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January 16, 2004

Drylongso in Retrospect

Several months ago I participated in a forum discussing gender and racial issues in cyberspace. It was sponsored by Lisa Jeter of Drylongso. Although it's a bit tricky to navigate, there are some absolute pearls of wisdom there about the black presence on the internet, what it means, how it works, and what it might be.

I'll just pluck out a few of my own quotes that I think have stood the test of time:

So I think the reality of cyberspace is that black folks feel as though the kinds of relationships they have in real life will be the same kind that they have online and are sometimes surprised and/or ill equipped to deal with the real individuality of people they do meet. People seeking affirmation of their personal lives and relationships are just as often as not given a cold reception or condescended to for opening up their feelings online. It’s very easy for people to turn you off and decide not to care. I think it is a mistake for black folks to assume that all black oriented content online is expressly for them and people like them. They must recognize that the monolith is shattered. This ability of cyberspace to create connections ends up introducing people to each other with widely differing perspectives on what it means to be black, the negative experience of a failure to create community only reinforces the stereotype of black disunity. Considering how important the idea of unity has been, it is not surprising that black folks may tend to be more disappointed with online experiences than others.

And this on combativeness online - can women get away with it?

Corny as it may sound, this is the entire subtext of male-oriented science fiction and comic book genres. How socially acceptable and empowered male misfits may appear is open to debate, but it certainly has its expression. Ruthless men jump right into the zone of devil's advocate, hardass gym teacher, loudmouth drill instructor, ubergeek, class clown / master of insults. These anti-heros never really become admired, but their ruthlessness is part of the process and in that way they find a fit. Yes they gain power and influence, but I think you have to be very thorough in your deconstruction of the white male power axis and recognize the personal costs. I honestly believe that those who succeed along that axis of outcast acceptance via power do not expect to be respected out of admiration. So the question in my view tends to be whether or not women are willing to use fear and intimidation.

Clearly it works for Dr. Laura.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a lot of very fine writing and thinking over at Drylongso. If you are drawn to matters of identity and culture, you should bookmark it and tell a friend.

Posted by mbowen at January 16, 2004 06:25 PM

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hmmm, i think that in coming online and finding that this great black monolithic culture did not exist was refreshing for me. as i think it is for most of the people i come into contact with, though we all probably knew that before we entered cyberspace.

i'd be bored if everyone were the same. and yet, with all these differences, i can truly say that i have found community online.

Posted by: lynne at January 17, 2004 11:46 PM