I’m a white liberal, so you know when a black woman speaks up about race and exclusion that I have to stop and listen carefully. It’s in my DNA or something.

And that’s how I came to find myself taking stock of the people around me and how they’d gotten there. And wondering what that said about me and my core beliefs and the lessons I’d be passing on to my children.

I told you. White liberal. It’s what we do.

Anyway.

I don’t actively seek out diversity. If you asked me I’d tell you it’s because I don’t see color. I seek out friends and peers based on similar interests and intriguing personalities. But does that, as Kelly suggests, mean that I wind up being exclusionary by default?

No way, I told myself as I pondered my social consciousness. I have gay friends! In fact, I know a gay man AND a gay woman! And better still, my husband’s best friend is Mexican! And one of my good friends is Pakistani! And she’s married to an Indian!

And I’m two seconds away from telling you some of my best friends are black.

Jesus. When I start to look at my circle of friends that way, I feel like I’m gathering up token races and ethnicities to complete a set. All I need now is a Native American and I’ve got Yahtzee!

And now I’m utterly confused.

The last thing I want is to insulate myself or my kids from the diversity that this country – and the world as a whole – has to offer. There is real danger that grows from that kind of ignorance. And yet, I don’t want to begin befriending people because of the color of their skin and the cultural learning experience that they can provide to my family.

“Hello, yes, you there. You look ethnic. What are you doing for Sunday dinner? Me and my socially tolerant and diverse family would like to invite you over.”

Somehow I doubt that is what Kelly was suggesting.

But what’s the answer?

No. Seriously. This is the shit I think about. If we run the risk of not seeing color simply because there isn’t any color in our lives to see, is the solution to seek out opportunities to “diversify”? And if we do, doesn’t that type of ulterior motive sully both the seeker and the sought?

At the risk of opening a shitcan of worms, Oh Great Blogosphere, discuss.

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  1. avitable says:

    Amy’s part Native American, so you can mark that down on your little diversity planner that you have next to your desk.

    I think Kelly had a valid point, but maybe not in reaction to Megan’s comment. Saying “I don’t see color” with regards to your friends or to the group of bloggers that you spend time with is not exclusionary, and that seemed to be the point that Megan was making.

    However, planning a conference like HappyS&M, aka BlissDom, and not considering the racial makeup of your speakers is exclusionary and “I don’t see color” is an excuse to exclude people that you don’t want to attend. With BlogHer having no less than three “Rooms of Your Own” that are about bloggers of color, it’s very clearly an issue that people feel strongly about, and it’s unfortunate that BlissDom made the conscious decision not to invite any speakers of color.

  2. whall says:

    As soon as she referred to “white conservative people” as somehow worthy of pointing out as a difference, I stopped reading what she had to say.

  3. avitable says:

    Whall, I think that’s shortsighted of you. She has something valuable to say, and she’s a very intelligent person with a perspective that neither you nor I will ever have.

  4. Mocha says:

    I used that term because it was in the context of what was being discussed at the time. I suppose I could have said, “white people” and left out the “conservative” part but then it wouldn’t have fit.

    But thanks for making my point for me. We’re never going to have a good conversation about such things whenever people stop listening.

  5. Robin says:

    I really think you’re backing yourself into a corner, Britt….

    I am saying this because I have (unfortunately) been a victim of the “token Black friend” syndrome, and I have a keen ability to establish when White people are seeking out my friendship just because they don’t want to appear racist….in all the times we’ve met, I just don’t get that vibe from you. Sorry, but I don’t.

    Just because a group such as BlissDom made a conscious decision to not invite any speakers of color (because those decisions are always conscious) shouldn’t make you question whether or not you have latent racist tendencies. And to be honest, that shit ALSO shouldn’t prevent people of color from GOING to these conferences, either.

    Yeah, I really REALLY hate when people say “I don’t see color” (only because 75 to 80% of the time it’s total bullshit), but if you really don’t see color when interacting with people, then it’s not my place to judge you, you know?

    I can judge your actions rather than your words and know that you aren’t a proponent of ignorance in general….and that includes Racism. You always seem to seek to understand first before you seek to be understood yourself, and someone who is racist can’t grasp that concept because they don’t have (or want) the capacity to understand others other than people like themselves.

    This should be a topic on your show.

  6. Robin says:

    @Whall – by not finishing the blog entry, you totally missed the point of what she’s trying to say. Were you afraid it would touch a nerve within you? ::shrugs::

  7. Tracy says:

    I’m a blogger of colour :)
    I don’t think you have to be defensive at all. If you don’t see colour you don’t see it. Fact is fact. If you don’t consider race at all when looking at a group, then you’re far far ahead of most people :)

  8. Hilly says:

    I don’t believe it when people say that they don’t see color. We all see color whether we’re black, white, or any color of the rainbow. We notice.

    What we choose to do in our lives, who we choose to have in them may not be BASED on color but we still see it. We’re proud to say we have a black friend or a gay friend because it makes us progressive and proves that we’re not racist.

    If we stop labeling our friends, wouldn’t *that* be the real progress? I’d truly like to never hear the term “my black friend Nina” or “my gay friend Mikey” again.

    I love people for being people, regardless of color. I am not sure that is the same as not seeing it though. Jeez, can I be any more redundant here?

    Anyway, brava to all of you ladies who are bringing out and discussing it! It’s important that these things be talked about honestly and not swept under the rug, no matter how uncomfy someone may feel.

  9. jester says:

    I think the phrase “I don’t see color” is utter bullshit.

    Cultural differences, religious backgrounds and social status are the most influential factors in who a person surrounds themselves with.

    You are friends with your childhood friends because you met them in church, in your neighborhood, or in your school which is based on your neighborhood or church.

    Your background influenced the college you went to, and therefore the friends you make there. And so on, and so on.

    I would say most thinking people, myself included, don’t necessarily go out of their way to befriend a person just because it fills some particular quota on your facebook page.

    I am often the token gay people like to parade about as their proof that they are worldly and open-minded.

    My being gay is only a small part of my personality or background.

    I also don’t think I should be judged by the amount of color on my list of friends. It speaks nothing to my respect for other cultures or races. It speaks only to my being born and raised in a predominately white suburb in a predominately white state.

    And I don’t need to parade my black or hispanic friends around as proof of my acceptance.

  10. Dan says:

    Given I come from a long line of horse thieves, why limit diversity to things like religion, race, ability, sex etc. Why not expand to occupation and family size and …

    Oh sorry, I see it has already happened.

    I think we can be diverse in many ways. And I also think that no matter how we believe we are open to diversity, there will still be gotchas we can see only in hind sight.

    When I was a young college student 35 years ago, one New Years Eve I was the only whitey at a party in Detroit. Given that I was staying with the family hosting the party, I was there for the duration. The 400+ people were (except for token me) Black and Hispanic. Until you have felt the discomfort of being different and standing out like that, you really don’t understand what everyday life is like for any minority. My friend and his family did everything they could think of to make me comfortable, but it is never enough in those situations. And once you have had that kind of experience? If you are a decent human being you will change how you act and what you do to make sure no one else ever feels that way.
    And if you are not decent? You will continue to act as before and learn nothing.

  11. Courtney says:

    I’ve often found myself in that same position – am I racist because I try so hard not to be racist? I don’t have an easy answer for you (or me), but I think that the very fact that you’re questioning it makes it clear that you are not one of the people who suffers from a serious case of close-mindedness.

  12. You can count me as your Native American friend if you want.

    I don’t see colour, I just see the oppression of my people by you white bastards. :}

  13. RebTurtle says:

    You know, this smacks of reverse-racism. If you don’t have a huge black, yellow, purple, transvestite, etc, audience it doesn’t make you exclusionary. It just means they’re not into you as much as middle-class white people are! If you went to a minority-specific area and cried that there weren’t enough white people there, they’d burn you at the friggin stake!

    I’m tired of being the guilty scapegoat when minorities feel underrepresented. They’re MINORITIES. They should have a roughly numerically proportional representation to their population. That’s not racism or eclusivity, it’s friggin statistical analysis!

    Whew, I have to stop listening to so much rap before I shoot someone……

  14. Mr Lady says:

    I deleted my comment. It was longer than your post.

    This is boiling my blood.

    Here’s what I’ll say, and I’ll not hijack your blog:

    If someone chooses to set themselves up as a “leader” in this “community:, if that’s their aspiration, they’d better be opening their damn eyes, and quick.

    You only don’t see the things you ignore. That’s all I’m saying. I, personally, love rainbows.

  15. I was at Alli’s table at lunch on Saturday at BlissDom and she was saying that when the panelists were chosen, they were chosen based on the value they brought to the topic. Someone apparently had called her out for not having an ethnically diverse group of panelists, so there was a discussion about it at the table.

    As a Hispanic woman, I can honestly say that the ethnicity (or religion, or political leanings-nearly all of which I am polar opposite from the organizers’ leanings now that I think about it, hah!) of the attendees as a whole or of any individual never even crossed my mind until that discussion was had at that lunch table. (Other than a joke Sugar Jones and I made about our big Latina butts on Twitter days before.) I would be offended if I was asked to be a part of a panel based on my ethnicity rather than what I could bring to the panel. Of course the organizers are going to reach out to the bloggers they are more familiar with that they feel have relevant experience to share-that’s kind of a no-brainer, right? So I guess the question becomes, is it purposeful that the organizer’s acquaintances were solely white, leading the pool of potential panelists to be likewise limited? My gut tells me no, it was not purposeful.

    While some may argue that not thinking of diversity when choosing the company you keep is a cop-out, I personally think that choosing the company you keep based on the individual’s character, without regard to their race/religion is the only way to be unbiased. If you have ethnicity in mind when placing value on your relationships with people, you *are* being racist. If you are excluding people you can relate to on more levels just because race is one of those levels, in favor of people of different races simply so you have a more diverse group of friends, the object of your racism is someone of your own race. I think that is every bit as wrong as excluding someone from your circle of friends simply because they are of a different race. (IMO, of course.)

    Now, that said, I do think that it is healthy to be introspective about one’s choices of friends to examine the basis of those decisions, but the fact is that a true racist would never do that. A true racist can not think for a moment that they are doing anything unethical or their entire foundation for discrimination falls apart.

    Bottom line, I want you to be my friend because you like ME. Not because you are lacking a Hispanic gal pal. Not because you need a fat girl in your crew. Not because you have too many conservative friends. And not because you have to round out your recovering agnostic corner.

  16. Kris says:

    No offense intended to Kelly from MochaMomma but I think her reaction is a bunch of bullshit in itself. Truly, no offense intended here.

    And I apologize for my rambling in advance just ignore me.

