There’s a fascinating discussion about race going on right now in the Parent wing of the great blogosphere. Over at BlogRhet, Tere asks “Am I In, Or Am I Out?” and Daddy In a Strange Land wants to know, “What’s Race Got to Do With It…?“
Race is so very complicated. And that is about the only thing I can safely say. From there, it is all largely personal experiences and questions.
Here’s some more questions–What color am I? And if I am white, can I still participate in this conversation? And if so, how can I do so in a way that is productive? Do I have anything of importance to add?
Is white the assumed default in the Blogosphere? Should we mention our race as bloggers? Since the blogosphere is anonymous, how does that affect how race is perceived in this community? What are the implications and politics of “passing” as white when race meets the anonymity of the blogosphere?
When my business partner and I started Mamanista!, I noticed immediately how white the blogosphere seemed. (I say seemed, because a lot of bloggers do not post pictures and even when you see a picture, you cannot know how someone identifies racially. Some people of purely European decent are dark and some “people of color” are very pale. Skin tone does not always signal race. But what is race? And where do people of mixed heritages fall in these discussions? … It is so hard to get anywhere in this post because there are so many side issues!)
At any rate, I was checking out another product review blog and was surprised to find the woman appeared to be black in a picture on her About page. Why was I surprised? The caricature in her banner was white. To this day, I do not know what to make of that.
A caricature is clearly not supposed to be an exact representation of the site author…and quite possibly some of us are posing as blondes when we are actually brunettes or vice versa…but for some reason this particularly surprised me. Does that say more about the site author or me?
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to have a lot of frank discussions with friends in real life and on the Internet about race. While I can’t say we always understood each other, I would like to think we moved the ball down the field just be talking with each other honestly.
I am white? What are the requirements for being a person of color? Appearance? Experiences with prejudice? Self-identification? Cultural differences? Interest in certain issues? Where you live? Where your parents lived?
Besides those who are mixed races, there seem to be others who live on the periphery of “color.” What about Arab Jews and Christians in the United States? What if they experience prejudice as Arabs? What about European Jews in Western Europe and the United States who have experienced prejudice and feelings of cultural dissonance? What if you are a Hispanic person of fully or partial European descent–is it your culture that gives you your “color?” Does it matter if you identify as Hispanic? Look Hispanic? Have experienced prejudice as a Hispanic person?
What if you can pass? Do you have a need, a desire, an obligation to not do so? What about in the blogosphere where we could all theoretically keep a lot to ourselves, including our color? In doing so, are we contributing to the impression that the blogosphere is white? And, if so, do we have any responsibility to combat that impression?
Should a white person even be discussing this? And is white a color? Or are white people colorless–with all the implied blandness and homogeneity?
How can the blogosphere as a whole better promote, recognize, and celebrate cultural diversity? What part do we all, white, black, brown, or otherwise, have to play in this?
How do we start?
Specifically as parent bloggers–is that enough of a starting point? My grandfather, who was Jewish, looked Jewish, experienced much prejudice as a Jewish person, and culturally identified as Jewish, but married an Irish Catholic woman, was a musician throughout the 30s, the 40s, and beyond. He had an opportunity to play with musicians of all races and, as a result, have many conversations about race that were really about music, conversations about music that were really about race, and conversations that were really just about music. Because music was a medium, especially in that era but also especially in the United States, that simultaneously transcended and yet breathed and lived race.
On some level, can parenting and writing about parenting do the same for us? Is race integral to parenting? Are there issues in parenting that can unite us in meaningful discussion while also illuminating issues of race?
ETA: More questions…I’m just full of
it them, aren’t I?
So, how do we keep race out there? So everyone, the PR flacks, the politicians, the other moms and dads, everyone, knows that it is on our minds, and on our lips, and in our hearts? How do we live it, love it, cry it, share it, and celebrate it…not just once or twice, but as part of who we are?
Because I do think that this is something to embrace. Yes, we are different. For many reasons…and race is one of those reasons. Sometimes it is large and sometimes it is small…but it is always there. I want to strike out prejudice…not differences.
So how do we make this bright and shiny new world of the blogosphere more beautiful with more color?