America's racial divide is most pronounced in housing and education--but it manifests itself in many other areas of everyday life, including, yes, the blogosphere. Amy Alexander has a must-read article in this week's Nation on the marginalization of the black blogosphere, featuring my friend and fellow Philadelphia-based activist Chris Rabb of Afro-Netizen. Chris, the only black blogger credentialed at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, has done more than nearly anyone to create a vibrant community of bloggers of color. But the race barrier remains high. As Chris puts it, "The blogosphere is like the real world in many ways....Some of the same obstacles, challenges and inequalities that exist in the real world exist in the blogosphere, too." Although I have not conducted a thorough study, it's striking to me how few black bloggers show up in the blogrolls of white bloggers and vice versa. And the left blogosphere, which should be the most diverse, seems to be as white as the Republican Party. One of my favorite bloggers, Kathy G, just returned from Netroots Nation in Austin and was surprised by the homogeneity of the event. She calls it "about the whitest left-of-center gathering I've ever attended."
I have only been part of the blogosphere for a few months--though I have had a lot to say about race. But what I have noticed is that even my most provocative posts on racial issues have generated barely any discussion. Why? I can only guess. Maybe it's the demography of my readership, though that's hard to glean from Sitemeter. Is it that my white readers find my discussion of African American politics uninteresting or unimportant? Do they, like most white Americans, subscribe to the "we have overcome" theory of race in modern America? Do Afro-Netizens prefer to spend their time reading black-oriented blogs, rather than eclectic ones like mine? Does the racial segregation of the blogosphere contribute to this? Or does everyone simply agree with me? Maybe I should write something really controversial to test the case. Or not.
My last word for now: racial inequality and injustice is still endemic in the United States. These are issues that affect all of us. Paeans to unity mean nothing if that unity is but a superficial nod to the principle of diversity. It means finding common cause to struggle for equality. And that struggle starts right here with you and me.