August 6, 2007

A Diversity Issue At YKos?

The Washington Post and Rick Moran agree on one thing: the YearlyKos convention looked monochromatic for a multicultural movement. With few exceptions, the gathering could have used Procul Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" as its theme song, according to these reports:

It's Sunday, day 4 of Yearly Kos, the major conference for progressive bloggers, and Gina Cooper, the confab's organizer-in-chief, surveys the ballroom of the massive McCormick Place Convention Center. A few hundred remaining conventioneers are having brunch, dining on eggs, bagels and sausage.

Seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates have paid their respects this weekend, and some 200 members of the credentialed press have filed their stories. A mere curiosity just two years ago, the progressive blogosphere has gone mainstream. But Cooper sees a problem.

"It's mostly white. More male than female," says the former high school math and science teacher turned activist. "It's not very diverse."

There goes the open secret of the netroots, or those who make up the community of the Internet grass-roots movement.

Rick noticed this too, although he left it out of his Pajamas Media reports:

One observation I would never have dared put in a piece for PJ Media or anywhere else I write is that for a movement and party that prides itself on inclusion, the gathering appeared very white. There were definitely more people of color than there would be at a conservative or Republican event. But as I scanned the faces of attendees to the Presidential Leadership Forum where almost all YKos was gathered, my rough estimate was 75% white; perhaps larger.

I read nothing untoward into this figure. The conference had no control over the color of those signing up (unlike the Democratic convention that mandates racial diversity in precise amounts to the decimal point). And it can hardly be called hypocritical when attendance was voluntary. I'm also sure they didn't turn anyone away because of race.

Of course not. Neither do Republicans. That's the point.

Matt Stoller pointed out that the black and Latino political movements have long had their own organizations for political activism, and that they prefer so far to stick with them. Also, blog readers tend to overwhelmingly be white, male, and middle class, even at DailyKos. These conditions make it understandable that the YKos attendance mainly repressents that readership demographic.

I don't think for a moment that the YKos organizers deliberately kept people of color from attending in large numbers. In fact, I'm sure they want more diverse attendance at their functions, as long as that attendance comes from an attraction to their core philosophies and not as a result of pandering on policies that YKos does not support. That desire would make complete sense to me.

It also makes sense for CPAC and other conservative gatherings, and I hope that the various people who note that no one got turned away from YKos on the basis of color notes the same when conservatives meet for political purposes as well. We get plenty of this color-testing at our functions, and a lot less graciousness from our critics.

UPDATE: La Shawn Barber gives her own perspective on diversity, and a history lesson from the Harlem blogger conference with Bill Clinton.

UPDATE II: Jane Hamsher at FDL objects to the Post's portrayal:

I spoke with the author, Jose Vargas, at length prior to its publication but what I had to say doesn’t seem to be the story he wanted to write and there were many other non-bloggers willing to validate his point and that’s what made it into print. From my perspective, while there may have been a socioeconomic bias that may have made it easier for white male non-bloggers to attend Yearly Kos, there is diversity in the blogosphere and more than that a tremendous willingness to embrace more.

Again, I have no trouble believing any of that, and Jane blogs at length to support these arguments. I just wish that people would also acknowledge the same about conservative conferences. No one in either group wants to exclude women or people of color.

UPDATE III: Procul Harum, not Harem. Thanks to several e-mailers/commenters who reminded me of that.


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It is so funny to hear liberals complaining about the lack of skin color-only diversity at their own gatherings. (Lord knows they complain enough about other groups’ events.) The Washington Post has a write-up about the predominance of middle-ag... [Read More]

Comments (20)

Posted by NoDonkey | August 6, 2007 10:55 AM

Most may have been white and most may have been male, but above all, they shared one distinguishable trait that set them apart as a homogeneous group - pure, raging lunacy.

These people aren't qualified to tote their own garbage cans to the curb, much less meddle with government policy.

They need to berated, attacked, defeated and above all, marginalized to their little cockroach corner of wonderland, so they won't bother normal people.

Posted by Hacklehead | August 6, 2007 11:08 AM

[hypocrisy alert]

Diversity for thee not for me.

[/hypocrisy alert]

Posted by NahnCee | August 6, 2007 11:10 AM

I wonder if these overwhelmingly white males are also in the age range where they're sitll living at home in their parents' basement because they're unemployed.

Posted by RBMN | August 6, 2007 11:11 AM

To successfully ignore all of the most basic political and economic truths of real life in the real world requires a certain level of independent wealth, or serious mental disability, or a university professorship, or all three together--all disproportionately white.

Posted by MarkW | August 6, 2007 11:53 AM

Liberals often use the alleged lack of diversity at conservative functions as an excuse to ignore conservatives groups.

Yet when one of their own fails the diversity test, the very same people who denigrate conservatives for lack of diversity, are the first to start thinking of excuses for their own lack of diversity.

