Black Sites That Are Owned by Whites
by Cinque B. Sengbe
The Internet is evolving so fast, everybody has a site. Every movie has
a URL and nobody does any advertising without carving out a space in
cyberspace. The Internet is so commonly used, that I predict that by
2005, 85% of the families living above the poverty level will have a
presence in cyberspace. Family web pages will be commonplace. I can
envision some sites headers now. "Coming in 2005, www.atterberry.com to
a domain near you. Check the family tree and download relative's baby
So just who is using the web? EVERYBODY. Every ethnic group in America
is utilizing the Internet. All the people who don't want to be left out
of the loop are making the adjustment. Don't believe any of the hype
saying African - Americans are not flocking to the Internet. Don't
believe one iota of it.
I have observed the African American web presence more than double in a
year. If you don't believe me just try to do a search under some of the
Black or African American thematic topics that you used to. See how much
more data comes up.
There is just one catch. Many of the sites that you think are controlled
by African Americans are not Black owned, controlled and conceived. I
have an acronym for this. I ask is it BOCC= B(lack) O(wned) C(ontrolled)
Is this a problem? Heck yes. Herein lies another disappointing thing
"happening" where we are not controlling our images and ideas. Yes, I
know that there are those who think that "it is only important that the
target audience be African American." Some say it is not relevant that
popular African American sites be BOCC's. I just want to name some
sites, which most people assume, are BOCC but have White ownership.
Black Web Sites That Are Not 100% Black Owned
Owner: Cox Interactivewww.blackvoices.com
Owner: Tribune Media
Owner: Asian Avenue
Owner: AOL (20%)
Owner: Microsoft/USA Network (50%)
Black Voices (www.blackvoices.com) is owned by the Tribune Media
Corporation. Not Barry Cooper! Blackfamilies.com (www.blackfamilies.com)
is owned by Cox Interactive Media. Not John Pembroke! Cybersoul
(www.cybersoul.com) is owned by HBO.
I have just one question to those who think that it is not important who
owns the Black Image in cyberspace. "If it were not important to control
the Black images in cyberspace,
White firms would not want to!"
I am not saying that Blackvoices, Blackfamilies and Cybersoul are bad
sites. They provide great information. I am saying that this trend is
detrimental to the potential African Americans on the Internet,
especially from an economic vantagepoint. I remember when Afronet gave
space to a White columnist. There were so many people who told me what
an ill-conceived move they felt this was. I agreed then, but I ask,
"Where are your voices now!!"
These sites are well financed and whether they make money or not, having
that cushion allows the worker bees to not worry about whether they are
making money or not.
But how do the sites make money? ADVERTISING!!
Procter and Gamble advertises on Black Voices, but do you think CEO
Barry Cooper gets any of that money? Is he or his staff rewarded with a
bonus? NO!! Does he have any control over the way the money is spent on
the site? NO! The money goes straight into the coffers of the Tribune
Advertising is the lifeblood of television, newspaper, radio and the
Internet. Yes, those sites may look great and have all the fancy bells
and whistles, but do you really think Cox Interactive, Tribune and Time
Warner love the African American way of life that much? What say do you
have in supporting BOCC? Or the question should be, "are you BUYING
The Internet may be the last place the African Americans can control the
destiny of their portrayal in the media. If we don’t support these sites
now, by buying books, music or other gift items THROUGH these site, they
eventually will go out of business. Next time you decide to buy
something on the Internet, take the time to find a BOCC site and then
buy the item or recommend to the site owner that he/she carry that item.
It's not as hard as you might think. Anything you can buy at Yahoo!, you
can buy on any BOCC site.
My hypothesis is that in five years, Whites will either own or become
the significant contributors to the majority of the most popular "Black"
websites. These people realize that to be able to control access to data
and what data people receive is critical to controlling them. Since the
Internet is nothing more than a whole bunch of computers networked
together, it has allowed Black folk to meet and express ideas without
interference from Whites as you have with television, radio, and other
During the days of chattel slavery it was a no-no for Blacks to meet up
and discuss ideas. Even in Africa, colonial European efforts combined to
prevent African people from communicating without their presence.
Although many African countries have their independence now, the
colonizing groups still exert a lot of influence over their radio and
television programming. Nowadays, Black people can legally congregate in
most places on the globe. It is still discouraged like it is in my
hometown of New York City, but it's just more subtle.
I remember some years ago I was home from college for winter break and I
was accosted by police for simply walking with too many other African
American males at night. We were on the sidewalk and they were riding in
the street. They blared their sirens and rode their vehicles on the
sidewalk blocking our path. They got out of the car with hands on their
guns and told us to get up against the wall. We were orderly, quiet and
had committed no crime, but we were Black, all male and there were 20 of
us. There was only two cops initially, but by the time it was all over,
there was a 1 to 1 ratio of Black males to police officers. Nobody got
arrested, although due to my outrage over being stopped, I came close.
