Racing up Netroots Nation

By Rinku Sen Jul 21, 2008

Editor’s Note: Rinku Sen blogged for Racewire from Austin, TX on Friday at the Netroots Nation (formerly Yearly Kos) conference. Being here arouses my fear that with media and technology having such a huge effect on politics now, groups that have wonderful ideas and are doing the hard work of organizing people of color won’t be able to get real traction unless they have access to the modes of communication that the white folk have mastered. It is true that this is a mighty white event, but the people of color are clearly trying to make inroads. The Black, Latino, Native American and Asian bloggers all had their caucuses, and there are several relevant workshops, including one on fighting violence against American Indian women, a problem that ColorLines reported on, and one on immigration. I went to a panel of Latino bloggers moderated by Matt Ortega, where I got to meet the Mynor Rodriguez (The Red State), Edmundo Rocha ( and Marissa Trevino (Latina Lista) The discussion focused largely on how Latinos could gather the kinds of influence the Black community has been able to move as in the case of the Jena 6 campaign; how they could change the mainstream media’s representation of immigration issues, particularly to stop ICE raids and highlight bad behavior at detention centers; and how bloggers of color can be who they are but not be typecast as having no other interest or expertise. The last bit really made me think about the fact that racial justice continues to be seen as a fringe concern, not as a core piece of our progressive agenda. Ortega pointed out that if we could secure a new immigration system that is fair, we could remove that obstacle on so many other issues – these days, whenever conservatives want to block social programs that would be good for all, like universal healthcare, all they have to do is say “we don’t want to spend tax payer money on illegal immigrants,” and boom, the issue is dead.