I personally have only been to one Netroots Nation conference - in 2011 when it came to my home town. But I have friends who have gone almost every year who have been deeply involved in the racial justice movement for most of their lives. There has ALWAYS been an issue with the lack of diversity at the conference. It's true that those responsible for planning this event have worked very hard on changing that. But many times they've been tone-deaf to the recommendations of people of color on how to go about doing that.
All of that blew up about a year ago when Netroots Nation announced that their 2015 conference would be held in Phoenix, Arizona. As you may know, this event initially started as a get-together for participants at Daily Kos (the name was originally "Yearly Kos"). But a few years ago it became an independent entity. When the announcement was made about the location of the 2015 conference, Markos Moulitsas wrote that Daily Kos would not participate.
Netroots Nation announced two days ago that Phoenix, Arizona would host its 2015 conference. I wish the conference the best, but it will unfortunately take place without Daily Kos' attendance or assistance.Many of my friends didn't attend either.
I made very clear in the wake of Arizona's passage of SB 1070 that I would not be setting foot in the state, nor spending a dime in it until the law was revoked. The law, however gutted by the courts, remains on the books, as does systemic harassment of Latinos, so my pledge still stands.
While Netroots Nation is obviously a distinct entity from the blog Daily Kos, attendance at the event is primarily driven by blog participants. Moulitsas recently commented about what that means:
Daily Kos is whiter (79%), younger (47% under 44), more male (67%), and more educated (just 21% have no college) than the typical Democratic primary voter...I'm not sure that I know what he means by saying that this is "an existentialist challenge." But I suspect that by now he knows the pitfalls that Zuky identified.
(And as an aside, I'm personally very focused on working to have Daily Kos break out of the Daily Kos demographic in the years ahead so that we better reflect the Democratic coalition. I consider it an existentialist challenge. How can we represent the party if we don't look like the party?)
Armed with “diversity” soundbites and melanin-inclusive photo-ops, they seek electoral, financial, and public relations support from people of color. Yet the consistent outcome of their institution-building agendas is to deprioritize and marginalize our voices, perspectives, experiences, concerns, cultures, and initiatives.That is the backdrop on which the altercation between the presidential candidates and #BlackLivesMatter took place.