A few months ago, Antoinette Pole from Brown University interviewed me and several other black bloggers. She presents her results.
This paper explores the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere. Among the top political blogs, blogging has primarily been undertaken by white men, coined by Chris Nolan as the "Big Boys Club." This research assesses how bloggers of color use their blogs for purposes related to politics, and it investigates whether the blogosphere facilitates political participation among black bloggers.
The data for this paper are based on in-depth interviews with 20 black bloggers conducted in November 2005. Primarily exploratory, this paper examines the issues and topics discussed by bloggers of color, and whether and how bloggers are using their blogs to engage in political participation. In addition this research attempts to assess whether black bloggers face discrimination in the blogosphere. Findings from this research suggest that black bloggers do in fact use their blogs to encourage their readers to engage in various forms of political participation. Finally, the data also show that bloggers reported that they do not feel discriminated against or excluded by other bloggers.
Her focus on the politics of blogging and the blogging of politics tests three hypotheses:
Black bloggers will blog about issues related specifically to race. Black bloggers will use their blogs to engage in and to encourage their readers to engage in various forms of political participation that occur both online and offline. Black bloggers will report that they face discrimination by other bloggers.
The answer to 1 is yes, but how much? Indeed how much is too much or not enough. It's enough that we do, I suppose, but that doesn't necessarily mean that appropriate attention is paid. I think anyone who blogged primarily about race relations would go bonkers after three years if they weren't already bonkers. I say this from personal experience.
The answer to number two isn't a surprising yes, but one that after a moment's consideration, you'd expect. But I understand that this is the kind of baseline writing that must be done in order to build up a body of academic work.
The third answer is no. Black bloggers are, by and large, masters of their own domain. How black online writers got hounded out of public internet spaces was a function of the fact that they were squatters like everyone else. But when you control your discussion space, you can squelch the noise.
Dr. Pole presented her paper in India in December. You can read the whole thing: HERE. Of course you should. She makes a lot of good observations that are definitely worth considering.