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I had said my piece, and I thought I was done. But there a couple of additional points I want to make, and then I"ll REALLY move on.

1. As a Latino, I do not feel safe in Arizona, a state that continues to profile and harrass Latinos because of the way they look. So I'm not going to go, nor am I going to put my family or my staff at risk.

2. I am not leading a boycott. I am personally not attending. I don't care if you go or don't go. I won't think better or worse about you regardless of what decision you make. But organizationally, I won't spend a dime on a state that has codified overt racism. If you disagree, that's fine! If you agree, that's fine! You get to make that call.

What WILL make me think less of you is if you outright disregard the real fears and anger that SB 1070 generates among people of color. I can concede that there are two genuine sides to this issue, that both the arguments for and against attending are valid, and that we can make our own choices on the matter and not be "wrong". Don't be a pompous ass to people of color and sympathizers on an issue that cuts so deeply and emotionally, because really, just don't.

On the other hand, don't be an asshole to those who want to attend, because there are valid reasons for doing so as well.

3. But this is the most important point I want to make: This isn't bout Netroots Nation "taking the fight to the enemy". I had a guy come up to me in Detroit and say, "Why didn't NN go to New Orleans, it's the 10th anniversary of Katrina!" Wow, I thought. That would've been awesome! What a perfect way to highlight issues of race and inequality than New Orleans during that tragic anniversary!

So I brought it up to an NN board member, and he said, "We looked at it, but there aren't enough union facilities."

Has Netroots Nation "abandoned" progressives in Louisiana? Has it insulted them? Has Netroots Nation given up a chance to discuss those issues of race and inequality?

I don't think so. So why is my lack of attendance at the conference next year seen in that light by some?

Fact is, Netroots Nation will "take the fight to the enemy" in some cases, and won't in other ones. If you live in a state without unionized facilities, forget it. You will never see a NN in your backyard. The conference has zero interest in "taking the (union) fight" to those non-unionized facilities. In fact, it cancelled its first scheduled appearance in Providence, Rhode Island, because the convention was in the middle of a protracted union fight. The conference returned only when it was resolved.

In fact, that's pretty much the reason you don't see NN conferences in the South.

And that's fine. The organization feels that the right to organize is a fundamental human right, and it won't reward facilities that deny that right. That's awesome. While I would love to see the conference supporting progressives in places like Nashville and San Antonio, they won't get that chance because of the broader policies in their state. And I respect it. And if the conference did go to such places, labor would probably skip out (alongside their significant sponsorship dollars), and I would respect that too.  

So let's not pretend that NN is about "taking the fight to the enemy". This is about rationalizing a decision that was inherently divisive. Whether or not national Latino groups were still boycotting, my position was very clear on the matter of traveling to Arizona, and it's a position shared by many, many more. The polarized and heart-felt reaction on this site is testament to that divisiveness (with both sides making passionate, valid arguments!).

And just like Netroots Nation avoids a pie fight with organized labor by refusing to go to non-union facilities, it should've avoided a pie fight by choosing a venue that united us as a movement. It's not as if there's any shortage of those.

Originally posted to kos on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:08 AM PDT.

Also republished by Phoenix Kossacks, Baja Arizona Kossacks, LatinoKos, Barriers and Bridges, and Black Kos community.

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