Their mission was to give us the "subtle" message, "this is what happens
when we see too many of you people together." The sergeant who arrived
on the scene said we were stopped because we were reported being
disorderly by a 911 caller. A likely story. Twenty Black people were
together doing nothing but "shooting the breeze," but for this white
woman, it was a frightening scene. Just think about the fear that the
Internet represents when you have millions of people who come together
in website chatrooms, post to message boards, read the ideas of other
people who look like them.
It gets even scarier if some of these people aim to do more than "shoot
the breeze" but instead talk about legitimate social issues like the
murder of unarmed African emigrant Ahmadu Diallo at the hands of the New
York City cops. Eventually this sort of linkage could spill over into
"activism." There has to be a medium to dilute or control the way people
interpret national, global or local events. These types of questions
posed by the site administrators on the message boards and the site
survey questionnaires, which downplay race as a factor are examples of
the little things which a White controlled site is more likely to do.
To those who feel the need to monitor us, the Internet is no exception.
The best way to do this is to use a "Black Face/Person" as the visible
site person. Another example might be in the case of a movie, or T.V.
series that Blacks feel is worthy of boycott. The white site is not
likely to endorse a boycott and takes the route of "let's all watch the
show before we judge it prematurely, let's see how it represents "us,"
as one White owned Black series did with the short-lived television
sitcom "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfieffer," which burlesqued slavery
and virtually made a joke of the horrible life that African people
enslaved in the Western Hemisphere have experienced.
You would never see that sort of nonsense done with other human
tragedies like the Jewish Holocaust. Thank God we were smart enough to
recognize that this show could not continue to air with our economic
support. I could draw thousands of analogies of ways in which these
websites are likely to subtly use subversive methods to control black
frustration and rage, but I feel that portion of my conveyance should be
left to your own imagination. I am sure that you have experiences which
would allow you to recall or draw your own examples.
Although there is a small upside. I think the phenomenon of Black
websites controlled by whites can actually wind up being very
educational. There is a lot of information being circulated which passes
itself off as legitimate data simply because it was done by a Black
person without careful attention being paid to the actual content of
that data. More so I believe that regardless of the race of the author,
the work the individual does should be viewed on its scholastic merit.
Scholarship can not be quantified simply by race; cyber-browsers should
go further with information they receive on the web even when Blacks
control the website. If Black people realize that the data they are
receiving may be an interpretation from a White controlled perspective
(as are 95% of the other media and communication outlets) they may dig
deeper and go further with the data and discover that the data they are
receiving is erroneous. If the ambiguity of website ownership causes
cyber-browsers to do a double take at the information they receive, then
in my opinion it is a good thing. Many Black people too easily accept
information on the basis that the author is Black or has a cultural or
ethnic sounding name. I have seen information appear on BOCC sites which
was more detrimental in its propaganda than stuff that normally receives
a red flag on White media outlets.
Take for example the recently released "Encarta Africana" Encyclopedia
released by Microsoft. This double CD package has been billed as the
first comprehensive work on African culture and history throughout the
Diaspora and Africa. The brain children behind this project are Henry
Louis "Skip" Gates Jr., Chairman of Afro-American Studies and Kwame
Anthony Appiah, professor of Afro-American Studies and Philosophy. Both
of these men are Black and have a following among various groups in the
Black community. I have read interviews with them and about them which
make me worry about what they have done with the original efforts of
W.E.B. Dubois to produce this Encyclopedia. Dubois moved to Ghana in
1961 to establish the Secretariat of the Encyclopedia Africana, but he
died before it was completed. There is a lot of criticism from sources
regarding the efforts by Gates and Appiah. I do know that the
Secretariat in Ghana totally disassociated Dubois’ original project from
their effort. The teacher in me forced me to go through the lesson plans
for educators at www.encarta.msn.com/schoolhouse. In our efforts to
learn more about other white sites, we spoke to John Pembroke of Black
Families.com which is owned by Cox Interactive. He was quite evasive
about providing information about the staff, page views and amount of
money Cox invested. John's official position is Brand Manager (now
what's that)? He is not the CEO, CFO, COO or even the founder.
So you know he answers to someone else. Are all of these H.N.I.C.
executives selling us out? Even the recent BET venture is still
partially white owned. Why?
The bottom line is that you should know which sites are created by Black
efforts or White efforts. You should check it out for yourself. You
might be surprised by what you find. Just remember when you spend your
money, are you handing it over to the white man or are you buying black?
With the Internet, believe me folks,
WE HAVE A CHOICE!!
Click-Black is a Black-owned web hosting company.
They offer hosting plans starting at $9.95 a month.
Nubonyx should be another starting point if you don't want ads popping
up all over your screen. They are Black-Owned Internet Service
Providers with no ad banners? Banner ads can be very annoying since they
slow down your surfing (while new ads are downloaded). The software that
displays the ads can be unreliable and cause your computer to crash.
Unfortunately, all of the free internet access providers with no banner
ads went out of business.
Your best choice is Nubonyx, at $19.95 per month.
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