Category Archives: Website Tips and Recommendations

How Bloggers Can Help Each Other

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A few years ago I created a website, Huria Search, to showcase and highlight the websites of Black content providers, including magazines, newspapers, major websites, and bookstores.

In April of this year, I added a database of Black bloggers (http://huria.org/blogs/). Today there are 195 blogs in the database. I personally added about 75% of the blogs. Basically, I went to every blog roll and best blog ranking I could find, and added the blogs that were still online and active.

I’ve read content from all of the blogs. Several blogs are well designed, have great content, enjoy a large audience, and are doing well financially. However, all the blogs can benefit from more readers and revenue.

I feel we should, and can, do more to support each other.

I have both a personal and collective interest in seeing this happen; I have maintained this blog for over a decade, and understand the challenges bloggers, especially those just starting out, face attracting readers. From a collective perspective, I know many good writers who no longer blog, because they were unable to attract readers or effectively monetize their blogs. Without their contributions, the Web does reflect the richness of our culture and is a less interesting place. In fact, looking at the list today, I see we have already lost a few blogs since April.

Some bloggers are migrating to Facebook, but the creativity and unique design of a Blog are simply impossible on a Facebook page. Of course there are also the issues of revenue, privacy, control and even ownership to contend with.

I see no indication the difficulty in attracting readers and generating revenue on a blog will change, in our favor, unless we take action to reverse it. My list of blogs can help readers discover the blogs in the database, but again I think we can do more to help each other.
I don’t pretend to have solutions, but I think if we figure out ways to collectively leverage our blogs, we can all benefit. Before search engines we used webrings, while that may not be a great solution in 2015, it may be better than what we are doing now.

I’m appealing to you for ideas to help all of us in our effort to attract more readers to our blogs. If you have any ideas please consider emailing me at troy@aalbc.com, replying in the comments section below, or better still by sharing your thoughts on a conversation I just started on my discussion forum.

You may add additional blogs to our database by using this form.

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Troy Johnson,
Founder Huria.org

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AALBC.com’s Bestselling Books May/June 2015news-bestsellers-may2015We’ve made two significant to the best sellers list this period. First, we’ve removed our dependence on the Amazon tool, by building our own database. This allows us to more easily create and maintain our best sellers lists. This change also facilitated our second enhancement, the introduction of a children’s best sellers list.

Authors You Should Know

new-johnaJohn A. Williams

AALBC.com mourns the passing of John Alfred Williams, author of the classic, The Man Who Cried I Am, which was on our book club’s reading list back in 1998. This is how I discovered Williams’ work. Over a decade ago, Williams took an interest in AALBC.com and supported us (read: supported me) in a number of ways. That level of support from an author of his stature is exceedingly rare. I will always remember and miss him for it. Williams passed on July 3, 2015, at the age of 89, from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Also check out a terrific article Williams wrote, for Ebony Magazine, covering the Black literary scene back in 1963, “Negro in Literature Today.”

news-claudiiaClaudia Alexander, Ph.D.,

AALBC.com also mourns the loss of Claudia Alexander, who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 56 on July 11, 2015. Alexander was a scientist on the Rosetta Project, which landed a spacecraft on a comet (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) in November of 2014. She just 56 years old.

Alexander also published her own children’s science-learning books and her alter-ego, E.L. Celeste is a lady astronomer, and captain of space-ready aerocraft to the planets and beyond. By night she re-imagines the universe. She has written a number of steampunk short stories and a full length elf-punk novel.

news-bebeBebe Moore Campbell

Campbell, who passed back in 2006, was the author of three New York Times best sellers: Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, and What You Owe Me, which was also a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001. Her other works include the novel Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the winner of the NAACP Image Award for literature. Campbell’s titles frequently made AALBC.com bestsellers lists as well.

Campbell was also spokesperson for mental illness a condition which her daughter, actress Maia Campbell, battled.

new-ursulaUrsula Rucker

Ursula Rucker is one of the premiere spoken word recording artists in the music industry today. As a poet and performance artist, Ursula has enchanted critics and fans across the globe with her diverse repertoire, captivating vocals and accessible poetic verse.

Since 1994, Ursula has shared her songwriting talent and mesmerizing voice with an array of recording artists and producers including King Britt, 4 Hero, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Josh Wink and The Roots. Each was drawn to the soft spoken eloquence and undeterred honesty which have become Ursula’s signature.

news-maritaMarita L. Kinney

Kinney is a best-selling author with over 25 books published. As a published author, life coach, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur, Marita has inspired thousands of people to overcome adversity with triumph through faith and perseverance. While facing several life changing challenges herself, Marita had enough faith to conquer tribulations, coming out victorious.

