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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Where do black web sites fit in a post-racial America?

By Brandon Whitney

Source: The Daily Voice

When visiting African American blogs online, I occasionally run across comments made by irate people who find the existence of sites that focus on black culture to be racist. There is a certain portion of the population that objects to any acknowledgment of African American culture. Their argument is that if we are to truly be one country, then race should never be a factor in any fashion. The existence of African American groups and, even separate acknowledgment of culture, are seen as reverse racism.

I think I grasp their arguments but find them lacking because what they are arguing for isn't a melding of two cultures that have evolved in the United States, but rather the complete elimination of African American culture and our assimilation into the mainstream.

Are black organizations racist?

There are several aspects to look at in the "Blacks are Racist" arguments. The first of which is race. Someone who is black is generally considered to be a person of African descent. There are about 700 million Africans who live on the continent. There are tens of millions of people of African descent in the New World. In Africa, there are many different cultures; this is true in the New World as well.

I state all this to make this point. Within the racial category of black, there are numerous different cultures, similar to how white encompasses many different cultures, even in the United States. Within the white population of America, southerners and northerners have different cultures. People of Irish, Polish, and Italian descent still cling to some aspects of their ancestral cultures. This basically means that when people attack the existence of African American organizations as inherently racist, they are simply viewing African Americans as members of a race and failing to see the culture that exists separately from their racial category. If a young white man or woman grows up in an African American environment and they "act black," they are not changing their racial category. They are assimilating into a preexisting culture.

Jewish societies exist in the United States, as do Italian-American groups, and Irish Americans as well. They are not accused of being racist or jingoistic, and neither should African American organizations. They are simply cultural organizations that either cater to certain aspects of the culture or address problems that disproportionally affect their constituency. Once we separate race -- a physical manifestation -- from culture, and mental manifestation, we can see why their existence is not inherently racist, and in some cases are necessary.

If one attacks the existence of African American organizations and groups, then one should just as aggressively attack Italian American, Irish American, and many other similar groups. This rarely happens because such groups cause little harm and simply add to the American cultural experience. African American groups are no different, save for the fact that much of African American culture developed as the result of harsh and bitter circumstances in the New World.

Are black media and web sites racist?

Is it still important to have African American news agencies? Are they necessary considering that a healthy number of African Americans work on network news? The answer is yes. In the modern age, when a relative goes missing, an African American does not call CBS or CNN; they email someone's blog. They do this because their missing relative is not usually considered newsworthy to the cable networks and network news broadcasts.

The African American media is not the news in Black face, or an attempt to pretend that Blacks have not made progress in the mainstream press. It reports news that would not otherwise be available, accept for the existence of the black media.

The television news is a money making businesses. Executives put what they think will garner ratings in order to get more commercial dollars. So when a young African American boy disappears, his story is not likely to get on the network news. It is not profitable. I even hesitate to call this racist because a white male or an unattractive white female is not likely to make the news either. The failure of the mainstream news to help find missing young African American people is just one of the ways in which it fails to share information with people who need it.

Rather than beg the media to change the way in which they cover news, the African American community has leaned on other sources to get important information out. When a historically African American university has financial trouble, black media spreads the word and helps mobilize people to save the school. When a child is missing, African American blogs and news agencies spread the word so that they can be found. These are more than just for-profit businesses; these are tools to improve the everyday living of people within, and without, the African American community. More HERE

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