Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HuffPo and the Global Black are Dedicated to African American Readers

NBC has The Grio, The Washington Post has The Root, AOL has Black Voices. and now The Huffington Post is throwing it's ring into the hat with The Global Black.
The latest HuffPo section slated to launch is HuffPost GlobalBlack, which will target African-American readers by presenting content "through the lens of the black experience," according to a release blasted out Thursday morning. The site is scheduled to go live in March through a partnership with Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.
Really?  Huffpo approached Black Exploitation Television, otherwise known as coonery R us, to reach African American people.  I don't even remember the last time BET was relevant, but oh well.

I have been thinking a lot about creating these separate pages to capture the thoughts, impulses and issues of African Americans.  Can this really be understood as a positive step forward?  It certainly employs a lot of Black writers and in the case of Black Voices and The Root (minus Jimi Israel) in particular, sets forth what can often be considered cutting edge analysis. Adding Black commentary can do nothing but improve (the faux liberal) Huffpo.

The issue for me arises at the point implementation.  What does it say that all Black thought has to be separated from the news meant for Whiteness?   It sort of reminds of Black History Month, where the few heroes that we are allowed to celebrate are praised for a scant 28 days and then quickly cast aside until the following year.  Having the pages in existence, is no guarantee that it will be read or treated with the respect that it deserves.

Interspersing these articles throughout the page elevates the work and says that it belongs not in some Black section, but in a section that is of importance to all readers.  It forces readers to consider these words belong and that the Black experience is the American experience. Separating the news does nothing to acknowledge the apartheid like methods that the media has utilized to aid in the project of White supremacy.

We keep hearing that we are post racial now, and in some cases that the project to end racism against Africans has lead to reverse racism, and yet White supremacy is so entrenched, that it is still normalized even as  Blacks are constructed daily as the 'other'.  Real equality is true and lasting inclusion, not another separate but equal divide.  This is so hard for me to write, because I know how hard Black writers have to work to be heard.  I know the hate that is directed at us for daring to speak our truth, and so a part of me wants to celebrate the opportunities that will be given to these writers; however, the ghettoization of this work eliminates all pleasure.

The other thing that occurred to me when I heard that Huffpo was going to have a Black section, was the fact that they do not pay their writers; they offer instead exposure to a wider readership instead.  We know that Blacks are suffering more from the current economic downturn than Whites. We know that even before the latest economic disaster, that Blacks still earned less than Whites.  We know that Blacks have always fought for fair representation in the media and have been denied. To ask Black writers to work for exposure galls me, because once again we have a supposed liberal White institution profiting on the backs of people of colour, while wearing the mantle of the righteous and fair minded. Appearing to be just, is not the same as being just.