She is best known for her Christian Fiction novellas and heart felt inspirational books. Loving God with her whole heart, she has vowed to live a life of transparency winning souls to Christ with the realness of her journey and the relatability of her testimony. In March of 2009 Marita published her debut book, The Unspoken Walk. Capturing the true essence of what it means to turn “lemons into lemonade”, she has taken the harsh lessons of life and developed a plan for successfully living.

Book Reviews

newbetween-the-world-and-meBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates garnered national attention a year ago when he published “A Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic Monthly magazine. Now, the progressive pundit is back with Between the World and Me an equally-incendiary assessment of the state of race relations in the United States.

The book is basically designed as an open letter from Ta-Nehisi to his 15 year-old only-child, Samori. The author fears the boy might suffer the same horrific fate as African-American youngsters like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis who were killed on a whim by white men for the “crimes” of walking home while black and listening to loud music, respectively (Spiegel & Grau, July 17, 2015, debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list).

news-stand-your-ground (1)Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas

The author opens the opus with a history lesson, tracing the source of the problem back hundreds of years to the birth of “Exceptionalism” in Anglo-Saxon England. Reserved for whites, that notion enabled Caucasians to adopt the concept of “Manifest Destiny” that led to the extermination of Native Americans (relying on the rallying cry “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”) and to the wholesale subjugation of Africans as property.

She sees today’s Stand Your Ground law as a logical extension of the supremacist philosophy that sustained slavery, Jim Crow segregation, lynching and other institutionalized forms of color-coded oppression. Apparently, part and parcel of that shameful scheme was a “natural law theo-ideology” hyper-valuing whiteness while denigrating the black body as “perpetually-guilty chattel” (Orbis Books, May 10, 2015).

newsnyviewMy View From The Summit by Nicole Thomas

My View From The Summit is succinct and readable, and will probably be read in one sitting. Thomas’s tone is conversational, and her writing is straightforward, accessible, and uncomplicated. Although Thomas’s life has had its many ups and downs—the loss of loved ones, the dissolution of her marriage—she never looks back with regret. She sees each moment, good or bad, as a life lesson that has helped her on her journey to be the person she wants to be.

What makes My View From The Summit appealing is that, although told from a modern perspective some vignettes are filled with age-old lessons: Letting go, not taking on more than we can handle, being grateful, understanding that we can’t control everything and shouldn’t even try. These essays could help the overworked superwoman who is trying to balance being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, employee, who is constantly on the go, and doing it all. Thomas reminds us of the small marvels of life that we should be thankful for, even in the midst of our daily grind. And that, “You can lose your sense of self trying to please other people” (CreateSpace, January 20, 2014).

news-it-all-beginsIt All Begins with ‘I’: The “New Rules” of Thinking and the Simple Secrets to Living a Rich, Joyous and Fulfilled Life by Stuart K. Robinson

You’ve probably heard most of his common sense advice before in one form or another. Take, Rule #6: “I Will Fire the Announcer.” By that, the author means ignoring that distracting, negative voice in your head capable of discouraging you via a defeatist attitude. He suggests that, instead, you “Trust your heart, because you feel it.”

Robinson’s other axioms range from “I Will Determine My Habits” to “I Will Believe in Myself” to “I Am Who I Think I Am, and I Get What I Expect.” In terms of more innovative ideas, he devotes an entire chapter to the difference between the “I” (good) and “Me” (bad) mentalities (Tallfellow Press, June 22, 2015).

9780803740860I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

Brad Meltzer was born in Brooklyn, which is where Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line when he joined for the Dodgers in 1947. But that’s not what inspired the best-selling author to write I Am Jackie Robinson. Rather, the father of a daughter and identical twin boys had grown tired of watching his children admire reality-TV stars and trash-talking pro athletes as if they were true heroes.

These attention-seeking celebrities were famous, yes. But were they worth emulating and looking up to? No. As Brad puts it, “I wanted my kids to see real heroes… and real people no different from themselves.” So, he decided to publish a series of books for young readers touching upon the real-life childhoods and achievements of such icons as Dr. Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks and Albert Einstein.

news-america-the-blackAmerica The Black Point of View by Tony Rose

Tony’s upbringing in Boston back in the Fifties and Sixties was way worse than merely modest, given how he and his sister were raised in a rough Roxbury ghetto they were lucky to survive.