    We are all products of our environments (no getting into nature versus nuture please) in MY opinion. I grew up in a predominantly white christian area. Whites whites everywhere. BUT(!) when I went off to Europe for months on end I wasn’t in the least bit in shock that there are in fact people OF OTHER COLORS AND RACES AND RELIGIONS AND SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS ETC. ETC. out there(!!) OMG…really…this world isn’t completely white! I REALLY don’t see in color, I KNOW THERE ARE DIFFERENCES and by saying “I don’t see in color” doesn’t make me ignorant in any respect. However, being a product of my environment I may inadvertantly exclude certain groups from my playtime BECAUSE THERE ARE ONLY WHITE, CHRISTIAN PEOPLE WHERE I GREW UP, those are the only people I knew. Now, as a mom of four living in a more culturally diverse area I often go to lunch/movies/playgroups all manners of outings with many people of different colors, religions, races etc. I don’t invite Joan because she is Jewish, nor do I invite Norah because she is black. I invite these women because they are AWESOME people that I love to hang around. If I excluded “Jane Doe” it’s probably because I don’t really like her, not because she’s a white Mormon (just for the record I am also a white Mormon). I DON’T SEE IN COLOR Kelly, I see attributes in people beyond their labels.

    K.

    Does any of that make sense?

  17. DaDuck says:

    I find it funny, now that I don’t live there, that Americans get all worked up over the colour of someones skin. My friends are my friends because of WHO they are not their race, religion, sexual preference, telephone habits or whatever. I like people based on the kind of person they are. I don’t see people as white, black, yellow, red, I see them for them and THAT is how one should see the world. Until we do that we are doomed to live in a society that judges people and world filled with hatred and war.

  18. If it helps, I am a wheelchair bound, homosexual, lesbian, sort of near jaundice like, bad ass, Devil & Jesus loving atheist, waiting-list transexual, immigrant scrounger, tax paying monkey lover. And I don’t even live on your Continent (or planet).

    Tick those boxes if you’d like.

  19. Miss Britt says:

    avitable: YAHTZEE!!

    I think that Kelly’s comment may actually have been in response to the overwhelming tone of all of the comments. But Megan’s comment best illustrated, I thought, the collective response.

    That was kind of my thought – that maybe different principles apply when planning communities, etc. than your personal life. But then again… maybe not.

    whall: why? White convservative people ARE different than, say, black liberal people. In much the same way that you are different than me. The discussion was about the differences so it was a valid point to make.

    I understand the knee jerk reaction, but I know you’re capable of pushing past that long enough to hear what’s being said.

    Mocha: the defensiveness is a hard thing to shove down Kind of like the classic “white liberal guilt”. But you’re right. We have to learn, as adults, to push past our own insecurities and defensive reactions if we hope to have real conversations.

    And that goes for any topic.

    Robin: don’t be SORRY that you don’t. I’m glad to hear you say that. I would hate to think you could ever doubt the genuinenes of our friendship based on the color of your skin, my skin, or the skin of the rest of the people standing around us.

    Personally, I’m glad that Kelly – and you – brought up how you feel when people say “I don’t see color”. It would never have occurred to me that anyone took that as anything other than face value. But it’s obviously easier to believe someone doesn’t see color when they’re looking at my pale ass. :-)

    Hilly: “I love people for being people, regardless of color. I am not sure that is the same as not seeing it though. Jeez, can I be any more redundant here?”

    I think it was worth saying twice. That’s probably the entire point I was trying to make. LOL

    jester: OK, FINE. You’re no longer my token gay friend. Damn. Now I’m going to have to – wait! Can you ask UMB how he feels about that title?

    In all honesty, you’re not the only gay man I know, but I will tell you that when I think about discrimination, gay rights, etc. I do immediately think about how those thinks affect you. But that’s because I’m more familiar with (and care about) your story.

    Dan: I’d like to suggest that your experience isn’t exactly the same. Here’s why.

    I used to tell people about growing up amidst a racially diverse family. Specifically, I was the only white kid my age among all of my cousins and I was very aware of how different I was from my black or mixed relatives with their awesome hair that would do anything they wanted it to!!

    But I realized, not all that long ago, how arrogant that was of me to assume that that meant I knew what it was to be in a minority. Yes, I was one of a small group of white people (my brothers and mother included) – but I was also in a FAMILY. I knew that every single one of those people loved me fiercely and considered me one of their own.

    I have no idea what it is to wake up one day and realize you do not belong in the place where you were born.

    Courtney: closed minded I am not. :-)

    Backpacking Dad: DOUBLE YAHTZEE!

    Now get off my land.

    RebTurtle: “They’re MINORITIES. They should have a roughly numerically proportional representation to their population. That’s not racism or eclusivity, it’s friggin statistical analysis!”

    I think the problem is when even THAT is not happening.

    Mr Lady: man, and I didn’t even get the long version by email?? I’m disappointed! :-)

    But yes, I think that you have more responsibilities when you put yourself out there as a leader. But I can’t do anything about that.

    What I can do is take a moment to see if the decisions I make in my own life line up with what I profess to believe. And vow never to wear a Pooh Sweater.

    CheekySweetie: I’m a fan of introspection. I’m also glad that BlogHer is done on a slgihtly larger scale with the time and attention spent on being more representative of their audience.

    Although, maybe Blissdom was representative of their audience, too.

    Kris: I understand that what you’re saying is that you grow up around a bunch of white people, you tend to befriend a bunch of white people. You pick from the selection available.

    I grew up in small town Iowa. I get that, believe me.

    BUT – in Kelly’s defense, SHE was talking about an Internet conference. I think it’s safe to say tht there is a lot more diversity on the Internet than in small town Iowa. :-)

    *I* was the one that took it down to a personal level.

    DaDuck: I think the European perspective is definitely a different one.

    I think, in part, that Americans have a unique history with race and that it’s impossible for that not to color our current climate or discussions.

    SingleParentDad: dude, you’re a full house!

  20. SciFi Dad says:

    I’m of two minds on this.

    First, my sister (PhD in Women’s Studies – not for bragging, just for frame of reference of the source) would say that by not ensuring diversity they were perpetuating a problem, that sometimes “best qualified” means less than “best representation”. To overcome racism, we cannot just ignore colour, we have to acknowledge it and work with it instead of avoiding it. (Of course, her frame was about gender, but the argument works the same.)

    Do I agree? As a white male, that sort of thinking puts me at the bottom of the list because my race/gender have had all the opportunities thanks to a history of oppression, so I can’t say I like the idea. However, I do understand the rationale.

    Second, I don’t think seeing colour makes one a racist. Personally, I have friends who are different from me (be it racially, religiously, sexual orientationally – is SO a word, or whatever), and I see those differences just as much as I see the similarities. Because I am curious by nature, I also ask them about those differences in an effort to understand them (not to mention myself) better.

    Do I make an effort to “collect” as many differences as I can in my circle of friends? No. However, do I go out of my way sometimes to talk to the father watching his kids at the McDonald’s playground (shut up, you all take them there too) who is least like me instead of the other fat white guy with a blackberry (aside: I have no blackberry).

  21. DeannaBanana says:

    My son is 50% native American, so I believe you have a yahtzee by proxy. Just sayin. ;-)

  22. I love that my top post right now is a video of my big white face at a Catholic monastery. Sweet. Jesus.

    This is where I got stuck repeatedly during this process a while back: “And if we do, doesn’t that type of ulterior motive sully both the seeker and the sought?”

    I kept asking that question. And insisting that I don’t diversify for the sake of diversity.

    And then I realized that with Blog Nosh Magazine, I do. Damn.

    I deliberately created a magazine that would be as inclusive as possible, highlighting diverse opinions encompassing a cross-section of genres.

    It’s true that I never ever checked the color of the skin (and often not even the gender, unless I needed to clarify a pronoun) or religious background or sexual orientation of our contributors. But the very makeup of the magazine guaranteed diversity, so I sort of had that covered.

    Woo hoo! Where is my prize? We got em all!

    Why? Because my friends are diverse. Naturally. Therefore, it was only natural for me to create a community platform that represented their voices.

    That being said, I don’t think I should get a “diversity” badge of approval. I did it, not because it was the responsible thing to do (actually, I’m still not clear on that point), but because it was natural.

    My critics say that what comes naturally to me does not come naturally to others, so it is my responsibility to school them.

    Sigh.

    I have no idea. What I do know is that I could write a book on this.

    And can I say that I got sick to my stomach when I saw this post in my inbox? Yep. And then I wanted to pee a little when I saw you quote Kelly again, who made me feel like crap last time?

    Good morning, Britt, indeed.

    (this is where mean people then say, “Oh, because it’s morning we can’t talk about race?!” God help me. ;) )

  23. Miss Britt says:

    SciFi Dad: I love everything about your comment. All of it.

    I do think that the best way to address any problem is to work WITH it rather than avoid it. I am also the person who says “now, tell me again, how does anal sex feel and when did you try it the first time?” because I’m just really that curious. I love to hear Memo tell me stories about his family in Mexico. The differences are just as intriguing to me as the conversations where we end up rollin gon the floor laughing and pointing at one another screaming, “Oh my God! ME TOO!!”

    DeannaBanana: plus, you’re from Canadia! Sweet!

    Megan {Velveteen Mind}:
    “I love that my top post right now is a video of my big white face at a Catholic monastery. Sweet. Jesus.”

    Because isn’t that ALWAYS the way it goes? LOL

    “And then I realized that with Blog Nosh Magazine, I do. Damn.”

    I don’t think damn. I thnk that is probably a good thing. I think that here you cleary outlined the difference between personal relationships and platforms that call for purposeful inclusiveness and representation.

    “And can I say that I got sick to my stomach when I saw this post in my inbox? Yep. And then I wanted to pee a little when I saw you quote Kelly again, who made me feel like crap last time?”

    I’m sorry babe. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and like I said, I nodded in fast agreement with your original comment.

    The fact that Kelly also made me stop and rethink doesn’t negate your point OR your motives.

    You both have unique experiences and perspectives to share and BOTH of those points need to be brought to the table for us to understand one another.

  24. FyreGoddess says:

    I think that the concept of not seeing color is subjective. For example, when I say that I don’t see color, it doesn’t mean that I don’t actually see the skin color of the person I’m talking to. I’m not an idiot. However, I don’t use skin color as a basis for judgment. I live in a city – on the non-ghetto side of the boundary between ghetto and not-ghetto. I take the bus every day from one urban area to another. For me, there is little segregation in my day-to-day life.

    I’ll tell you, though, I see ALL the stereotypes and I know that there’s a lot of truth in them, otherwise they wouldn’t be stereotypes, but I see them on both sides.

    But you see, I don’t assume that the Mexicans don’t speak English, or that the black women are single moms or that the black men work manual labor. I don’t let the fact that their skin color is different from mine affect the way that I behave with them, just like I don’t assume that all the white people are in stable relationships and have a job. I know that there’s no universal truth for skin color.

    I was on the bus this morning, sitting with a group of (black) people I know when one of them said (kind of out of nowhere) “I voted for Obama because he’s black. I think that’s a really good reason, too. George Bush didn’t do shit for us, and no one is gonna tell me that I’m wrong for doing that. At least I voted.”

