Tag Archives: Blackbird

Is a Black Web Browser Racist?: BET x Kevin Kelly x Blackbird

by Guest Contributor M.Dot, originally published at Model Minority

Earlier this week I mentioned to my friend S.bot that I was going to write about the fact that many people thought that the Black web browser, Blackbird, was racist.

A little background. Blackbird is a web browser, created and operated by 40A, Inc., a company founded by three African American entrepreneurs, Arnold Brown II, Frank Washington, and H. Edward Young, Jr.

On Tech Crunch, Robin Wauters describes it saying,

The browser displays a pre-set news ticker on top, pulls in news content from Google News that might be of interest to African-Americans, and features a section with video content from online TV sites like UptownLiveTV, NSNewsTV, DigitalSoulTV and ComedyBanksTV. Other than that, there’s a lot of integration with the most popular social networks, a ‘Black Search’, preset ‘Black Bookmarks’, etc. There’s also a ‘Give Back’ program that streamlines donations to a number of non-profit organizations (Blackbird intends to donate 10% of its 2009 revenue to these partners as well).

Here is the Blackbird pitch,

Because we know the 20 million African Americans online need tools to build and foster community now more than ever.

Because we know that 85% of African Americans prefer online news and information from the Black perspective.*

Because we know that you are twice as likely to be among the first to discover new trends and use advanced technology compared to the general population.*

*Source: PEW Internet and American Life Project 2004

By trade, my friend S.bot is an Information Architect, so she is far more comfortable with trafficking in data than I am. I like Data too, but more for sociological purposes, but this discussion show me that she is the rare breed that is a high level aerial thinker that understands technology, business, user experience.

While I initially was going to just focus on whether BlackBird was racist, the more I spoke to her, the more I became interested in the convergence of race, data and capitalism on the internet. She likened a Black web browser to someone deciding which library she could go to. I responded saying that there are Black libraries, and that Black libraries have more Black stuff then regular libraries, so what is the difference? Continue reading