His absentee-dad was rarely around after being caught molesting his daughter, not that the heroin addicted-pimp/Mafia hit man would have made much of a role model. Consequently, Tony’s mom was totally dependent on that bi-weekly Welfare check from the government. And up until she lost her mind in 1965, the emotionally-abusive woman was fond of routinely reminding her kids that they were “black and ugly” and that nobody wanted them (Amber Communications Group, April 28, 2015).

news-12-waysHow to Avoid the Superwoman Complex 12 Ways to Balance Mind, Body & Spirit by C. Nicole Swiner, MD

How to Avoid the Superwoman Complex bills itself as a how-to book designed to help working females at risk of spreading themselves too thin. Unfortunately, in a classic case of bait and switch, the actual advice dispensed on its pages bears little resemblance to what’s suggested by the self-help sounding title.

Instead, this opus is filled with a lot of the sort of boiler plate medical advice you might find on pamphlets in a general practitioner’s waiting room. And the author, C. Nicole Swiner, MD, just happens to be a physician with a family practice (C.Nicole Swiner, December 29, 2014).

Book Recommendations

news-ghost-summerGhost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due

“Ms. Due accomplishes the hardest thing of all with deceptive ease, creating characters we care about on their most human level.”
—Stephen King

Named one of Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror titles for the fall! Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due’s work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories-one of which has never been published before-Ghost Summer: Stories, is sure to both haunt and delight. The title novella, Ghost Summer, won a Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society (Prime Books, September 15, 2015).

garden-of-unfortunate-souls (1)The Garden of Unfortunate Souls by Eddie Mark

In 1980s Buffalo, New York, the recession has transformed the city’s proudest African American neighborhood into a ghetto. Loretta Ford, an eccentric single mother and religious fanatic, survives for years by masquerading as the owner of a dead woman’s house. Her reclusive life is interrupted when an unlikely incident brings the mayor of Buffalo to her home in the middle of the night. Their secret meeting sets off a chain of events that will leave two families altered forever.

With all the passion of a Shakespearean tragedy and a cast of characters never to be forgotten, The Garden of Unfortunate Souls vividly depicts the consequences of violence, sex, and gender conflict in African American communities (Booktrope, April 17, 2015).

newbottle-topBottle Cap Boys Dancing On Royal Street by Rita Williams-Garcia

Tap dancing on sidewalks, especially in the city’s French Quarter, is a New Orleans tradition as familiar to some as Jazz, Creole and Cajun food and Mardi Gras. For generations, Black youngsters have danced for tourists on the streets of New Orleans some because they enjoy it, but many others to earn money for their families. Instead of dancing in store bought tap shoes, young boys and girls stamp and grind bottle caps into the soles of their sneakers until the bottle caps stay firmly in place at the toe. And they don’t miss a beat! Clickity-clack, Clack……tipity-tap, tap tap……tipity-tap, tap In Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia introduces two bottle cap dancers, brothers Randy and Rudy. Through rich and upbeat rhyme, Williams-Garcia gives voice to the dancing and the youngsters who keep this unique New Orleans tradition alive. Damian Ward’s exuberant illustrations are perfect complements to Williams Garcia’s perfectly pitched poetry (Marimba Books, October 15, 2015).

new-friendship9.No Fear For Freedom: The Story Of The Friendship 9

SC raised Confederate flag in 1961 to insult nine black protesters — and took it down to honor nine slain
South Carolina put Confederate flag above capitol in 1961 after 9 students held sit-in at segregated lunch counter. A peculiar historical symmetry exists between South Carolina’s decision to raise the Confederate flag in 1961.

The Friendship 9, a group of college students and activists in Rock Hill, South Carolina, claimed a rightful place in history by challenging inequality and unfair laws. In 1961, their decision to help place into motion the Jail, No Bail strategy empowered many communities (Frown-Free Publications, March 1, 2014). Watch a video of Their Story.

news-stand-your-groundStand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray

Janice Johnson is living every mother’s nightmare. Her seventeen-year-old son was murdered and the shooter has not been arrested. Can the DA and the police be trusted to investigate and do the right thing? Should Janice take advantage of the public outcry and join her husband alongside the angry protesters who are out for revenge?