    And good for him for owning that. I personally disagree with that line of reasoning, but he owns it. The response he got from another (black) man was, “Huh. I voted for Obama because I thought he was the best man out there. I don’t care if he’s black.”

    I live in a city where there are more interracial couplings than I have ever experienced ANYWHERE in the US, but there’s still a sense of disparity. To be honest, I think it’s more about income level than it is about race. The better off you are, the more likely you are to shop at Supermarket X (“the white people supermarket) over Supermarket Y (“the everybody supermarket”). I’ve known professional black men and women, but they are the minority. More often they’re working in manual labor jobs or in jobs that are outside of the mainstream, and it’s not usually out of laziness, but because of a lack of professional-level skills or a desire to not lose touch with their (lower-income) roots. Statistics back this up.

    I work in an office where there are a lot of Indians (from India) and on the overall campus there are a lot of Asians. There are *very* few blacks, except for in the manufacturing sections. If I lived in a “better” neighborhood and didn’t take the bus, I could go days at a time without ever seeing a person more than two or three shades darker than me.

    But that makes me uncomfortable. Because of the income level issue, having come from very low income parents, I relate better to people who come from similar circumstances. I can’t spend too much time around the privileged or those who play the “keeping up with the Joneses” games. Give me a working class neighborhood on the outskirts of the ghetto. Give me people who are REAL, no matter what color their skin is.

    The only time color *factors in* to my life is when I’m describing someone.

    But I guess that’s a whole lot rarer than lip service. I’ve had white friends go into the whole “everyone is racist” blah blah blah, going so far as to accuse me of being racist in front of a large number of my black neighbors. Maybe that’s true, but I don’t see it. If someone is visibly uncomfortable or isolated at an event where I am, I’ll go to them and try to make them feel at ease. If it’s a black person, then clearly I’m targeting him/her because of his/her color, except that I’m not. If I call some teenagers “ghetto rats”, it’s because they’re acting like ghetto rats, and there are just as many white ones as there are black ones.

    It’s about judging people. That’s the part that almost everyone misses. It’s the idea that “all [heritage] people are…” that falls flat. I don’t do that. I judge people, yes, but I do it based on actions, behaviors and words.

  25. “And I’m two seconds away from telling you some of my best friends are black.”

    I nearly fell over laughing from that. One of my best friends *is* black. And a very good blogging friend is too, we’ve all met, you know, and I bet she’s commented on here….(scrolls up to see)..yep she has, very intelligently.

    I can’t say I’m *not racist* because I think, honestly, all people, I repeat ALL PEOPLE, have some sort of racist/negative thoughts about people not of their own race, and even some of their own race. Now whether or not they voice the opinions or how they act on them, is a complete different matter.

    I can’t say I “don’t see color” because I do, but I also don’t let color be an issue unless someone else brings it up. Also, I try to disregard stereotypes — until I am faced with one. Then I let my mental guard down and question whether or not those stereotypes are justified? And I mean this will all races, even my own. But I simply keep that in my head, and don’t feel the need to voice it to the world, because I don’t want the strife.

    I think just being yourself you attract nice, funny, intelligent people, and obviously it’s great that some are of other races, because you can learn, and help spread diversity equality.

    I think color shouldn’t be an issue, but I know with some people it always will be. But I thoroughly hope someday, it will cease to be….someday humanity will figure it all out.

    Until then, all we can do is be ourselves, and hope the good people rub off on the not-so-good ones.

    p.s. did I mention I’m half Colombian, one of my brothers is half black, and my sister is marrying a black man? Did I also mention said Brother-in-law-to-be is a better person than my other brother, who’s also half Colombian? See??? color has no issue with me, it’s the people themselves! *rofl*

    p.p.s. wow seriously, I bet people are gonna be pissed about what I said just there….but I don’t care. maybe I’ll get some blog traffic? LOL

  26. I think the larger point that I was trying to make in response to all of this is that if I have, say, black/ lesbian/ Indian contributors at Blog Nosh and don’t know that they are black/lesbian/Indian, then does that mean that I am diverse or exclusionary? When you see a diverse community, is it necessary to know their intention, research practices, and thought process before you can label them as diverse?

    When I publish content on Blog Nosh, I rarely even go to the blogger’s blog before I publish the post. I don’t know if they have a polished blog or a Polish mother. All I know is that their content is solid.

    When I accept new editors for a particular channel, I do read their blog for quality and depth of genre, but I don’t research the color of their skin, religious background, or sexual orientation. I just want to know if they have a sharp eye.

    Now, if I end up with a diverse community, how should someone interpret that? Is it fair that I’m not criticized for exclusionary practices when I didn’t double check that someone was black or not? If I ended up with a 90% African American community but didn’t realize it, is it fair that I’m not labeled as exclusionary?

    I chose based on talent. Is it my fault if they mostly ended up Jewish? Or Wiccan?

    I get iffy when we start questioning motives. My magazine, for instance, is inclusive because my personal community is inclusive. Because it’s my community, meaning the people I read and the people that read me. But did I seek out lesbian readers? No. But that doesn’t make them any less part of my community any more than the fact that I didn’t seek out Catholic or Mormon readers. Lord knows I didn’t seek out the Mormons. They so crazy. (see, this is me joking)

    By the way, I know none of this stuff was originally about me, but I had to use me as an example because I can talk me all day. And if anything came out of it for me, it was that I realized that I do make very deliberate efforts to be inclusive, but more opinion-based than racially. Which maybe should change, if in fact, the people of color that I have as part of my community don’t actually count because I didn’t seek them out based on the color of their skin. Sucks for them. Ack. See my problem?

  27. Finn says:

    When I was in high school, a black guy asked me out. I turned him down. He asked me, point blank, if it was because he was black. I couldn’t answer the question. All I knew was that I wasn’t attracted to him. Was that because of his color or something else? It took me a long time to work that out.

    I see color; I just don’t give a shit about it. My friends are my friends because we have things in common and they make me laugh, they make me think, they make me happy. Sometimes I believe we tend to overthink these things — because we’re thinking, caring people.

    That being said, when planning a major event like BlissDom, diversity should be a concern because the audience is diverse. And different perspectives add a depth and dimension that’s impossible to achieve with a homogenous panel.

  28. Miss Britt says:

    I am never going to get any work done today.

    FyreGoddess: To be honest, I think it’s more about income level than it is about race. The better off you are, the more likely you are to shop at Supermarket X (”the white people supermarket) over Supermarket Y (”the everybody supermarket”). I’ve known professional black men and women, but they are the minority. More often they’re working in manual labor jobs or in jobs that are outside of the mainstream, and it’s not usually out of laziness, but because of a lack of professional-level skills or a desire to not lose touch with their (lower-income) roots. Statistics back this up.”

    And that, I believe, is the strongest case FOR affirmative action.

    Cissa Fireheart: funnier still? When I wrote this I was trying to think of a black person I knew that I could throw in for reference (for my chess set analogy) and I complete forgot Robin was black. HAHAAHHAAH I mean – not that I don’t KNOW that, I just didn’t think about it.

    Megan {Velveteen Mind}: I get what you’re saying.

    BUT. Let me ask you this -

    IF you had gone and done some digging and realized that your contributor base was NOT diverse – how would you have felt? What would you have done or considered doing? It’s one thing not to pursue it – it’s another to have it pointed out to you and not consider it.

    To use another non blogging example – if I realized, for example, that my children had never in their lives seen a person who wasn’t white – if it was pointed out to me – I’d say it might be time to take them out of the neighborhood for a little while to make sure they were exposed to what else was out there.

    Also, I don’t think it was accidental the diversification you talk about at Blog Nosh. Seeking different opinions is going to result in diversification. It’s going to result in finding people with different perspectives and experiences. You just went about it a different way.

    You know, now that you mention it – maybe that’s my answer to my own question. I don’t actively seek out friends who are multi-cultural. But I do keep my life open to different people and different ideas. It would seem that having a multi-cultural circle of influence becomes the natural byproduct of that.

    So maybe we should stop asking “why are we not reaching out to WOC?” but “are we seeking different experiences and perspectives? How can we measure that?”

    Not to bring it back to Blissdom, because that really wasn’t the point of THIS post, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that the perspective of the contributors there is pretty homogenious. Chicken, egg, blah blah blah – you know? And when it was pointed out – there were a gazillion speakers included. Would a gazillion and ONE to help provide a more well rounded/well balanced body of information not have been a better idea than resorting to “oh, well, I just don’t see color”?

  29. Miss Britt says:

    Finn: dude, you pretty much stole my comment AS I WAS TYPING IT! LOL Eerie.

  30. Britt, I totally agree. Had I realized that Blog Nosh was not diverse, I would have been ashamed because it would not have been a reflection of the people I am seeking to serve. As it is, diversity was a natural byproduct of the magazine because Blog Nosh seeks to expose readers to diverse content they would not otherwise seek out.

    D’oh. I just heard myself.

    Our whole point, and on a smaller level– how I set up each daily issue of two juxtaposed posts, is to expose readers to genres they would not seek out on their own. (and let me guess, I probably didn’t do that today)

    Let’s keep in mind that everything I have written so far is in the realm of the Internet only. How I live my real life is different. I would never say “I don’t see color” when it’s right in front of my face. Online, I just don’t go searching for photos and baptism certificates of every single blogger and twitter follower I enjoy. Either I am engaged by your character or not.

    Regarding BlissDom, I’m not part of BlissDom, so I can’t speak for them. But I do suspect that adding a “token speaker of color” felt insincere after their oversight/ exclusion/ what-have-you was pointed out. That was a no-win situation and I’m fairly sure the lesson was learned.

    For some bizarre reason, I have gotten really defensive of the fact that Blog Nosh IS diverse. That’s crazy. That should be a good thing. But because it was a “natural byproduct” and not a mission to fill a quota, I don’t want to even claim the label. I mean, our focus is opinions and experiences, not token-filling.

    Tell me what that means! (and um, thank you for letting me sort of blog on your blog today)

  31. NYCWD says:

    I could end up writing yet another post in these comments, but I’m going to try not to.

    Do I see color? Sure I do. Does it change how I may initially interact with a person in either a social or professional setting? Sure it will because color may be an indicator of beliefs and I will not look to offend someone by, let’s say, giving them a Royale with cheese. Does their color provoke me or inhibit me in building a relationship with them based on common interests or ideas? No… because if we have these common interests and a like mindedness then that will prevail over color of skin, religous beliefs, or sexual preferences.

    Therein of course lies the problem. Commonality, or more specifically the lack of it, is in fact the great divider. The internet has been a great equalizer where no one will necessarily know your name much less your race or sex, making it harder to blame skin color as the culprit of exclusion. It’s a hard pill for some people to swallow that they may in fact just have different priorities, opinion, and experiences that will not necessarily allow them to fold neatly into the flock majority instead of the millenia old standby of skin color.

