Is the term "Whitosphere" a Fair Descriptor for the White Blogosphere?
by francislholland, Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 07:56:08 AM EST
"Whitosphere" describes that part of the blogosphere that is almost exclusively populated by whites.Cross-posted at http://francislholland.blogspot.com/
The term "white neighborhood" is very commonly used in America to describe a neighborhood that is predominantly or overhwhelmingly white. The prevalence of this term in our language is a reflection of the degree to which Blacks and whites have historically lived, and continue to live, in segregated neighborhoods in America, due historically to legal, structural, customary and financial restrictions placed by whites on where Blacks and other minorities could go and where we could live. http://academic.udayton.edu/RACE/04NEEDS /housing01.htmhttp://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/arcj ust.htm
If the term "white neighborhood" describes where whites live, and the "blogosphere" is the part of the Web characterized by is resident population of blogs, then it seems natural that the term "whitosphere" will be used to describe that part of the blogosphere characterized by the fact that it is predominantly or almost exclusively populated by whites.
But, the term "whitosphere" is all the more appropriate because the absence of Blacks in the whitosphere is so striking relative to the prominence of Blacks in appropriate reference populations, e.g. Democratic Party primaries and Democratic Party general election voters. MyDD has 1.5% - 1.7% Black participants while DailyKos has only 2.5%. http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/2/5/18758 /69039http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/1 2/5/7114/08229
It is particularly striking that there are so few Blacks participating at white blogs considering the importance of the Black vote for white and Black Democratic Party candidates:
The significance of the black vote for the Democratic Party cannot be overestimated. In 2000, according to the exit polls, black voters contributed 18.9 percent of Gore's total, up from 17.1 percent of Clinton's total in 1996. This means one in 5.5 Gore voters in 2000 was an African American. Black voters represented a key bloc in many of the states Gore either won or came close to winning in 2000 (Table 2). The states include most of the key battleground states for 2004: Florida, Michigan, Louisiana, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
More than half (59 percent) of Gore's voters in Louisiana in 2000 were black, as were 28 percent of his voters in Florida, 21 percent in Missouri, and 20 percent in Michigan. In Ohio, a key battleground state this year, 17 percent of Gore's voters were black, as were 40 percent of Gore's voters in North Carolina, a potential battleground state given that native son John Edwards is on the Democratic ticket.
The importance of the black vote for the Democrats in 2004 is quite clear from these numbers. The likelihood that Ralph Nader will be on the presidential ballot in several states will make black voters even more important to the Democrats, since these voters have been less likely than any other voting bloc to support third-party candidates. http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:ZSg S4Tcx2gwJ:www.jointcenter.org/election20 04/democratic-analysis.pdf+Joint+Center+ for+Political+and+Economic+Studies+roste r+of+delegates+and+alternates&hl=pt- BR&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=br
Blacks made up 20% of the delegates to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and yet only 1.5% of the participants at MyDD. http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:ZSg S4Tcx2gwJ:www.jointcenter.org/election20 04/democratic-analysis.pdf+Joint+Center+ for+Political+and+Economic+Studies+roste r+of+delegates+and+alternates&hl=pt- BR&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=br " [S]tate delegations with the largest percentage of African Americans in their make-up are Alabama, with 62.9 percent, followed by Mississippi (61.0 percent) and South Carolina (45.5 percent)." If you are not trying to influence Black voters and Party activists, you cannot be seriously or intelligently trying to influence the Democratic Party. http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:ZSg S4Tcx2gwJ:www.jointcenter.org/election20 04/democratic-analysis.pdf+Joint+Center+ for+Political+and+Economic+Studies+roste r+of+delegates+and+alternates&hl=pt- BR&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=br It will be very difficult and unwise for a Democratic nominee to be selected who does not have the overwhelming support of Blacks.
Only a skin-color based bias against the involvement of Black people could explain the lack of attention of the whitosphere to Black participation there, considering the centrality of Blacks to the goals of whitosphere participants.
According to David Botsitis,
No group has more consistently disapproved of Bush and opposed the Iraq war than African Americans; Bush's response to Katrina has only exaggerated those feelings. In a survey released late last fall, just two percent of African Americans approved of Bush's job performance. The Pew-AP survey also reported that 70 percent of voters say they are talking about politics with family and friends, and 43 percent say that they are doing so at work.
Also on the plus side, the large number of prominent black candidates and their campaigns
should serve to mobilize black voters. While not a candidate, rising Democratic star Senator Barack Obama (IL) has been featured in important campaigns and rallies at a level comparable to former President Bill Clinton. http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:G6r jeV3HdMsJ:graphics8.nytimes.com/packages /pdf/politics/2006_Turnout_Bositis.pdf+B lacks+turnout+%22general+election%22+200 6+poll&hl=pt-BR&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=br
Blacks are very interested in the issues being discussed at white blogs, perhaps moreso than whites in general, but we are being largely ignored as a potential audience for the news, commentary and calls to action that blogs provide. This inevitably has negative implications for the influence of whites' progressive political ideas. White progressives are limited in their influence by their online segregation from other groups who share their concerns.