Meredith Spencer is married to the man accused of the killing and she sees her husband and the situation with far more clarity than anyone realizes. What she knows could blow the case wide open, but what will that mean for her life and that of her son? Will she have the courage to come forward in time so justice can be done? Published by Touchstone, June 30, 2015.

news-mamas-boyMama’s Boy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

When her son is in trouble, a heartbroken mother finds the courage and faith to save him, in ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s powerful family drama—a novel as timely as today’s headlines.

The breaking TV news rocks Jasper, Texas, to the core: a white police officer is fatally shot in a scuffle with three black youths—and a cellphone video captures Jamal Jones, the sixteen-year-old son of esteemed Reverend Elton Jones, escalating the tragic encounter. Now, as the national spotlight shines on a town already rife with racial tension, Jamal is a murder suspect on the run. And all of Jasper—even the Reverend’s congregation—rushes to judge the boy they thought they knew (Gallery Books, 8/30/15).

Billingsley’s, Novel Let the Church Say Amen has been adapted as a film and will debut, August 30th, on BET.

news-memoirsMemoirs of a Mad Black Educator Bobby R. Dixon

A critical reflection on the education reform movement through the personal experiences of this African-American educator. Dixon fictionalizes some of his experiences to delineate the emergence of a new educational power structure, which entails the marriage of philanthropy, federal government policy, charter school operators, new forms of teacher training and administrator training programs, the profitable testing industry, mayoral control of large school districts, among other entities. This new educational power structure not only advocates the privatization of public education, but forces it down the public’s throat. The consequence is the growing obsolescence of the public school and the public school teacher. There are massive firings and layoffs of skilled, veteran teachers and principals nationwide to make way for alternatively trained teachers and principals. Likewise there are nationwide closings of schools in minority and poor communities to make way for charter schools and special school districts (CreateSpace, September 11, 2014).

newgirls-write-now-2015Voice to Voice: The Girls Write Now 2015 Anthology

From one of the nation’s top after school programs, an acclaimed collection of poetry and prose showcasing the voices of young women and their mentors in a powerful exploration of the theme of Voice to Voice. Distinguished twice by the White House as one of the top after-school arts and cultural organizations in the nation, and recently honored by Newsweek in their article on “After school programs that make a difference,” Girls Write Now works to empower underserved teen girls in New York City by pairing them with professional writing mentors (Girls Write Now, May 19, 2015).

news-raising-black-boysRaising Black Boys to Men: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Thugless Sons by Patricia Joseph

One mother’s journey: her successes, trials, and errors, in raising her three boys, in a society that glorifies thug-life. Author, Patricia Joseph, who successfully navigated the lives of her three sons, through the ever so present negative influences in society, felt compelled to write about her experience in raising thugless sons. Patricia credits much of her success to just “good, ole-fashion child rearing.”

In her book, Patricia provides simple anecdotes and tips, to help mothers faced with the challenges of raising Black boys. Patricia cleverly sprinkles humor throughout the book, and provides laughter to the role of parenting. The book is a short, quick-read, which can be read in a few hours. At the end of each chapter, Patricia provides “Mom Tips,” which are little nuggets of information, for moms to reference long after reading the book (BookBaby, December 5, 2014).

news-still-a-pygmyStill a Pygmy: The unique memoir of one man’s fight to save his identity from extinction

The unique memoir of one man’s fight to save his identity from extinction

Still a Pygmy is a story of love, pride and prejudice that traces the journey of BaTembo Pygmy Isaac Bacirongo from the forests of Central Africa, through the brutality of dictator­ship and war, to arrival and settlement in Australia’s melting pot. Isaac’s inimi­table style and voice draw readers into the heart of this memoir, his relation­ship with his wife, who survived his mother’s attempts to kill her to help Isaac through experiences of appall­ing violence. It is full of warmth, wit and wise insights about life (Finch Publishing, July 1, 2015).

Events

 

news-bcala-program9th National Conference of African American Librarians – August 5-7, 2015 – St. Louis, MO

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association is excited to return NCAAL to its original biennial conference schedule. New to NCAAL 2015, is a Wednesday through Saturday schedule, allowing conference goers to take advantage of lower transportation rates typically available on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The new schedule also provides a wonderful opportunity for attendees to stay over and explore the city of Saint Louis once the conference concludes Saturday afternoon. Black Caucus of the American Library Association 9th Conference Program is available

Exhibitors are invited to participate in the 9th National Conference. The association continues to work to make its conferences relevant and enjoyable for the hundreds of librarians who attend.