    Therein concludes my comment regarding your actual topic… BUT… I can’t help but notice that Susan Mernitt who wrote the blog post describing Blissdom as a faith based conference is a contributing editor for BlogHer. I also can’t help but notice that MochaMomma is a BlogHer member too. So guess what? BlogHer is dirtier than the GOP in that they have played the race/faith card against their competition.

    Yes ladies… mommyblogging has now achieved corporate mongering status.

  32. NYCWD says:

    @Finn because Britt got rid of her commenting reply feature… Just out of curiosity… how do you feel about the NAACP Image Awards? If Blissdom has such a diverse crowd… well then doesn’t the NAACP also have a diverse crowd in the television watchers of America?

    And yes… I mention this specifically because those harlots on The View including Miss Nasty Babs Wawa beat out Oprah.

    I mean for Pete’s Sake… it’s OPRAH people!!!

  33. FyreGoddess says:

    “And that, I believe, is the strongest case FOR affirmative action.”

    Eh… I like affirmative action in concept only. I think that what really needs to happen is that additional consideration needs to be given to people, regardless of gender or race, who have come from difficult circumstances. And entry-level job at any company isn’t going to be any worse served by someone who comes from disadvantaged circumstances than from someone who comes from a situation where everything they wanted and needed was handed to them. In fact, you may be better served by someone who has worked hard to get where they are in life.

    But it shouldn’t be based on color or gender. There should be something that takes circumstance into greater consideration, because it’s people who come from difficult *circumstances* who need the leg up, not those who happen to be “not a white male”. You know?

  34. Finn says:

    @NYCWD: Well… knowing what the NAACP is about, I wouldn’t expect it to be diverse. If BlissDom was put on by Daughters of the Confederacy, I wouldn’t expect diversity either. If this was supposed to be some kind of blogger convention, the panel should have better reflected the community at large. Admittedly that’s diffcult given that we all don’t post our ethnicity in our “About” sections, but it’s something for them to consider next time.

    Maybe the NAACP was trying to be inclusive when it awarded “The View.” Or maybe they simply chose ignore the white people on the panel and made it an homage to Whoopi.

  35. Dave2 says:

    I see color. I like color. I embrace color. This world would be a pretty boring place if I looked at everything as shades of gray.

  36. Mocha says:

    Just to be clear about what I was referring to since this seems to go off topic and becomes all about how we all have different races/ethnicities/sexual orientation (I hate that phrase, but what else fits there?) friends and how we don’t discriminate:

    This wasn’t about some arbitrary “I didn’t get invited to so-and-so’s bat mitzvah” or “No one asked me to play bridge at the club!” kind of thing. This was a direct response to someone providing a conference for people who write. ON THE INTERNET. A really vast place, right? You’re collecting people from all over to attend and you don’t go out of your way to ensure diversity?

    I still call bull on that one.

    Again, this is one of those things Americans do that makes us feel really uncomfortable but the conversation needs to happen. Instead of vehemently defending the position of NOT reaching out why not listen to the people who are asking to be heard? My reaction is what it is – an honest, heartfelt one that comes up again and again. I could have the conversation with JUST bloggers of color, but then we wouldn’t get anywhere.

  37. NYCWD says:

    @Finn: See, I think their panel did in fact reflect the best their community had to offer in the areas that were covered as opposed to requiring a diverse ethnicity first and qualifications later. I think if they actively look for a diverse panel next time, they’re authority and presentations will suffer. Is that really the message they should send?

    I love Whoopi. She used to frequent the Garden alot and she’s a total riot. Still… it’s OPRAH!!! And The View includes that Elizabitch moron… so they basically endorsed her. End of times… end of times…

  38. Sybil Law says:

    I’m just friends with people based on whether or not I like them and respect them and trust them- definitely not on what color or gender they are. I don’t actively go out and choose people who are from different backgrounds/ races, but it somehow works out that way. (Oh and I am also Native American, so you can invite me to your socially diverse gatherings!)

  39. NYCWD says:

    Mocha Seriously… they are your corporate competition and you are trying to bury them.

    If you were really all about the whole “collecting people from all over to attend and you don’t go out of your way to ensure diversity?” bit, then you would not be so supportive of BlogHer, which is a sexist organization who won’t consider presenters without vaginas.

    Having a penis is the new black.

  40. Finn says:

    @NYCWD: I honestly have no clue what BlissDom was about. But you bring up a good point — finding the balance between finding qualified speakers and trying to keep it diverse isn’t easy. I don’t have an answer for that. What would you think about a blogging conference that didn’t include women as speakers (assuming it wasn’t put on by the He-Man Woman-Haters Club, of course). ;)

    I try to forget about Elizabeth. Very hard. And I love Whoopi too. But yeah, OPRAH.

  41. Miss Britt says:

    Megan {Velveteen Mind}: See! With the talking! And the pshing through the nausea!

    We are so fucking progressive.

    NYCWD: actually, i think the hard pill to swallow is when someone pretends to be all inclusive and lovey dovey and their actions suggest otherwise.

    You don’t want to include me? Fine. But don’t smile in my face and pretend like my opinion matters. And when I ask you about it, don’t pretend like you just forgot or something. At least then I can be openly pissed about you not valuing me. :-)

    FyreGoddess: completely agree, which is why I always hem and haw and stammer when the issue of affirmative action is brought up.

    Finn: “If BlissDom was put on by Daughters of the Confederacy, I wouldn’t expect diversity either. If this was supposed to be some kind of blogger convention, the panel should have better reflected the community at large.”

    I think that was kind of the original point of the original post.

    Granted MY post was just wondering how I could apply that on a smaller scale to my own life – or if I should.

    Dave2: Amen.

    Oh! Wait! Hey everyone! I almost forgot!

    I KNOW A BUDDHIST TOO!!!

    Mocha: yeah, I’m sorry. It gets to be a muddled mess when you try to show “this is where my thought process started” without quoting an entire article in context. It’s a slipper slope I almost always fuck up.

    BUT – I do agree that we need to continue to do the things and have the conversations that make us uncomfortable. And this:

    “Instead of vehemently defending the position of NOT reaching out why not listen to the people who are asking to be heard?”

    literally made me tear up a little. And I’m not even PMSing.

    Sybil Law: damn – I’ve got a whole tribe going on here and didn’t even know it!

    NYCWD: OK, I’m sorry – you haven’t been speaking to me but I have to address this finally.

    The suggestion that Blissdom is competition to BlogHer is laughable. From the outside it may appear that they are two “communities” targeting “female bloggers” and therefore competition. But from the inside – um, no. The differences go so far beyond that it is ludicrous to compare the two.

    It’s similar to suggesting that Huffy is competition for Toyota. Sure, they’re both modes of transportation – but the similarities end there.

  42. Mocha says:

    @NYCWD That’s so sweet of you to think I’m even capable of trying to bury some corporation. The breakdown of why I didn’t go to Blissdom was thus:

    Two weeks ago: WTF is Blissdom? Oh, look. Some of my friends are going. Wonder if it appeals to me. Hell, I wonder if I could get time off work to do it.
    Two seconds after that: Hell no. Can’t get time off. Can’t go.
    Five minutes after that: Whoa. Where’s the diversity?
    Ten minutes after that: I leave a question/comment on Mrs. Fussypants’ blog which goes completely ignored. Even to this day.

    Full disclosure: I wish I had a penis. This is all about penis envy.

  43. FyreGoddess says:

    “This was a direct response to someone providing a conference for people who write. ON THE INTERNET. A really vast place, right? You’re collecting people from all over to attend and you don’t go out of your way to ensure diversity?”

    I don’t know how diverse it really is out there, especially when you’re talking about the niche of blogging.

    I ran a simple and basic search for the demographics of bloggers, and most places don’t even discuss race. The couple that do pinpoint black bloggers at around 12% and hispanic bloggers around 20%. That’s both genders. I couldn’t find a breakdown of gender and race. This isn’t an accurate reflection of society at large. I know that blacks make up a greater percentage of the US population than of the blogging community.

    Also, only 34% of bloggers are women and there are a much larger number of women-oriented blogger conferences out there than there are non-gender-specific conferences or conferences that cater to men. So the simple fact that women are having so much focus in the blogosphere goes completely against the idea of demographic proportion.

    Honestly, I think that if there’s a dearth of black women, or black women speakers, or black women bloggers or *whatever* it is that’s at issue, then maybe it needs to *start* with bloggers of color. Maybe there needs to be a push to say “Hey, we’re a legitimate part of your community who is falling through the cracks”. But the bottom line is that the demographics don’t back up the idea that there’s the same level of diversity on the internet, or even in the blogosphere as there is in the real world.

  44. NYCWD says:

    @ Finn- Honestly I think it would depend on what the blogging conference was about. Let’s say it was a Tech conference, where I would expect Leo LaPorte, Scoble, and of course Jobs. If there were no women, like Amber McCarthy, Cali Lewis, and iJustine, then I wouldn’t bother. I think it would really depend on the topic. These “female blogger rawr” conferences just don’t take this stuff into account… and their presentations suffer from it.

    @ Britt- Oh I understand that there are people out there like that… and there probably will be on both sides for quite some time no matter

    As far as comparing BlogHer to Blissdom, one is the current queen and the other is the upstart. While I like the Huffy analogy greatly… that’s a bit far off. One targets the male under 18 crowd and the other targets the over 18 both gender crowd.

    As you mentioned, both BlogHer and Blissdom are targeting “female bloggers”, but to dismiss Blissdom so definitively is premature… the last time in fact the upstart was so quickly and easily dismissed was when Tom from MySpace dismissed a little upstart you may have heard about… its called Facebook. So yeah… I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss them just yet…

  45. NYCWD says:

    Also, only 34% of bloggers are women and there are a much larger number of women-oriented blogger conferences out there than there are non-gender-specific conferences or conferences that cater to men. So the simple fact that women are having so much focus in the blogosphere goes completely against the idea of demographic proportion.

    I <3 FryeGoddess.

  46. NYCWD says:

    @ Mocha Well I did say trying to bury them… but your welcome.

    You still haven’t addressed the question why if you’re all about diversity you’ll still attend BlogHer who chooses genitalia as a prerequisite to authority in presenters. It’s okay… I don’t really expect an answer on that because it puts you into a corner where you really don’t have a good answer for… hmmm… sounds familiar.

    Total Disclosure: A penis really isn’t all that… it doesn’t even do a monologue.

  47. Mr Lady says:

    Facebook didn’t copy MySpace’s business model.

    Complaining about BlogHer not having men speakers is silly. It’s BlogHER. It’s a website for women. They give no allusions to the contrary.

  48. Willie G says:

    * There is no such thing as racial colorblindness. The very fact that one can state “I don’t see color” is an acknowledgement that color exists.

    * We miss the point when we make “Diversity” a merit badge.

    * Our race relations agenda should not be homogenization, but one of “unique and equal.”