Posted by MarkW | August 6, 2007 12:05 PM


College professors rarely have much in the way of wealth. Which is why they are usually so eager to apply exorbinant taxes to those who do.

Posted by Okonkolo | August 6, 2007 12:50 PM

the digital divide is real

Posted by Jim | August 6, 2007 1:06 PM

"I hope that the various people who note that no one got turned away from YKos on the basis of color notes the same when conservatives meet for political purposes as well."

Capt, were you being tongue in cheek, or were you smoking something, when you wrote that sentence?

Posted by Les Nessman | August 6, 2007 1:23 PM

Did you see the picture of the 'Harlem bloggers conference featuring America's First Black President Bill Clinton' over at La Shawn's site?
bwahahaha! That crowd needs to get out into the sunshine more.
If there was a black person there he must have been the photographer.

Posted by NoDonkey | August 6, 2007 2:46 PM

Was the convention held in a glass house?

Posted by viking01 | August 6, 2007 3:41 PM

Were any PETA wackos in attendance protesting that eggs and sausage constituted brunch?

The Old Media often portrays meetings like this one as big gatherings or major conferences whereas most likely the participants probably could have gathered in the phone booth used for the NOW convention earlier this year.

Agreement with the view that the kos crew probably are their parents' basement dwellers of the type which Rodney Dangerfield described as "If they hadn't been born boys they'd have nothing to play with."

Just an observation: The rock band referenced selected the name thus: "Procol Harum".
Sorta like Nsync they've got to have a unique trademark name. No offense to Gary Brooker et al. , of course, because even a Spice Girl knows Nsync could never hold a candle to a Salty Dog and a Whiskey Train. So to speak.

Posted by syn | August 6, 2007 4:26 PM

'while there may have been a socioeconomic bias that may have made it easier for white male non-bloggers to attend Yearly Kos'

Of course sister-of-the-sisterhood Hamsher sing it loudly, the cost of Prada shoes, weekly botox sessions, personal fitness trainers, yearly silcone boob updating, $35 at pop Chanel lipstick, $1,500 Hillary power suits can really eat into a girls poltical venture into Kos conventionalism.

I find my gender's ability to whine eternally about the socioeconomic bias of 'never having enough money' to be outright comedic. As in evil clowinsh comedy.

I'm sick and tired of being a female, any way I can return myself in order to become the better half?

Posted by PersonFromPorlock | August 6, 2007 4:55 PM

Anybody else remember Walter Cronkheit covering the (I think) 1984 Democratic Party Convention and enthusing about the diversity of the delegates? So many Blacks, so many Whites, so many men, so many women and so forth and so on... about twenty minutes further on, he casually mentions that of this highly representative slice of America, sixty percent are teachers and twenty percent are 'government workers'.

It went right over his own head.

Posted by Bennett | August 6, 2007 7:32 PM

Well I kind of think white males are the newest oppressed minority in this country so I'm happy to hear that they were well represented at this conference. It's good to know they felt brave enough to come out and face the inevitable criticism of their very existence.

Posted by Jim,MtnViewCA,USA | August 6, 2007 9:37 PM

Yeah, that would be "Procol" not "Procul".
A quick web search suggests that
a) Procul is Latin, but Procol is not
b) The name was perhaps meant to be the Latin equivalent of "far out" but was mis-translated as well as misspelled.
Ah, the 60s....

Posted by unclesmrgol | August 6, 2007 10:46 PM

Question: Wouldn't there have been at least two female blogger attendees -- say the ones who went to work for Edwards and got fired?

Posted by Steve Skubinna | August 7, 2007 9:35 AM

Jane Hamsher? Well, why couldn't she just Photoshop some of the attendees into blackface to make up the numbers?

Posted by Chester White | August 8, 2007 8:56 AM

Isn't this country about 75% white, within a few points? So what's the big deal?

And the high proportion of males makes sense. Almost every highly committed/obsessed group of people you find will be primarily male (bridge players, chefs, chess players, sci-fi enthusiasts, car freaks, sports fans, etc.) Men tend to obsess more than women on their favorite topics.

Posted by Mark Gisleson | August 8, 2007 12:45 PM

Like most attendees, I was under the impression that a majority of the people there were female. Minorities were underrepresented, but not invisible. The Minnesota delegation (that I'm aware of) broke down as follows:

5 white men
4 white women
1 Somali American male

It was also a religiously diverse group, and the Sunday morning multifaith worship session was well attended.

My concern, which was echoed in Hamsher's post, was that the group was far more affluent than the left blogging community as a whole. The young people present were not impoverished students, altho some may have still been in college.

And, fwiw, we got along quite well with the African American Masonic convention that was going on at the same time, although I will say the Masons were much better dressed.

Posted by B. English | August 8, 2007 5:20 PM

". . . the Masons were much better dressed."
Did they wear funky fez hats, and ride mini bikes?

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