Film Reviews

news-boundBound: Africans vs. African-Americans

Bound opens with a folk tale about two loving brothers, born in the land of warm waters, Africa. Suddenly one brother is torn from the other never to be seen again. The one brother waits at the water’s edge all his life then charges his son to do the same. This goes on for generations until several hundred years later, in the land of cold winters, America, when the daughter of one brother walks towards the daughter of the other brother and with every step they get closer until they walk past each other, one never noticing the other.

How did these descendants of two loving brothers become so isolated? The journey to the answer begins with Africans and African Americans recounting personal, hurtful experiences with each other. It immediately identifies the media as the source of the negative perceptions we have of each other. Throughout its young history, celluloid has depicted people of African descent as childlike, stupid and violent, pretty much how we have come to view each other.

news-tang-negroTango Negro, The African Roots of Tango

The word “tango” mean “sun” in Congolese. Given that derivation, it comes as no surprise that the dance thought of as South American might be traced back to Africa.

That explains the mission of Tango Negro, a labor of love marking the writing and directorial debut of Dom Pedro. What makes the project of educational value is the fact that Argentina, the country most closely associated with Tango, has generally been averse to admitting its African heritage.

Related Articles & News

news-amazon-sad“Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers…”

The Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Authors’ Representatives and Authors United said in letters and statements being sent this week to the Justice Department that “Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.”

newrobert-l-johnsonRobert L. Johnson — The “Urban Movie Channel” Interview

Troy Johnson asks, do you think it would be possible for another Black owned media conglomerate, like BET, to emerge in today’s environment?

Robert L. Johnson: It’s definitely possible, but it would be very difficult to do in this environment. It was difficult when I started BET. Today, the internet makes it possible for a lot of African-American content to flow freely to the consumers since there are no gatekeepers, and it is global in terms of its accessibility. We at RLJ Entertainment are laying the foundation to be sort of a BET in the Digital Age by creating the distribution platform of the Urban Movie Channel, by licensing content from independent producers of urban content, by helping them produce that content, and by promoting the awareness of it. We believe that as a first mover in this space, RLJ Entertainment has the potential to become a success story like BET and, obviously, I have a lot of experience in making that happen.

news-black-caucusNew Self-Publishing Literary Award to Promote Diverse Books in Libraries

The Black Caucus of the ALA (BCALA) and BiblioBoard announce the creation of an annual self-publishing award. Following the model of the current BCALA Literary Awards, the new award will honor the best self-published eBooks in fiction and poetry by an African American author in the U.S.

Authors who enter the contest will have the opportunity to opt into the SELF-e program and their own Indie State module, providing them with an invaluable resource for promotion and exposure of their work. SELF-e is a partnership between BiblioBoard and the Library Journal and is aimed at finding the best self-published books and making those books seamlessly available to library patrons.

news-discussion-banner-redOur African-American Literature Discussion Forum is Now Mobile!

Join the conversation and talk about books you’ve written, or books you’ve read. You may exchange views with authors, avid readers and those who wish to learn more about Black literature and publishing. You can share rich media content without worrying about being bombarded with ads, having your privacy invaded, or having what is presented to others (or two you) determined by efforts to maximize revenue. Also read our article “Our 10 Most Popular Discussions (and Why Discussion Forums Matter)”

Authors, this is where you need to share information about your books: Since 1998, Thumper’s Corner has been a very special and popular area of our web site. In fact, each month I discover interesting books to share with our eNewsletter readers. Check out our recent conversations 

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news-troy-signoffDear Reader,

This month as been extremely busy as I continue to rebuild AALBC.com from the ground up. This major upgrade is scheduled for completion in early 2016. It is a massive undertaking to redesign a completely new website, migrate almost 20 years of content, while keeping both sites updated (say a prayer for me).

As always if there is a feature you’d like to see on the new website me know by emailing me or posting a comment on our discussion forum.

Remember, your support is absolutely mandatory for AALBC.com to continue. A paid subscription to our eNewsletter is a great way to help and lets me know there is indeed demand for the information covered in this eNewsletter and on our website.

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Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com
Support AALBC.com, Support this eNewsletter

AALBC.com eNewsletter – July 30, 2015 – Issue #227

There is a Lack of Unity Among Black Websites

Over the last year, I’ve invested a lot of effort informing the public about the adverse impact of the corporate take over of the web and how this is hurting independent websites, particularly Black owned ones.

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Buy This Button from The House of Nubian

I have, however, not been very critical of the Black owned websites themselves.  Part of the reason for my lack of critique is that I’m very sensitive to the environment and in many ways understand when websites choose not to cooperate or work in unnecessarily competitive ways.