    * Society has a responsibility to foster acceptance and integration while fiercely guarding the rights of the individual. Forced exposure cannot guarantee acceptance.

    * Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

    * ThanksKBye

  49. avitable says:

    Mr Lady, I disagree about BlogHer. They’ve said time and time again that they are open to everyone, regardless of gender. Excluding male speakers simply based on their gender, regardless of what benefit they might offer to the audience, is short sighted on their part.

  50. Wonder says:

    Dan’s story about being the only white person at the party illustrates the larger point very well. So, if
    I understand this right, Kelly is saying that because people at the party were not walking up to him and inviting him into their conversations they were all being exclusionary. It would have been nice of them to do so, but to feel that it was everyone else’s job to do so is a very narcissistic line of thinking. I contend that it’s Dan’s job to get off the wall and begin introducing himself. If people then turn their backs they are now being exclusionary.

    Britt, you obviously have much respect for Kelly so, by proxy, I do as well. But:

    “The whole issue of exclusionary practice is news to most white, conservative people. When faced with a query like this the first reaction is defensiveness.”

    Of course people get defensive, this is a racist statement and if I were capable of being offended by anything, this would do it. This is a passive aggressive statement designed to put white people back on their heels and make anyone with a modicum of “white guilt” immediately begin questioning themselves and whether or not they are being “accidentally racist.”

    I’ll say it again, It is Dan’s job to get off the wall. If people exclude him because he is white, then they are being racist. If people are excluding him because he begins every conversation by whining “no one will talk to me” then he is being a dick and deserves their exclusion. Believing that because I am shy everyone should cater to me is a prime example of the “entitlement” that is plaguing this country.

    Read into this what you will.

  51. Miss Britt says:

    FyreGoddess: While the Internet may not be as diverse as the world at large – it is definitely more diverse than the panel at that particular convention.

    And, more specifically, the audience that organization says that it targets is more diverse than their panel reflected. I think THAT is what might have hit the nerve.

    NYCWD: my comparison had nothing to do with size. At all.

    And I’m going to reiterate that on the outside the business model is similar, but in reality it is not at all similar.

    BlogHer is not only about benefiting as a company from their members, but in offerin it’s membership some type of reward. It’s about creating a more powerful group as a whole than the individuals would be – um – indvidually.

    Blissfully Domestic is in no way, shape or form that. At all.

    The business models are completely different – although, as I said, the outward appearances sure are similar.

    ALSO -

    I find it ironic that on one hand people are bitching that Blogher isn’t inclusive and on the other pointing out how small women are in the blogosphere.

    That was the point. To give a “minority” a collective voice that could actually be heard.

    Now that it’s working, the majority is claiming exclusion. Fucking spare me.

    Mr Lady: and it’s that transparency that makes me respect BlogHer and makes the arguments against it silly. Exactly.

    Willie G: “We miss the point when we make “Diversity” a merit badge.”

    Agreed. I think we also miss the point when someone uses the word diversity and we assume they mean “merit badge”.

    And while forced exposure doesn’t guarantee acceptance – and I’m not advocating global acceptance because COME ON – proclaimed acceptance would, I would think, suggest exposure of some kind.

  52. Miss Britt says:

    Avitable: ACTUALLY, and you know this, BlogHer has time and again asked it’s PAYING ATTENDEES if they want men to be speakers. The attendees have said no – that the message is a collective voice of women. In light of that, I think BlogHer has gone above and beyond to include men in the discussion in many, many ways.

    I would think your own experience with BlogHer would confirm that.

    Wonder: Here’s why I respect Kelly, to use your own analogy:

    If she didn’t get invited to a party, she knocked on the door and asked if she could come in. If she got let in, she was the one walking up to people saying hi, and wondering why in the fuck people were ignoring her, pretending like she wasn’t there.

    That’s difficult to grasp from just this post- but that is, I believe, the case.

    And in all of my conversations with Kelly, this is the only one I can remember ever being about race. And it wasn’t even a conversation with me.

    By the way – you’d like her too. I hear she has great tits. ;-)

    P.S. – TWO MORE DAYS UNTIL YOU ARE HERE!!!

  53. Mr Lady says:

    @avitable My husband goes to an annual conference for people in his very specific line of work. Let’s say he’s a New England crab fisher. fisherman. Should they include me in their conference? I mean, I’ve worked in his same field before. Sure, I fish for Alaskan sea crab, but it’s actually harder work and not as many people do it, and hot damn our stories are better.

    They should totally let me present something. It’s messed up that they don’t.

    Except it’s not. I would love nothing more than to see men at BlogHer. I signed up to attend your room of their own, and I’m really excited for it. I WISH there were more men involved, but that’s not what BlogHer does. That’s not their purpose. They have a business model, and they’re sticking to it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    And last year, community keynote, there was a guy. They gave a guy a spot thousands of women, members and contributors to blogher, applied for. It seems to me like they’re testing the waters.

  54. Burgh Baby says:

    I think that everyone tends to gravitate towards people with similar likes, value systems, and priorities online. When those likes, value systems, and priorities are a little extreme, they automatically become exclusionary. Whether it starts to bleed over into race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc. depends on the specific similarities the person seeks out.

    As a general example, I am a working mom, so I gravitate towards working moms. But, if I am a little “extreme” in my beliefs and start to think that women who choose to stay at home are making a mistake, I automatically exclude a huge set of people from my inner circle. That could easily bleed over into unintentionally discriminating based on income, education level, religious beliefs.

    Thank goodness I married a Native American. I totally get to say I’m not guilty of discrimination. YAHTZEE!

  55. That’s a hard one. I’ve always said I was “color blind” I have to think in order remember that I have Korean, black, Mexican and gay friends and coworkers.

    Are they your friends because they’ve assimilated? or because you’re colorblind and accepting of people of all colors. It’s hard to say. There’s a lot of layers and subtext.

    On the other hand, why should change your interests and assimilate to another culture to have more diverse friends?

    It goes both ways. I think people are quick to call something racist- but at the same time, there exists A LOT of racism.

  56. Ally says:

    I don’t think people should stop “seeing” color. I think judgments shouldn’t be made about someone based on their skin color, their religion, their culture, etc; but I don’t believe that we should all just refuse to see color.

    How boring would the world be if there was no color? Because color is diversity. Religion is diversity, and so is culture. Sexual orientation and ethnicity are as well.

    Do you see no diversity? No, because that would be a ridiculous claim. Of course you see diversity, and to deny the differences of the people around you simply because it’s easy is fairly reprehensible, in my opinion. That said, you’re friends with people that “click” with you, and race (being the current topic) ideally shouldn’t play a part in the decision of who to be close with.

    There is nothing wrong with having an incredibly diverse set of friends, but there’s also nothing wrong with having friends that are just like you are – provided you aren’t actively excluding anyone, I honestly don’t understand how that can be seen as racism.

    Regarding the conference, I’m not “in the loop” when it comes to the Blogosphere – I have several blogs I read, and that’s the extent of my interaction. Setting up an event and failing to acknowledge the diversity of your audience, however, is never a good idea.

    /slightly off-topic ramble

    I hope everyone has a good day =)

  57. avitable says:

    I’m sure that the question that they ask all the attendees is heavily skewed so that they say that they want women speakers. You know was well as I do how surveys can be worded. For example:

    “What do you think about the quality of this year’s speakers? Is there anything you would change?”

    or

    “Did you feel that this year’s speakers were diverse enough?”

    etc.

  58. Mr Lady says:

    Avitable, it’s actually more of a “Do you think we should have guys speak this year?” The girls that run the thing tend to not mince words.

  59. avitable says:

    Mr. Lady, thank you for clarifying.

  60. NYCWD says:

    @ Miss Britt so now women are the minority? If that’s the case, then the Blissdom panel is fine! Granted, they had one man… but he was woefully outnumbered so the minority being the majority still ruled. See, there wasn’t any exclusiveness there!

    Oh wait.

    You were talking about specifically people of color. Relegating yourself to color specific minorities is exclusionary in itself. As I originally mentioned, it is the lack of commonality that divide. Blonde vs. brunette. Fat vs. skinny. Male vs. female. Black vs. white. Red vs. yellow. Republican vs. Democrat.

    Here on the internet we are often bonded to one another from first impressions through like-mindedness where none of those factors necessarily contribute (I say necessarily because of the whole Democrat vs. Republican bit). When it comes offline and the mosaic of ideas collides in a room or at a conference does it change the greater vision if its all the same color? The same sex? The same weight? The same political perspective? The same hair color? The importance is staying true to the ideals that gathered us together in the first place. People lose sight of that when they become blinded by things like color.

    Oh, and in the name of continuing to stir shit as I have already done…

    Miss Britt said: BlogHer has time and again asked it’s PAYING ATTENDEES if they want men to be speakers. The attendees have said no – that the message is a collective voice of women.

    Which is very similar to…

    The People of the United States said: The US has time and again asked it’s TAXPAYERS if they want women to vote. The taxpayers have said no – that message is a collective voice of taxpayers.

    Or perhaps more recently for you non-historians…

    The People of California said: California has time and again asked it’s TAXPAYERS if they want same sex marriage. The taxpayers have said no – that is the message of a collective voice of taxpayers.

    Just because the majority says “no” doesn’t make it necessarily right. Agreed?

  61. Mr Lady says:

    NYCWD: Did you really just compare issues of national concern with a 3 day recreational convention? If every American was required to attend BlogHer, you’d have a point.

  62. NYCWD says:

    Mr. Lady I absolutely did. The convention is representative of the values of those organizing and attending. So if you’re for BlogHer, you are for their exclusionary practices, and therefore you should not lay claim on righteousness over those who are expressing those same exclusionary practices elsewhere.

    That is called hipocrism. Look it up in the dictionary. It’s a fine portrait of you next to it.

  63. Erin says:

    As with most things, there is no way to make everyone happy all of the time. Using the conference analogy:

    If, no matter what the reasoning or lack thereof, your conference does not have a diverse panel of speakers then some will label you a racist (sexist, whateverist).

    If your conference does have a diverse panel of speakers but it happened accidentally and choices were not based on the presenter’s race, gender, whatever then some will label you a racist because you didn’t take the speaker’s race into account.

    If your conference does have a diverse panel of speakers because you made the conscious effort to choose speakers based on their race/whatever in addition to their views then some will label you a racist because a speaker should have just been chosen based on his/her merits, not their color, gender or whatever.

    Not to hijack your blog or anything Britt… but for the diversity police out there: isn’t the assumption that a panel of mostly [insert skin color, gender, orientation, whatever here] people will think the same and have had the same experiences racist as well?

    Okay, let the flogging of me begin :)

  64. Miss Britt says:

    NYCWD: DUDE! What the FUCK?

  65. Miss Britt says:

    Erin: I think if you only look at things at surface level – those assumptions could be made.

    But if you take the time and spend the energy to dig deeper you’ll find a lot more going on.

    I’d venture to say that, based on a lot of the comments here, few people are doing that.