A Pew-AP survey from 2006 indicated that only 30% of African-Americans were confident that their vote would count, "a significant disincentive to vote". http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:G6r jeV3HdMsJ:graphics8.nytimes.com/packages /pdf/politics/2006_Turnout_Bositis.pdf+B lacks+turnout+%22general+election%22+200 6+poll&hl=pt-BR&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=br
If the term "whitosphere" is "inflammatory", as one commenter at MyDD recently opined, it is only because segregration of peoply by color is itself inflammatory. Yet, refraining from speaking about the de facto segregation of the blogosphere would be a dubious way of alleviating it.
If the whitosphere is the part of the blogosphere that is overwhelmingly populated by whites, then where is the Blackosphere? Frankly, I don't know the answer to this question. Do MyDD and DailyKos, for example, provide any links to the Blackosphere or sollicit any such links? I would very much appreciate it if those reading this diary would post links to any Black blogs and websites that they regularly read.
At one time, and even today, the words "segregation" and "integration" were inflammatory in America, because the capture aspects of an historical social phenomena - apartheid - that is still hotly debated and constantly in flux. Yet the words segregation and integration often lead to intense arguments because even as we practice the acts that have the effect of perpetuating segregation, we deny having any such intent. And we also continue to debate whether segregation is good, bad or irrelevant. And that is the reason that the term "whitosphere" might be inflammatory, if it is at all. It points to a series of facts that many of us would prefer not to acknowledge and confront at all.
Nor can the "digital divide" be an explanation or excuse for the segregation of the blogosphere. 58% of Blacks and 69% of English-speaking Hispanics use the Internet, with 49% of those with incomes less than $30,000 per year also using the Internet. http://www.pewinternet.org/trends/User_D emo_1.11.07.htm In 2006, 31% of Blacks and 42% of Hispanics (compared to 42% of whites) had a broadband connection at home. http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Broa dband_trends2006.pdf So, lack of access to the Internet cannot explain the absence of Blacks in the whitosphere. "36% of all African-American adults, about 7.5 Million people, now have internet access," compared to 23% in 1998. http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Afri can_Americans_Report.pdf
So, what are the solution? The most obvious way to increase Black activists' participation in the whitosphere would be by exchanging links with the blogs that already have the attention of politically active Black people. Recently, Kos of DailyKos expressed an intention to decrease the number of links offered on his site, with the links offered being to those sites that he frequents for political news. "I'm going to link to sites I'm spending time at", he said. http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/2 /3/192341/1181 Unless Kos frequents Black sites, this policy combined with his own reading habits will exacerbate the problem of blog segregation.
There are many creative approaches that might increase the whitosphere's access to and influence with Black voters. Blacks online are 65% more likely than Whites online to have sought religious information on the Web. http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Afri can_Americans_Report.pdf Blacks receive much political information through involvement in the Black church. If the whitosphere sollicited and published exclusive articles about politics written by Black religious leaders and directed to Black audiences, then Blacks would access the whitosphere to read those articles, particularly if Black religious leaders agreed to place online links to the whitosphere in church websites,online publications and traditional newspapers that are frequented by Blacks.
Blacks are 39% more likely than online whites to have sought information about jobs on the Web. http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Afri can_Americans_Report.pdf If the highly connected and responsible whites at blogs regularly posted jobs opportunities here, that are available to Blacks and whites alike, and whitosphere blogs requested links to these opportunities at Black church-based websites, then credibility of white blogs, as well as the traffic of Black people on white blogs would increase, consequently increasing the whitosphere's political reach and even ad revenue. The figures on Black participation in Democratic politics demonstrate that this effort is not a favor to done for Blacks but rather a necessity for "progessive" whites seeking to influence the Democratic Party.
Of course, Black religious leaders would not place such links expecting nothing in return. Black religious leaders would insist on a mutual placement of links to Black organizations, so that whites could access information about blacks as well as Blacks accessing the facts and opinions offerred by whites.
And therein lies the rub. The whitosphere, I hypothesize, for reasons based on historic skin-color animus, may be determined to ignore and isolate Black online publications, even though doing so necessarily means that the whitosphere is less able to influence the direction of Blacks and, therefor, the direction of Democratic Party. This hypothesis is based only on reports that the whitosphere does not include links to the Blackosphere and does not sollicit links from the blackosphere, which may or not be true to one extent or another.
In any case, the term "whitosphere" brings attention to a fundamental fact of "progressive" efforts to influence Democratic Party politics: Particularly in terms of selecting a Democratic presidential nominee, the candidate who attracts the most Black votes will have a distinct advantage over her competitors. The whitosphere lacks the participation of Blacks and it will not be possible for the whitosphere to achieve its political goals without Black involvement.
*The graphic above and this discussion are limited to the striking lack of Black participation in the whitosphere, but should well include the lack of more proportionate participation by Latinos and women.