For example, Google, the most popular search engine, is now in a position to dictate to webmasters how to design their websites—what content can be published and how to link to other sites.   A webmaster does not have to comply with Google’s rules, but if they want their website to rank high enough to be found in Google’s search results, they have no choice.

Complying with Google’s mandates is not always easy.  The rules by which their search engine ranks websites changes constantly and no one outside of Google (few inside I suspect) completely understands how Google’s search algorithm works.  As a result, there is an entire industry of search engine optimization (SEO) experts ready to help webmasters with a wide range of tools and techniques to help sites rank high on a Google search result.  The most unscrupulous of these “professionals” will guarantee a number one ranking for a website, or even worse utilize “black hat” techniques (sophisticated ways of cheating) to obtain a higher search result ranking.  These techniques can leave a website worse off, by being penalized by Google for attempting to game their search algorithm and reducing the quality of the site as more emphasis is placed on the SEO than content.

As a consequence of SEO, webmasters now have an incentive not to link to other websites, or when they do link they are encouraged to use rel=”nofollow” which essentially tells Google’s search engine to ignore the link.  Google does not want webmasters to swap links with other websites or to be financially compensated for a link to another site without using rel=”nofollow.” Some webmasters, being overly cautious in avoiding Google’s warth, have gone a step further and have stopped linking to other sites altogether.

Before Google was invented swapping links was one way sites were discovered.  Today, when independent websites are harder to find via search, linking to other sites is even more important, but sadly it is done less frequently.  Many, Black owned, independent websites are not linking to each other in meaningful ways, and we are all harder to find as a result.

ebony-magFrustrated by having to spend more time and effort jumping through Google’s hoops, I’ve decided to more aggressively, and directly, support independent websites.  I visit these websites—not their social media platforms—and share their content, engage others on their discussion forums and comment on their articles.  I encourage everyone to take similar action, but I try to lead by example.

One of the entities I’ve been promoting is Ebony Magazine.  I subscribe to the magazine and have been enjoying Michael A. Gonzales’ Vintage Vision, column on Ebony’s website.  I’ve been promoting Ebony Magazine, as well as all of the Black owned magazines I’m aware of on Huria Search (an advertisement-free website dedicated to supporting Black owned websites).  I also promote Ebony’s website on my listing of the Top Black Websites.  I even have a collection of Ebony Magazine issues going back over 60 years.  I’m a fan and a supporter.

The last issue contained an informative article about Black Americans exiled in Cuba.  It was an interesting article and I learned quite a bit.  I shared my enthusiasm on Twitter:

Recently, I posted the following comment on an article Ebony shared from the, NJ Star-Ledger, about Amiri Baraka’s recent passing.  The comments expressed AALBC.com’s shared grief and a link to a short documentary we produced highlighting Baraka’s work.

Ebony marked the comment as spam!!

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Now I understand if Ebony does not want to link to a another site (as explained in great detail above), but they did not have to hurt AALBC.com by marking the post as spam.  They could have simply not allowed the comment to be seen.   Not only was the comment the exact opposite of spam, one could argue that Ebony, or at least their visitors, would have benefited from the link.

nothing-foundI do not support Ebony Magazine because I expect anything in return.  I learned long ago that the biggest websites are the ones least likely to reciprocate.  I do not support Ebony because I like I everything they do.

I support Ebony because what they do is increasingly rare and more important than ever to the Black community.  Their coverage of books in the last issue was good too—not the usual diet of celebrity books many magazines and websites feel obliged to focus on.  In fact, I tweeted about their book coverage as well.

My motivation is not to call out one magazine on a trivial slight, no one would have know about unless I mentioned it.  My goal is to highlight a symptom of a much bigger problem that manifests in numerable ways across the Internet landscape.  The fact of the matter is we are simply not working together, as well as we must, to survive.

Individually, none of us have a chance to compete, over the long term, against the huge corporations taking over the World Wide Web.  Embracing social media is not the answer.  Collectively, we provide FAR more support and promotion of social media platforms than we do our own and we continue to lose.

Unless we bind  together, support and uplift each other, we have no chance of retaining ownership of our voice on the web.  When we lose our voice, we see articles focusing on our scandals rather than our triumphs, we see content that is the most marketable rather than the most important.  We also lose our ability to create business and generate revenue online. We have already lost so much, but we still continue to willingly relinquish what little we have left.

I’m fighting to reverse this trend.  Will you help?

Additional Resources

 

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