The Circle of (internet racial discussions) Life

(digem@utne)Q: Do find that internet discussions on race follow a fairly predictable pattern or do you you typically get surprising and insightful dialogue?

I continued to be pleasantly surprised and completely grossed out for about 2 years. I would call that a grand cycle in Internet conversation life. But after abut four years it is rare that I am inspired to create anything which might outstrip my original. I am repeating myself as boohab at this point, but that is still very useful for large numbers of people who haven't heard 50 different discussions about race and all of the arguments inside those. There is a tremendous amount of extraordinary material out in the major discussion groups. It's just me, I've seen most of it.

In a minor cycle of Internet life, which is roughly 6 months, subjects will be repeated and the same pros and cons will be repeated by a different set of participants. There is always an opportunity to show new folks the ropes. But you really have to be around at least a year to grapple with the extent of dialog that goes on about the racial subjects like Ebonics, Affirmative Action, Multiculturalism, Police Brutality, Republicans & Race, Afrocentrism, Black folks in the News, Racial Uplift, The Bell Curve (still), Black Intellectuals, Blacks & Education, Black Conservatives, Black on Black Crime, Black Crime, Can Blacks Be Racist... etc. etc. I have compiled a FAQ covering a couple dozen topics lightly.

There remain a dozen or so individuals who are completely original thinkers who have done a great deal to keep conversations interesting. And of course there is always something racial in the news to spark debate. But in the end, there are a finite number of compelling discussions which have relevent facts. Most everything else is rehash. The significant problem is that nobody of any regard is willing to break down the walls of academy or journalism and wade out into the Internet real world. In the world of ideas, the Internet is very foreboding, not because of its popularly reported vapidity and vulgarity, but because there are some extraordinary thinkers out there who are quite capable and willing to destroy sloppy thinking. I believe that most mainstream magazine publishers who throw together their two-bit discussion sites actually think that the quality of Internet discussion rarely rises above the hoi polloi, but they are mistaken.

I still find a great number of writers and commentators on the subjects of race to be compelling and insightful and I would love to see them come on line. Folks like Glenn Loury, Albert Murray, Brent Staples, Ellis Cose, Patricia J. Williams, Judge Higgenbotham, Christopher Edley, Jr., Derrick Bell, Cornel West, bell hooks, Robin Kelley, Adolph Reed, Michael Dyson, Gina Dent, Hazel Carby, Richard Rodriguez. But is that ever going to happen? I believe these people have a vested interest in paid publication and they are unlikely to engage the public directly. On the other hand, perhaps this world is as alien to them as academic publishing is to me.

Somebody said, race is not rocket science, it's harder than rocket science, and we don't send people to the moon any longer.