Why Black Indie Media Needs Its Props

Black Weblog Awards
Black Weblog Awards

(The Root) — People have often shared with me how they came to know who I am.

“I was searching on iTunes for “Black podcasts” and i came across yours!”


“I was talking with a friend about reading more people of color and they pointed me to your site!” 


The way some folks talk about finding black media online you’d think there was a serious lack of content and content creators. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you don’t believe me take a look at the Black Weblog Awards — an annual group of awards given out to the best and most popular sites within the the black blog community. With tons of blogs vying for the top spots, the BWAs, which had a full-on award ceremony last year hosted by comedian and actress Kim Coles as part of the Blogging While Brown conference, today announced the 2012 winners on sites specializing in science and technology (winner: ShareefJackson.com) to LGBT (winner: Ken Like Barbie) to political and news (winner: Angryblackladychronicles.com). No matter what you might be interested in you can find award winning sites or sites of award winning caliber. 

Now some folks love to scream about how this is self-segregation. “Why does it have to be the ‘black’ weblog awards? Why do you separate yourselves?” And to these people I politely say, "Please, shut the hell up." It’s an annoying conversation to keep having across every possible platform known to man about every possible topic. Why does it have to be black music awards? Why does it have to be black history month? Why does it have to be black…

The reason is that a lot of these sites would be ignored otherwise. Not because they aren’t full of great content, but because when you speak from a marginalized perspective—whether your content is about supposedly marginalized things or not—you’re ignored by many. Many people don’t want a "black" perspective. They don’t want to be reminded that life isn’t the same for all of us and so they will continually and consistently ignore great work, artist and writers because they didn’t speak directly to them. Should amazing work and talented people be ignored because some one didn’t like when they said “growing up in the black church…”?

One of the first acknowledgements I ever received as a writer, blogger, and vlogger was from the Black Weblog Awards. So many people told me they were nervous about checking out my work because of the title "This Week in Blackness" yet there was no issues at the BWA's. Years later I work in bigger spaces but I always appreciated the acknowledgement when there weren’t any to be found anywhere else. It let me know that people out there appreciated my work. And it’s the same reason why I’m happy for the 3 awards my team and I walked away with this year. Things like this are not about self-segregation.

It’s about self-celebration.

Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.