FULL DISCLOSURE: I regularly contribute commentary to MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Show. It is also no secret that I am quite partial to him as the NPR ombudsman notes in a post about sex, looks, power, and the digital space.
"There was, for example, the author of The Wise Latina Club and NPR guest host Viviana Hurtado who wrote in a newsletter blast about MSNBC's Thomas Roberts. After appearing on his show, Hurtado described Roberts as a "smart hunk."
Her comment reflects the flippancy in the freewheeling Internet culture among young men and young women in talking about appearance. The prevalence of such comments may change their impact and make any rules in the mainstream news media seem, well, quaint."
Although I am flattered by being grouped in the "young women" category, the ombudsman misses the new voices and nuances that the "freewheeling Internet culture" allows. The digital space is above all one that threatens the hegemony (yes, I said hegemony) of the so-called arbiters of taste, the gatekeepers who have historically excluded perspectives from different socio-economic, educational, geographic, generational, racial, and ethnic realities. Technology rights this wrong of exclusion, these "others" banding together, finding "voice," community, challenging each other, being informed, and participating as I discuss on NPR (where I occasionally contribute) and write about in Latinos and Social Media: So What? What's Next? Which is What I Said on NPR.
When you hear the buzz words spewed from the mouths of marketers and brands about Hispanics "over-indexing" on social media and mobile devices, they don't understand its true power and significance. Technology opens up spaces where power clusters making us not just consumers of products but decision makers.
If perspective and context are everything, the digital space allows for more, with multi-dimensional nuances creating opportunity to inform, discuss, and participate. This more accurate representation of politics, policies, and life turns up the heat on the gatekeepers. Who cares if ABC's The View doesn't have a Latina (which is a criticism I hear from people who think the show is stale)? That's why we have Latinos in Tech and Social Media (LATISM)'s weekly and predominantly female Twitter party where 11 million impressions are recorded on issues ranging from access to health care, education, civic participation, work/life balance, and immigration to name a few issues. This organization took its empowering message from the virtual space to real life, hosting the Top Blogueras leadership retreat in which I participated where the leading Latina bloggers got a crash course in business and marketing. Not only was there charla. We learned skills to not just "take a little time to enjoy the view" (the show's slogan) but change it.
I have often said that The Wise Latina Club gave me the courage to find my voice. This means that the digital space--my blog, my social media, my newsletters--not only gives me the vehicle to express my opinion grounded in solid reporting and contains the hopes, dreams, and disappointments of an emerging political class. It opens the opportunity to express the different elements of my identity including the tension between intelligence and sexuality. No longer driving a square peg into a round hole, no longer straitjacketed by the one dimension and unidirectional media that is broadcast, I can note, for example, that Thomas Roberts is a "smart hunk." In the next breathe, I talk obscure policy wonk-ese. Instead of undermining, each actually reinforces the other. This is what the NPR ombudsman doesn't grasp, not just about me, but about this brave, new world of the digital space.
Which brings us to my appearance on Thomas' show at MSNBC New York City headquarters at 30 Rock. With MSNBC contributor and LeHigh University professor Dr. James Peterson and Salon.com's editor-at-large Joan Walsh, the topic was the post government shutdown agenda with immigration and a possible new Homeland Security Secretary and the strains our drones attacks policy have created, particularly with our already complicated allies of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Click below to watch this roundtable discussion which aired on October 18, 2013.Who "gets" integrating digital and traditional media?