ProMigrant.Org: The Sanctuary Enters the Mainstream
What once was a disparate band of online acquaintances, each doing their own wonderful things, has now become a force to be reckoned with in new media. I knew that the united voices of the founders of The Sanctuary would be powerful, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that things would move as fast as they have.
Today, as The Sanctuary moves from it's cumbersome address of thesanctuary.soapblox.net, to the sweet and right sounding promigrant.org, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the recent groundbreaking developments of this increasingly important new media outlet.
The editors of The Sanctuary then came up with a mammoth 38 question document, and went about getting the candidates to answer those questions. We all blogged it, of course, but to our surprise, it got picked up by the Wall Street Journal. CNN, through Latina Lista, also asked if someone would be interested in going onto American Morning to talk about the effort. Kety's subsequent appearance on CNN, just blew my mind. It's worth embedding the video below, again:
It's a legendary event, in my opinion. For evidence of the fact that this appearance was revolutionary just see how the CNN anchor, Kiran Chetry, when referring to Kety, stumbles on the term "Christian progressive" as "Christian conservative" keeps trying to roll off her tongue.
This event wasn't just important because Kety was an excellent spokeswoman for The Sanctuary, a progressive Latina in a medium where there are so few. It was legendary because on CNN, the network that proudly houses nativists like Lou Dobbs, a disparate group of bloggers was able to push a pro-migrant story out to hundreds of thousands of people.
It was an idea hatched in our own minds, refined on our own email lists, that went on to reach the eyeballs of more than we'd ever expected. The ability to do this goes beyond the reach of even some of the most powerful and connected pro-migrant organizations in the U.S.
Right around the time that Kety was going on CNN, I was attending the annual National Council of La Raza conference in San Diego. I won't recount the weekend in too much detai. I wrote posts about the experience here, here, here, and here, and produced a video of the experience. It resulted in mainstream blogs like MyDD, Firedoglake, and Alternet linking for the first time to The Sanctuary.
As if successes like these weren't enough, a whole new set of protaganists would make The Sanctuary seem as if it were everywhere. Marisa Trevino of Latina Lista, Edmundo "XP" Rocha of Para Justicia Y Libertad, Manuel Guzman of Latino Politico, and Duke of Migra Matters all attended Netroots Nation and participated in panels on immigration and the latino blogosphere. Out of the hundreds of prominent bloggers that attended Netroots Nation, Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post chose to close his article on the conference with a few paragraphs about The Sanctuary, a reference to XP, and a few quotes from Manny.
The audience claps warmly, and among those watching are Edmundo Rocha, of Houston, and Manuel Guzman, of Tucson, Ariz., Latino bloggers who recently launched The Sanctuary, a site written by a multi-ethnic group of bloggers concerned about migrant rights and immigration reform. The group sent a list of detailed, pointed questions to Obama. They're still waiting to get adequate responses, they add.
"I've been waiting to see just how much he's going to involve the Netroots in the way he thinks about policies," says Guzman, who sports an Obama shirt. He voted for Obama during the primaries but says he was "disappointed" with Obama's FISA vote.
"The Netroots are not going away. It's only going to get bigger," Guzman continues. "We're all learning to live with each other."
Jose Antonio Vargas - Washington Post (21 July 2008)
These paragraphs would be read by bloggers everywhere. They probably also directly resulted in The Sanctuary entering the hallowed space of the Daily Kos blogroll.
After accomplishments like these, achieved in such a short amount of time, it's probably not a surprise that the Obama campaign decided to answer The Sanctuary's questionnaire. A group of a dozen bloggers had gotten a presidential campaign to answer 38 of their personal questions in writing.
The McCain campaign was silent at first, but ended up providing a response through a surrogate in Kety's second appearance on CNN. Through Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, it was suggested that The Sanctuary was engaging in "political posturing": that we were "phrasing the questions" in an ideological way, and that we weren't worth the time of the McCain campaign.
You know you're doing something right when you're starting to get responses like that.
It's hard for me to imagine us doing much better than we already have, but the energy keeps building and these story lines keep developing. Either way, it's safe to say, that in a few short months, The Sanctuary has officially broken into the mainstream.