Wait, I thought only tea party rallies were all white people?
Black activists at the 2013 Netroots Nation conference blasted organizers and participants for what they described as a shocking “lack of diversity” at the progressive community’s flagship get-together.
“I want to touch on the lack of diversity at Netroots Nation,” remarked one black audience member to wild applause and cheers during a rowdy Saturday afternoon discussion with a panel of prominent black female activists.
“What I’d say to that is efforts are made every year and it has grown more diverse over time,” replied Cheryl Contee, a Netroots board member who founded Jack and Jill Politics, a political hub for black activists.
“It used to be worse,” said Contee, who acted as moderator of “Ask a Sista: Black Women Muse on Politics, Policy, Pop Culture and Scholarship.”
“That’s not a defense,” Contee added. “But I’m just saying it used to be much, much worse.”
“I agree,” added Kimberly “Dr. Goddess” Ellis PhD, who is known as an expert in “new age liberation ideology.”
“Netroots Nation came to me,” Dr. Goddess said. “I had never heard of Netroots Nation as a conference or a thing” before being approached by organizers.
Lauren Brown Jarvis, a Huffington Post contributor and social media guru, said she has a similar experience at Netroots.
“People are offended by my assertion that I’m black and going to be here and be black,” Jarvis said, noting that her public pride is not about “hating white” people, but empowering black ones.
“I know I felt very lost [at the confab] and I came with seven other co-workers,” Jarvis said.
Despite the protestations of the panelists, bloggers and Twitter users roaming the conference highlighted Netroots’ lack of diversity.
“Although Netroots touts itself as being an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo, judging from the racial make-up of the NN13 attendees, lack of diversity is one status quo that didn’t seem to be challenged enough,” Sharon Kyle, a blogger for LA Progressive, wrote in a post titled, “Netroots Nation Lacks Diversity.”
“For the past two days I’ve been one of a sprinkling of minorities floating in a sea of young white people,” wrote Kyle, a member of the conference’s panel selection committee.