  66. Mr Lady says:

    @nycwd Wow. That was 5th grade of you.

    There’s a new dad blog just come out called “dad bloggers.” Now, I co-write a dad blog, I’m more or less a single parent, so should I be able to contribute to Dad Bloggers. NO. Because I am not a dad, and they’ve made it abundantly clear that it’s a site for DADS.

    Some PR company just pitched me to let them write a post for my blog about baby supplies, and I told them no. I did so because A) I don’t have guest posters on my blog outside my immediate family and B) I don’t have a baby blog. Am I being exclusionary?

    Really, don’t call me names. I’m trying to have a grown up conversation. Say what you will; I’m not responding anymore.

  67. NYCWD says:

    @ Miss Britt- What??? Do I have broccoli in my teeth again???

    Damn vegetables.

  68. Miss Britt says:

    @NYCWD – no. But that response was really unlike you. I’m surprised. And, to be honest, disappointed.

    You are someone whose character I would vouch for any day of the week and I don’t usually see you resort to comments like that.

    You and I have disagreed over all kinds of things and you’ve never “spoken” to me like that before.

  69. Miss Britt says:

    And, um, not to be bitchy – but I DID look up “hipocrism” because I didn’t recognize the word and thought MAYBE you weren’t being as insulting as it seemed.

    And the dictionary said it didn’t exist.

  70. Willie G says:

    Hipocracy perhaps?

  71. Finn says:

    Hypocrisy? Is that what you mean?

  72. Willie G says:

    Hypocrisy…. Jeez… dur da dur

  73. Candy says:

    Britt, you’ve typed a mouthful there. It’s something I think about a lot myself.

    I’m married to man who is 15 years older than I. He’s 63, and he is trying very hard to shed skin that compels him to say things like, “I think Obama will be a great president. I don’t care if he’s black.”

    He means it, he doesn’t care. But to him, he’s still black. He cannot see past the color, even though he likes the man. Everytime we have this conversation, I tell him, “until you can stop referring to him as a black man, it matters.”

    This is not to say I’ve perfected that. I certainly haven’t. Like you, I have all the requisite friends of differing nationalities, religions and choices, and even a black step-son-in-law. But I do see the color.

    What I can say is that the color doesn’t influence me to like or dislike that person. But it’s still racist of me to think that way.

    I hate to think that what it will take to change this is a generation of children who are neither black/yellow/brown or white, but a generation who are a mixture of the two. My step-daughter and her black husband are expecting a baby soon. That child will find it harder to see color. Maybe that’s where it will start to be different. Although I think that’s unfortunate too, because in order to be accepting, we all have to look alike. Sigh. My brain hurts.

  74. ms martyr says:

    Dear Miss Britt,
    This great post and its comments have taken up all my free time before I have to leave for an appointment (and I haven’t even finished the comments) Kudos for bringing this up. You rock!

  75. Brittany says:

    Wow, this post is like a social experiment of epic proportions. i don’t even think i can add anything more of validity than what i just spent 20 minutes reading.

    I can say, I do see color, in the literal sense of the phrase, but I guess it’s not something that I do consciously. And, as far as I can honestly tell, I don’t take rank of them in my head, checking off another notch on the ‘ole melting pot of diversity bedpost. I have no idea the ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation of my readers, unless it is information they have shared with me. I don’t actively exclude or reach out to any one particular race in my writing.

    I have written, erased and rewritten this comment about 20 times, but I can’t quite get out what i want to say in the right words. I guess I am afraid to come across as insensitive, and maybe, that’s part of the whole problem.

  76. bo says:

    well, now that i’ve been also knocked on my intellectual ass…

    maybe, and this is a maybe, the trick is to ‘see color’ and then to disregard it. i can’t possibly conclude that growing up white had no impact on my station in life, or my life itself, any more than i can claim that growing up male didn’t. obviously, both of these things are major factors.

    i’ve met and am friends with and work with and hire people from many, many different backgrounds and it would be insultingly foolish of me to think for even a moment that each person’s gender, ethnicity, creed, or nationality has no impact on the person they are today.

    but it would be dangerously foolish of me to dwell on that. to think ‘oh, she reacted like this because she’s black.’ maybe she did…maybe she experienced something long ago as a result of her race that directly informed or affected her reaction at this moment. but maybe she didn’t. i can’t know that, unless i set my assumptions aside and just fucking ask.

    the truth is, with each and every person, you simply can’t really know that person if you’re operating with a set of assumptions. so it is unfair to either ‘not see’ color or to ‘continually see’ color, because, like it or not, in our culture, color carries assumptions. (i might add that color isn’t the only thing. gender, obviously, but subtler things like wealth, weight, posture, family, and so on.) recognize the things that bring about your assumptions, and then let them go.

  77. Faiqa says:

    OK. I stopped reading at the fiftieth comment… so I apologize to any commenters between 50-76 who may have already said this.

    People *better* see color when they see me. Because that’s who I am. I want people to see ME. I want them to understand that while you (Britt) and I have way more in common than we do not, one of the reasons I like you so much is because you are thoughtful about how we might be different. And, I am thoughtful about how you might be different than me. Our thoughtfulness not only enriches our friendship, but our *souls*. We are better for it.

    People who know me will attest to the fact that I RARELY get offended about anything. However, I do notice when someone dismisses the parts of me that are different- whether that is being Pakistani, Muslim, liberal, a woman, or an AMERICAN (often a source of great insensitivity in other parts of the world). How could I be friends, real friends, with a person who refuses to acknowledge any one of those parts of me — even on the smallest level? Yes, people have a choice. They can take me or leave me. But, if they’re taking? They have to take everything.

    If people act like these differences don’t exist or that they are negligible, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be more alert about the way the world works. And to expand our knowledge and awareness.

    So, yeah. I have “color” and it is my general requirement that the people who I choose to be friends with acknowledge that. It is also my general requirement that any associations that I involve myself, at least, acknowledge the issue of diversity.

    In terms of the inclusion of speakers/writers, etc. I think the contention that people were selected on the basis of their “value” was interesting. Who determines value? If everyone on the panel is of one demographic, then it’s unlikely that they’ve even been exposed to a significant degree to a great deal of blogging outside their demo. You simply don’t know what you don’t know. Until someone reminds you.

    Damn. I should’ve just posted this on *MY* blog.

  78. Dan says:

    I’m back to add that many people seem to have misinterpreted what I was getting at in my story. I must not have been clear enough in my writing.

    My point was that my friend and his family and the others at the party did their part to talk and include me. And I did my part to open conversations and mix and generally do what one does at a party. But that makes no difference when your inner self suddenly realizes you *are* different and alone in that difference. So the real point is that if you have made a situation where anyone for any reason is left feeling different and alone, you have failed to ameliorate the problem. It may be impossible to actually fix the problem, but one has to be aware of the problem.

    Avitable and NYCWD in round about ways picked up on my second point: no matter what the group, it is almost always possible to slice and dice so that there is some excluded group.

    Finally, Ms. Britt can you tell me how BlogHER excluding men speakers is any different than the AMA’s one time exclusion of Blacks. Both body’s paying members voted for the policy. That in no way made it right or morally correct. Part of the problem with battling discrimination in any form is that it is likely to cost you money if you are on the leading edge. And if you aren’t on the leading edge, you *are* part of the problem.

    I have found this to be an interesting discussion. Good question.

  79. Maria says:

    Men run the internet. The run rampart. All over this mother fucker. Tech, social media, gaming, startups – mainly men. BlogHer is a website catered towards women on the internet. Because they are the minority online.

    It’s really silly to me when people equate their practices to sexism. Just like when people pull the ‘Well why can’t we have White Entertainment Television or Straight Pride Parades?!?’ Well because you idiot, there’s no reason to celebrate the majority.

    Geeze. Just my HUMBLE opinion of course. :P

  80. Avitable says:

    Maria, personal blogging is run by women, and I also dispute your claim that men run the internet.

  81. pgoodness says:

    I’m exhausted just reading all the comments!
    I have only one thing to say – in all honesty, if no one posted pictures/avatars, I would have no clue of race of my bloggy friends.
    Now, statistically and obviously, we tend to befriend people that we have things in common with, so assumably most of my bloggy are probably middle class white chicks. It’s not to say that some aren’t other races or genders, but I would guess mostly white. Which honestly has NOTHING to do with race, but on the internets, has to do with what they write about.

    As far as the seminar, I would concur that picking the best people for the panel would be the ideal way to go. And if someone of another race/gender/planet/whatever felt they were slighted, they should probably let the powers to be KNOW that they are out there.

    The number of bloggers is astounding, so to say anyone was left out on purpose rings a little false to me. I don’t care if you’re a rainbow of colors, if you write something I like/can relate to, I’m gonna read you.

  82. Loralee says:

    I pretty much like most people as long as they aren’t assholes and I don’t get the vibe that I am intolerable in my dorky extrovertedness.

    That said.

    I admit to getting utterly excited and happy if the person I am clicking with has big differences from me. I love having diverse groups and friend because it is not the same old same old that I see every damn day of my life.

    I live in the whitest, most conservative place in America. 90% of the makeup here is Mormon. I am very OBVIOUSLY not a practicing Mormon and I will tell you I spend a lot of my time being excluded or feeling awkward and in the minority. (Not comparing that at all to race, but I will say it can suck a duck and there is a lot of shunning involved just for holding a Starbucks cup that isn’t fun.)

    So, if I meet and click with someone that is different than I am there is an added element of “YAY!” for me. Not so much race but ANYTHING that is different. Like they are an atheist or gay or Catholic or Jewish or raise goats or are African American or if they are in a much higher or lower class than I am in.

    ANYTHING that is a change from what I’ve had my whole life.

    Something that will bring a different point of view into my life. (Just like having a dorky quasi-Mormon may bring into theirs.)

    I have no idea if that makes me bad or not. Or insensitive or racist. I hope not, but again…I’m not sure I am capable of telling simply due to my life experiences and I cop to that. I don’t think that I would ever seek people out to be a token “anything” but I do cop to doing a happy dance at diversity when I’m lucky enough to get the chance to be around it.

  83. Polly Prim says:

    I find it interesting that the BlissDom conference is perceived as competing with BlogHer. Has BlissDom already become Avis to BlogHer’s Hertz?

    Maybe.

    The success of BlissDom demonstrates something that early adopters might not like: blogging isn’t edgy or arty or punk rock or Emo. Not any more.

    Newsflash: blogging has gone mainstream.

    Female bloggers are now more likely to be regular readers of Martha Stewart Living and Good Housekeeping than Bitch or Ms.

    They’re also likely to read each other’s blogs.

    We’re watching the death throes of the angst-ridden, Zoloft-popping, neurotic mommyblogger. Her medium is being usurped by members of the Junior League.

    One more point: blogs are media. They’ll be used to express the thoughts and feelings of the people who use them. These people might not agree with you about the importance of diversity.

