EXCLUSIVE: 'White People Mourning Romney' Creator Jenny Feinberg Talks GOP Racism, Women In Politics, And How To Make Your Blog Go Viral [INTERVIEW]
"That's why I started the blog, ultimately. I think it's important for me to have this platform as a white person. You should never be accused of using a 'race card' if you want to talk about race. But since that's still the
As a citizen of the internet, you're probably familiar with "White People Mourning Romney," the hilarious Tumblr cataloguing the finest, lulziest moments of post-election, post-Romney sadness from America's most redundant demographic. Since its creation, White People Mourning Romney has accrued almost seven million pageviews, and even attracted the attention of serious tastemakers like Andrew Sullivan, Ryan Murphy, and Mike Drucker.
Though 'White People Mourning Romney' has enjoyed extensive media coverage from digital heavyweights from both sides of the aisle like The Drudge Report, The Daily Kos, Thought Catalogue, and Jezebel, nothing was known about the anonymous creative force behind the Tumblr. Who was the person behind the most powerful meme in the wake of the 2012 Presidential Election, and did she have a political agenda beyond creating hilarious viral material?
In her first interview with the press, Jenny Feinberg, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native who created 'White People Mourning Romney,' gives us the exclusive on devoting her life to getting more women in politics, how to make your blog go viral, and being white in an America filled with the racism that spurred her to create her blog.
This is what she had to say.
IDigitalTimes's Anthony Smith: Let's talk a little bit about who you were before White People Mourning Romney. Are you in the political sector at all professionally? Do you have a social media background?
White People Mourning Romney's Jenny Feinberg: Yes, I work in politics. I've dedicated the majority of my (short) career to getting more women elected to political office. I've helped run recruiting efforts, training programs for candidates and local and federal campaigns.
AS: Of all the victories for women in the 2012 election season, which one resonated most with you?
JF:Great (and hard) question. All of the new women marching into Washington this week has made my heart sing. [But it's] Tammy Baldwin, hands down though. Our first gay senator is taking McCarthy's seat 60 years after he tried to eliminate suspected homosexuals from the government.
AS: What was your mission with White People Mourning Romney, and did you expect it to take off the way it did?
JF: The morning after the election I was just browsing news coverage online, and couldn't help but notice the handfuls and handfuls of white people mourning Romney's loss. It occurred to me that their central outreach strategy relied on getting out the white vote while suppressing racial minorities and I believe there's something wrong with that.
To me, that is not America.
And that is not the kind of leadership I want representing me. I started taking screenshots of the groups and posted a tumblr of this collection on my Facebook page. That was it. I emailed it to a few friends too. [I had] no idea it would go viral.
AS: How quickly did it take to go viral after creating White People Mourning Romney? When did major tastemakers like Ryan Murphy and Matt Drudge start taking notice?
JF: About 24 hours. We had 100K hits on Wednesday, and 1 million unique views by Thursday. [We were discussed] or mentioned in 20 articles by Friday. I realized how much this message was resonating with people. We really hit a nerve with regard to the limitations of and exclusivity in the Republican party. Just when I thought the hype was calming down, more news kept coming out about butthurt Republicans.
I realized, "This is actually a trend!" People can't fathom the notion of their leadership losing because Fox News has been feeding them lies. That, to me, is the most daunting and unfortunate thing to come out of this election cycle. And frankly I also think it's funny.
AS: Who is your favorite "butthurt" Republican and why?
JF: Oh Romney, hands down. He has no respect for the majority of the American population. And I have little respect for the people who buy into his condescending rhetoric.
AS: Why 'White People?' Why not 'People Mourning Romney," or even "White Men Mourning Romney?" And in your research for the Tumblr, did you ever see an American of Color mourning Romney?
JF: No, this meme required virtually no photoshopping or filtering. I was just holding a mirror up to the reality. Republican gatherings are overwhelmingly full of white people.
It's not that that is inherently wrong. I take issue with the fact that they have made little to no effort to bring more racial minorities into the party. It's not about pandering, it's about showing respect and compassion for the needs of our entire population.
AS: Do you think that Republicans suddenly supporting a path to citizenship is pandering or respect/compassion, given the timing?
JF: I think they shouldn't make any major moves yet, because it will just look contrived. I think they need to go back to the communities where they performed poorly and engage dialogue. I know that sounds so liberal of me to say, but that's how you learn what people truly expect from their elected officials.
There are plenty of non-white Americans that align with conservative values, but they're not going to support your candidate if his rhetoric is polarizing and exclusionary.
[Republicans] truly need to start from scratch. They shouldn't replicate what the Democrats have done well because the Democrats crafted that strategy based on their population.
Republicans lost this election because of a lack of education. People need to know the facts. They need to see the numbers. That's how you mobilize people and give them a voice.
AS: Do you think the Republican party has racist platforms and candidates, or that it attracts and plays to voters with racist sentiment?
JF: It's on a person-to-person basis.
Yes, I believe there are racist undertones and overtones in the way information is presented, both by the party and by the conservative media. It's uncomfortable. Changing people's assumptions will take a really long time.
But I'm so glad we're having this conversation. It's been overdue and repressed from everyday conversation
That's why I started the blog, ultimately. I think it's important for me to have this platform as a white person. You should never be accused of using a "race card" if you want to talk about race. But since that's still the perception, I'm raising these issues without a card.
AS: Would you say that there is a replicable secret to your Tumblr's success that others could use for their Tumblrs and blogs, and if so, what is it?
JF: Go on instinct. Don't try to become viral. And don't say anything until you actually have something to say.
In case you haven't seen it already, check out Jenny Feinberg's truly awesome "White People Mourning Romney" blog here! And be sure to check out our interview with David Alexander, creator of 'The Nekci Menij Show!"
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