The Case for Black With a Capital B



A Conversation with James Rucker, Co-Founder of Color of Change

By Talia Whyte

James Rucker was one of the many progressive activists, technologists and journalists who descended upon Providence June 7-10 for Netroots Nation. For many attendees, this was possibly the most important year for political online activism, as the presidential election heats up between President Obama and Republican candidate Gov. Mitt Romney.

Netroots was one of those conferences where the exhibit hall was silent because everyone was talking to each other on their mobiles or computers. Every once in a while you heard the tapping of someone’s fingers on keyboards! Everyone present was serious about their politics and their technology, including Gov. Howard Dean, who is featured in this video sending his very first tweet.

People of color also had a strong presence at Netroots. The NAACP sponsored a “black caucus” hosted by comedian Elon James White and his web show co-host L. Joy Williams, where African American content producers could discuss how to be more effective with addressing problems within their community through the use of technology. There had been a problem in previous years in attracting netizens of color to Netroots, but the larger numbers this year may show how online activism has become so vital.

“The black blogosphere is the only truly independent black press,” said new media activist Dr. Kimberly Ellis, or Dr. Goddess . “If you are a blogger, you are the independent voice. It’s you.”

Following the conference, there was a call to action to set up an ongoing group that will help facilitate the conversation of tech and politics in the next few weeks.

“We need to support digital people,” said Jack & Jill Politics co-founder Cheryl Contee. “If 20 percent of blacks are on Twitter, then we have power.”