  84. Faiqa says:

    “We’re watching the death throes of the angst-ridden, Zoloft-popping, neurotic mommyblogger”

    No way, dude. My Zoloft popping ass isn’t going down without cutting someone.

  85. Polly Prim says:

    LOL @Faiqa

    But BlogHer and diversity? Should walk the walk. Check out these faces:

    http://video.blogher.com/

  86. I had a paragraphs long blah blah blah on this whole issue (which: full disclosure, Megan and I also talked at length about it as well in both the general sense and as it applied to BlissDom) but I think right now I will reserve comment until cooler heads prevail (meaning, mine).

    My niece has a friend that has been to our house on average 2-3 times during the week and has spent the night countless times, sometimes for the entire weekend. I like the girl, like her parents and have let C visit their house, as well. The friend was all set to spend this weekend with C and have a ‘pampering weekend’ to get mani/pedis, facials and haircuts. This is obviously a special occasion, not something we regularly indulge in for 14 yr olds. Those plans have now been canceled because D (my husband) was home today when the friend and her mom came by and now suddenly, they ‘have other plans.’ The friend has met D before but her parents never had because he is on the road much of the time.

    And it’s things like this that make it bullshit when diversity in a group setting, in a purposeful meeting of writers, bloggers is overlooked or not given credence. It’s bullshit to ignore the questions when asked, directly to even consider your actions. People who are excluded, people who are left out, people who are marginalized and dismissed (as in, told to be happy with the little to no representation given) do not have the option of ‘ignoring it’ and sticking their heads in the sand because it’s not an annoying question, it’s not on the periphery, when it’s their lives and their existence and their experience, playing possum isn’t even an option and if we want an actual level playing field, it shouldn’t be an option for anyone. Particularly those who are self anointed and proclaimed ‘leaders’.

  87. Sarah says:

    I like what Hilly said. It sums up a lot of how I feel about it.

    Except that I must say I do discriminate about the friends I make at college. I’m sorry if you can’t properly balance a chemical equation we cannot be friends. Or at least ever take another science class together again.

  88. Gunfighter says:

    Yes, the “I don’t see color” line is bullshit. It is the province of those who seek to defend, not their racism, but their discomfort with race in general.

    I don’t see color is one of thos ties that bind white conservatives and liberals together… whether they want to believ it or not. Commonality, my friends, means a lot.

    That said, I must say that probably 95 percent of the 20 or so people that regularly read or comment at my blog, are white… women. Imagine that. MAny of them expressed dismay of the fact that I won’t be going to BlogHer (where I am a member) this year, either (hey, have it on the east coast and I am there people).

    What’s my poimt? My point is that people tend to be around people that are like they are. I’m a Lutheran. I go to church with Lutherans. I sosialize with people from my church… many of whom are white. We don’t have that in common… but we have our faith tradition in common. I’m also a professional fiurearms instructor. That field is overwhelmingly white, yet I thrive becasue I am exceptionally good at what I do.

    Commonality. We can’t pretend it doesn’t mean anything… because it means everything.

  89. Gunfighter says:

    My secondary point is that I should proof-read before hitting the “submit” key. Damned typos… whitey made me do it.

  90. Sexism and racism, as intolerable discrimination, are practices that presume differences of sex or race are relevant to a situation when, in fact, they are not.

    The BlogHer criticism happening here is a total red herring. Because the analogy is supposed to be with situations in which race is an obviously irrelevant criteria for exclusion or celebration, but such exclusion or celebration (or privilege) happens anyway. Like it or not, most people will not agree that racial differences say anything at all about intelligence, eloquence, competence, or perspective in fields like medicine, so a historical practice like the AMA’s (I presume this is the American Medical Association) of excluding people based on race is intolerable. But, again, like it or not, most people I think WILL agree that there are differences between the sexes at least of perspective that ARE relevant to something like social media and internet usage. It is the presumption that there are such differences, and that they are relevant to an issue, that separate the BlogHer position to privilege female speakers from the AMA position to exclude black members. Maybe some people disagree that these differences are relevant. But that is a dispute settled empirically (are there such differences?), not by analogy to racist practices. Because the jury is still out on whether it is possible for sexual differences to imply other differences. Not so with most racial differences.

    The Blissdom racial critique is an entirely different one: it is not contended (I think) that the organizers of Blissdom have either tacitly or openly RELIED on racial markers as differentia for selecting speakers, and that such differences are actually irrelevant for choosing speakers. The criticism is that they have either permitted a rejected idea, that the internet or blogosphere or the portion of it identified in its outreach and sphere of influence, is homogenous, to persist and represent them, or that they have not recognized that this idea is false and rejected and have not done enough to combat it. It is a criticism for inaction, rather than one of action, as the sexism-racism criticism against Blogher and the AMA is supposed to be.

    To figure out if Mochamomma is right or wrong means figuring out if the complaint of inaction is legitimate. NOT figuring out if BlogHer’s practices with respect to men are legitimate. Because the answer to that question won’t help, and wouldn’t help even if it did turn out that BlogHer’s practice was morally impermissible.

  91. As Britt’s Asian friend that threw her over the winner’s mark in Ethnicity Yahtzee, I suppose I should say something profound about now.

    I got nothing.

    I went to Blissdom and I even made the comment on my own blog that I was the only person of any Asian persuasion (heh, I rhyme) present. However, I didn’t feel excluded, I didn’t feel as if there were any racial lines drawn, I felt a sense of community…and for the record, I’m a Christian AND a liberal, hold on to your hats!…in the one thing that drew us there, a love of writing.

    I will also go to BlogHer and I will be looking for connections with people based on whether our personalities mesh, not on race/sex/orientation. Does that make me an ostrich, with my head in the politically correct dirt? Maybe.

    I think more so than race or sexual orientation, economic stratus is what divides people.

    It is the universal excluding factor.

    No one is complaining about the fact that there were probably hundreds, if not thousands, of bloggers who would have loved to attend, but couldn’t afford it.

  92. Julie says:

    Wow. My final conclusion: We’re WAY over thinking this on both sides of the aisle. Just move on through your lives, people, and some things will be fair and some won’t. You’ll know some people like you and some will be of a different background in many ways.

  93. Stephanie says:

    I’m sure I will echo someone’s comment, but I want to post before I read, so that I don’t forget what I want to say.

    So. You (collective you) say you don’t see color?

    Yeah. I call bullshit. Who doesn’t see color? Or sex or age or whatever? I grew in small town white America. I only knew white people. Hence, that was my circle of friends. I moved to big city Indianapolis, and went to a predominantly black high school. 80 percent of my friends were black. Why? Because I liked them. That was my demographic at the time. Of course I knew if my friend was black, or white, or yellow, or red. Of course. What matters here, is that I KEPT them as friends because of WHO they were.

    That probably sounds simple and convoluted, because that’s how I roll, yo.

    You’re thinking too hard about it, Britt. You like/love who you like/love. Don’t worry about the creation of a melting pot. You know deep down who your friends are, and I know, you really must know, that diversity shouldn’t be forced…it should be natural. Look around you, it IS natural in your life. You’re doing okay, kiddo.

    Thanks. Now I don’t have to write a post today. Too tired. Off to read the comments. After I pack a lunch.

  94. Bobita says:

    Many years ago I went to a restaurant with my husband, somewhere in northern Nevada. Ten minutes into our meal he said, “Do you get the feeling that I’m not supposed to be here?” I asked him what he meant and he explained to me that he was the only brown man in the place that wasn’t clearing tables or mopping the floor. “Really, I hadn’t noticed.” Because I prided myself on not seeing color.

    My husband went on to explain to me why it was so insulting to him to have a white person say, “I don’t see color.” Not seeing color is a Privilege for white people. It is a luxury that our friends of color do not have. And, for a white person to say “I don’t see color” to a person of color who has struggled against racism, it is dismissive, at the very least.

    In that small Nevada town, the fact that I did not see color was ludicrous and insulting to my husband, who was subjected to glares, hissing (yes, people hissed at him) and blatant hatred. Had I ever been subjected to the same treatment, I dare say color would be something I could never ignore.

  95. whall says:

    As a white, male, conservative hidden away in the vast sea of liberal-leaning blogs and readers, I know a few things about discrimination.

    Ha ha. Got you there, didn’t I?

    Those few things I know don’t mean diddly. Because fortunately, all the things are pretty darned minor. Yup, I’ve not had my life threatened. I’ve never lost out on a job opportunity due to my beliefs or race. I’ve never not gotten a loan I deserved. I get paid equitably. The only health risks I have are the ones that are self-imposed by bad habits. My last name doesn’t imply a specific race.

    I have it pretty cushy, in fact.

    The main problem I have with many people who write about this topic is the double standard in play. When I see someone write “white conservative” in a rant piece, I’m pretty sure their prejudice towards me is a LOT bigger than any prejudice I have towards them.

    If there’s to be equality, then let there be equality. No need to tip the scales the other way in every situation.

    It’s stupid for a girl to sue to be in the Boy Scouts. It’s stupid for a man to sue to be a Hooter’s girl. It’s stupid for white people to complain about BET awards and for blacks to demand to have 17% of the players on a Hockey team to be black.

    Excellence is color blind. Truth is color blind. I say we judge people by their actions first and foremost, and when we find proof of unfair discrimination (as in someone’s intent to judge someone else), we should prosecute it with all haste and fury.

    But to enforce diversity through statistical means is to enforce mediocrity.

    Maybe it’s just a war of words being fought here in the comments. But to me, if someone says “I don’t see color,” the clear meaning is — “for the context in which we are speaking, one’s racial background is not playing a deciding or contributing role”. For me, this goes for work, friends, public office, church, whatever.

    Wait, no not just “whatever”. Everything.

  96. MammaLoves says:

    I love this conversation.

    Raising a bi-racial child (and being raised with a sister of a different racial background) probably makes me more aware of monochromatic rooms. Frankly, they’re far too boring, but insincere relationships are horrible too.

    I think that seeing a difference is okay as long as we don’t place more value one over another.

  97. Rachel says:

    I think you sum up the white confusion.

  98. Robin says:

    “It’s stupid for a girl to sue to be in the Boy Scouts. It’s stupid for a man to sue to be a Hooter’s girl. It’s stupid for white people to complain about BET awards and for blacks to demand to have 17% of the players on a Hockey team to be black.”

    Really, Whall? Where did you hear that blacks like myself are demanding 17% of the players on Hockey teams be Black? I have heard of a lot of things, but that isn’t one of them…..

  99. Mocha says:

    Whall, you’re so busy being “offended” by the conservative comment that you can’t get past it to see what the REAL comment was about. While I wouldn’t want to start name throwing I will say that it is such a lazy way of thinking.

    “Well, if *I* can be offended FIRST or MORE then I won’t have to actually respond to the criticism.”

