September 18th, 2007 04:32 EST
Using the Internet to Voice the Black Female Perspective
Stories about the lives of African-American women are being ignored or put on the back burner by media leaders. From Don Imus ‘nappy headed ho’ debacle to the debate about images of scantily clad black women in media, recent news involving African-American women has not been positive. Many of the stories about women of color are not considered newsworthy or headline attention ‘grabbers’ like news stories about Caucasian women.
Media attention given to the lives of Black women has been marginal. The national news outlets reporting crimes against Black women, compared to similar crimes committed against white women, basically ignore crimes against women of color. Recent college graduate Stepha Henry’s disappearance in Miami garnered only a fraction of the media coverage of her white female counterparts. The mysterious death of teen-age New Jersey student Phylicia Moore, while on her trip in Ghana, received almost no coverage. The most recent horrific crime regarding the rape of a Dunbar Village single mother and her son in West Palm Beach, Florida made only a few news organizations. Murders and sexual assaults of White females regularly become lead stories and front-page news on national news outlets.
Why does the mainstream media choose to treat the lives of black women as being of minimum importance? One can only speculate why the death or disappearance of any person only deserves a brief blurb, while others garner national media coverage. Who in the media is making the decision to put a lesser value on black female life? Gina of What About Our Daughters.org has her own answer.
“The editorial decision makers have made a decision that Black women are so worthless that when we are murdered, kidnapped, raped, it is not newsworthy.”
To fill the gap of reporting the news of African American women, many Black women have turned to the Internet in bringing forth the issues of importance to them. Websites and blog pages for black women have tripled in the past six months. Stirred by the actions of BET and popular culture in their insistence on portraying black women as one-dimensional sexy Jezebels and sassy Sapphires, Black women have issued their own campaign against the media. They’re simply saying, ‘We are not going to be quiet any longer’.
Two of the most popular sites, www.whataboutourdaughters.org and bfinterracialmarriage.blogspot.com, have gained national attention for the outspoken views about the portrayal and treatment of black women in today’s culture.
The blog and website whataboutourdaughters.org provides commentary on issues and news stories about Black women. The blog’s owner, Gina, has been very vocal about controversial stories and leads a one woman crusade against what she feels is the dehumanization of black women in today’s popular culture. The blog made national headlines when they influenced major advertisers to pull ads from BET's controversial TV show, Hot Ghetto Mess.
Like many other black female bloggers, Gina stresses the importance of her site as a vehicle to counteract what is being put on by the media. “Our blogs are ridiculously important,” states Gina, “because you are hearing ideas and voices that NEVER would be allowed in Essence or Ebony. Black female bloggers, at least the ones I read, are unapologetic advocates.”
The blogsite bfinterracialmarriage.blogspot.com serves as a guide for black women on how to open up minds to dating and marrying outside their race. Evia, the blog’s writer, also emphasizes the uplifting of her readers’ self-esteem, by helping Black women find worth in their own beauty.
“Over time, my blog evolved into a vehicle to champion the interest of Black women and to empower and urge Black women to start promoting their own interest, irrespective of what anyone else says or thinks,” states Evia. “I saw a great need for that. We have the RIGHT to ‘be’ and live sane, healthy, fulfilling lives in ALL respects. We know our issues, concerns, need much better than anyone else possibly can.”
The women who run these and other blogs have been met with much praise and discernment from the black communities. They have been vilified and even called traitors by many of their African-American counterparts because of the outspoken views. Both have been criticized for not maintaining the front of Black unity. Evia’s blog is criticized for what many consider the idea of Black women abandoning of Black men, and Gina’s blog has been the target of backlash by a famous Black male comedian.
Still, these women press on.
These blogs and countless others were started by women who were passionate in their belief in bringing forth the importance of changing how non-Blacks view Black women, and how Black women view themselves. In a time when much of the media focuses on negativity and with popular culture depicting Black women as either the video vixen or the famous baby mama, they fill a huge void between the depictions of the black female life versus their white female counterparts.
At least in cyberspace, Black women are being given the equal recognition and attention to their beauty, accomplishments and lives they so richly deserve.
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