    I didn’t ask for mediocrity. What the hell is THAT shit about? Why is it then because I simply questioned the fact that they have some shortsightedness and privilege afforded to them (and as a leader? if you are calling yourself one? you don’t have the LUXURY of unconscious thinking) that you are turning this around on me?

    And bringing up hockey?

    Yeah, you have it cushy. But not in the way you originally thought you did.

  100. whall says:

    @Robin – I hadn’t heard that anywhere. I just thought it was an apropos example of something stupid. Same as if whites were to demand to limit the NBA to having a maximum of 17% blacks on any team. It’s stupid. People either are or are not attracted to a thing (sport in this case) and athletes either are or are not good at that sport.

    @Mocha, I was exaggerating by saying “I stopped reading what she had to say”. I read the whole thing, several times.

    And I don’t know where you got that I was offended. In any way. I wasn’t offended at all. So I’m not in any offense missile buildup with you, at least not purposefully.

    I also did say you asked for mediocrity. Are you even reading what I’m typing? Could I state here that the sky is blue and you’re next going to say that I accused you of painting it that way?

    I have a problem with forced equality. A BIG problem. To me, forced equality is ensuring an equal outcome. I’m completely against that. I’m in favor of an equal opportunity. I’m in favor of having things equitable, not equal. I don’t want to bring down the best of us so that the worst of us don’t improve.

    I work in a group of 9 people. I never thought about race until this post made me think. We’re spread out coast to coast. Lessee… statistically, there should be 1-2 blacks in the group.

    Ooops. there isn’t. I’d never noticed that before. Hmm, let me count. white, white, white, white, hispanic, hispanic, white, russian, white.

    To me, forced equality is to make me fire a white person and hire a black person, regardless of their abilities. Or their interest for that matter.

    (is hockey a sensitive subject for some reason? I’m clueless here. I thought it was a great example)

    (I don’t think I’m the monster you may think I am)

    (I love parenthetical remarks (however unnecessary))

  101. whall says:

    and um, that should have said “I also did NOT say you asked for mediocrity”.

    Am I even reading what I’m typing? SHEESH.

  102. Britt's Mom says:

    Well shit I’m late to the party but this is a good post and obviously, one that strikes a chord for me. So no one may see this late reply of mine but you but that’s OK.

    First, I think the Internet is lovely in that you can make friends, etc without ever knowing the race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, blah blah blah of the person on the other computer. In theory. Of course, it assumes that all people have equal access to computers and the Internet – which is probably not the case in actual practice.

    We do become exclusionary when we try to find “good” neighborhoods to live and raise our kids in, because honestly still at this point, there is NOT equal access for those things for all people just because of discriminatory lending practices etc that people who have never experienced them (i.e. white middle class people) don’t even think of them.

    I do think affirmative action was and still is necessary and here is the analogy I used in class. Let’s say that there was some big scale somewhere and for as long as anyone remembers, the greater meter-outer was putting one scoop on my side of the scale and two scoops on yours every time. At some point we all realize that the inequitable scooping is not right, not fair, and we resolve to stop that. But the damage is already done. Your side of the scale is so overloaded compared to mine that even if we are scrupulous about one scoop me – one scoop you for ever after, you will still always always always have a more heavily loaded scale.

    To me, affirmative action is the decision to even things out by saying that, FOR A PERIOD OF TIME, we are going to add TWO scoops to my side for every ONE scoop to yours, until we achieve some balance, and THEN we can go back to a scoop for you and a scoop for me.

    It might not seem “fair” to you during that time period, but if we are decent and far seeing people, we have to see that it’s the ONLY way to achieve some balance.

    And you know we talked about this yesterday. Prejudice and discrimination will best be overcome when EVERYONE has the ability to excercise their constitutional rights equally.

    Anyway, enough on that for now. Heh

  103. Laura says:

    I am a woman. I am Hispanic. I am American. I am a mother, daughter, sister, lover, friend. That is who I am. I don’t choose to wear one certain “hat” and become offended when one of the above titles are excluded. I am many things, race included. It is hipocritical to say that I am equal to you then choose to jump on the “Hispanic History Month” bandwagon (if it even existed) and want a pity party every time I felt race sensitive.

  104. Liza says:

    Hi! I found you via MochaMomma. Thanks for the very thought provoking post — I posted my thoughts on my blog: http://lizawashere.com/2009/02/18/thinking-about-race-and-talking-about-race/

  105. Skye says:

    “I’m a white liberal, so you know when a black woman speaks up about race and exclusion that I have to stop and listen carefully. It’s in my DNA or something.”

    Oh, I wish I wish I wish that were true of all white liberals. We might be making more progress in this country.

  106. Turnbaby says:

    I think to say “I don’t see color’ automatically assumes that ‘color’ is a bad thing. I don’t think that’s what you mean.

  107. Ack. Now I’m getting hate mail.

    The hate mail focuses primarily on the same line, “How can you claim to not see color when a black person is standing right in front of you?”

    What the hell, Britt???!

    It is REALLY worth pointing out that all my comments, including the one you quoted in your post, relate to my online life only. When I’m reading posts in a feed reader or dashboard or on a blog without a profile picture or thorough about page, I don’t find out first if the author is Asian and second if I like their style.

    Online only. Of course I see color in real life. I’m not an idiot. I don’t ignore part of them, particularly when that part is important to them and therefore important to me.

    The argument I keep making is that while online, I focus on content and character and content of character first and foremost. I don’t ignore their background, but I don’t define writers by that first.

    Writers. Whose writing I am reading. Not people whose faces I am looking at.

    Please stop the hate mail.

  108. miss britt says:

    Megan-

    For some reason your comment didn’t come to my email and I’m on my phone.

    What the hell, me?? What do you mean??? Dude. I have nothing to do with that!

    That being said, I’d like to know who the hell IS responsible for it. I want none of that HERE.

    Britt

  109. Aw, I was kidding about the “wth Britt?!” I should have put a smiley face after that.

    But yeah, what the hell? ;)

  110. whall says:

    @Megan good point about the “online only” part. Perhaps the Internet revolution is what will help the few annoying stragglers get onboard with the “I choose to judge you by [X] instead of [Y]“.

    In fact, I think the whole issue boils down to moving things from [X] to [Y].

    ie, I choose to judge you by your [actions, words, content, intelligence, style, threat to my existence] instead of your [race, religion, economic situation, sexual orientation].

    10000 years ago, [X] contained things like race, tribal affiliation, superstitions, etc. It made sense because other tribes could kill you as far as you knew. All that was important was eating, safety and procreation.

    1000 years ago, [X] focused heavily on religion.

    100 years ago [X] focused heavily on race.

    10 years ago [X] focused heavily on sexual orientation

    1 year ago [X] focused heavily on politics.

    The mind boggles at what is next to move.

  111. Carrie says:

    Before my head explodes…I just want to know one thing: where are all the red headed bloggers? I know that our type is going to be extinct soon, and we really should be more represented out here in the blogosphere!

    OK – I’m only kidding!!!! KIDDING PEOPLE!!!

    This has been a fascinating read, from start to finish.

    And…I love Mr. Lady more and more each day.

  112. WHOA.

    Fuckitall, I am WAY behind on this thread and no one will ever see this comment, but I just wanted to say that I recently wrote an article for our city magazine about diversity in the workplace, and one of the women of color I interviewed said something that I believe will stick with me forever.

    She said, “I can’t stand it when people say they are color blind. When someone says they don’t care about me being African-American, it takes away a HUGE self-identifier for me.”

    Awesome post, babe.

  113. NaysWay says:

    I know I’m late to this conversation, but I have to agree with Kelly from MochaMomma. All people see color whether they admit it or not. And it may not be something apparent to them. It’s funny race is such a hot topic throughout the internet these days, especially given the fact I’d just posted a rant of my own on the subject (how it pisses me off that we still have to talk about it), but here’s an example:

    The California mayor of Los Alamitos is set to retire because, a few days prior, he’d circulated an e-mailed photo to some of his “closest friends” (black, white, other) of the White House lawn littered with watermelons. The e-mail’s subject: “No Easter egg hunt this year.” One of his “closest friends”, a black woman, took great offense to this, and it has been lit afire ever since. Initially, he found no qualm with his joke. Could not understand the offense. And probably still doesn’t… because he doesn’t see color.

    And that is probably his greatest offense.

  114. Roger says:

    It’s hard for me to even imagine any American that is really color-blind. I think it has to do with how we are raised. We are taught to lump like things together from the very start and it stays like that the rest of our lives. Sad thing is, given ethnic differences, it makes some sense to put “this kind of person” in “that kind of group” – they will have a tendency to be more like this group than that one. Problem for us is that many have been taught to throw the same emotional netting over the entire group (stereotyping, overgeneralization, etc.). I think we can all take a big step forward by recognizing what we are to one degree or another – prejudice and probably more likely to discriminate than not to discriminate. But…conversations that are open and honest are a great first step to getting everyone thinking…and that can’t be bad!

    • RebTurtle says:

      @Roger, That’s probably the best answer I’ve seen. When people say they “don’t see color” of course they don’t mean it literally. We are so afraid of offending people though that we’re afraid to say, “I see that you’re “X-type” but I’m attempting to approach you with an open mind despite various often true stereotypes about people of your “x-type.” That, and it’s really long and awkward to slip into a conversation. ;)

  115. Christy says:

    I am not a big fan of the “color blind” argument, but I don’t think people need to strive to be friends with anyone just to add a specific check mark in your friend diversity roster.

    On the other hand, and this isn’t just about race, when planning a conference that is designed to represent a group that is naturally diverse, it is a good choice to reach out to groups beyond your personal circles. Birds of a feather… we surround ourselves with people who are like us in some way. If you don’t specifically put yourself outside of that comfort zone, it’s easy to remain in an insular group. Blissdom is in its infancy. Next year, it would be nice to see more promotion to wider groups of people and an open call for speakers/topics. Diversity, of call types, brings a lot of power to conferences because it means there are lots of points of view. When that happens, unless there actually is a problem with racism, we will naturally see presenters of all colors on hand.

    For the record, I’m biracial and am acutely aware when I’m the only black person in the room (although 99% of my family is white). I’m also acutely aware when there are no white people in the room.

  116. [...] it. On the other hand, I don’t want them so desensitized to race that they succumb to the liberal idiocy of “I don’t see color.” While it is my hope we will continue to see the ever [...]

  117. via says:

    I am white and I am not shy about saying minorities need to get a clue.
    My Mother was a refugee along with many others who didn’t use guns and drugs to empower themselves after the war. They came her and a built a society with hard work and education.
    I will not feel bad nor guilty as a white person because minorities chose to beat their society down and mock the work of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.

  118. via says:

    I am white and I am not shy about saying minorities need to get a clue.
    My Mother was a refugee along with many others who didn’t use guns and drugs to empower themselves after the war. They came her and a built a society with hard work and education.
    I will not feel bad nor guilty as a white person because minorities chose to beat their society down and mock the work of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.

    We all have the power to change..excuses and blame helps no one!!!

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