Black Folks Monetizing Black Culture

I’m writing this while sitting in peace after listening to Seinabo Sey’s latest album, I’m a Dream. It’s a very strong project you should give a listen.

It’s fitting that album put me in good mood, because a recent interview media critic Jay Rosen did with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had me shaking my head.

Dorsey has been doing something of a press tour to provide more transparency into what the company is doing about things like abuse on the platform and improving engagement.

As Dorsey talked about new product ideas the platform was considering, he mentioned innovations that have emerged from #blacktwitter several times. #Blacktwitter isn’t monetizing the strategy it’s providing Twitter. There has got to be a way to change that not only on Twitter, but on Instagram, SnapChat and other platforms.

In saluting the McBride Sisters for their Black Girl Magic line of wines, Richelieu Dennis pointed out how dope it was for black people to monetize something from our culture.

I think platforms like Blavity and LOL Network could quickly crowdsource folks who create cool video and written content and pay them for content. iOne Digital and Revolt could do this as well. I could also see Macro Ventures, Cross Culture Ventures and New Voices Fund supporting folks who refine their craft and put out longer form content or build their own platforms.

What ideas do you have for how black folks can monetize the content we generate on social media platforms?

No. 5: 7 Tuesday PM Reads

1. Bree Newsome penned good words on the moral duty of disruption when oppression is the status quo. 

2. Deray McKesson wrote a good reflection on the significance of social media in pursuing justice.

3. Tolu Ogunlesi discusses the impact social media has had on governance in Nigeria. Similar to what Deray wrote, social media mitigates the censuring of voices in Nigeria.

Let me pause here for a bit. I am frustrated to see things heating up again in Ferguson. I’m still wrestling with the words Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote to his son. The racist system we live in is not a mirage. Note in Bree Newsome’s excerpt from Dr. King’s letter that he mentions the white power structure. We still have that today and I don’t want that to be the case when Anna Olivia is my age.

What Deray and Bree are doing is critical to this not being my daughter’s reality.We need folks disrupting from the outside and the inside. Being part of the power structure and holding the power structure accountable.

Regarding being part of the power structure, I would just love to see more black people running platforms like Twitter and Instagram in the US like 2go does in Nigeria. The impact of black people on platforms like Twitter and Instagram is tangible, so when an Instagram account like that of the Dream Defenders is deleted for a short period, I feel anxious. A feeling of being “allowed” exists, and that feels like a cap on the struggle we see going on in America.

The work of folks like Mellody Hobson and John Thompson is critical in getting to those and shaping decisions that impact millions.

Alright.

4. Google, Inc is now a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. I closed the post before I realized that this was huge. I look forward to hearing what Clayton Christensen has to say about what this means for disruptive innovation.

5. I’m nervous about governments and developers pumping hundreds of millions of dollars in developing Silicon Savannahs. Some are already being called potential white elephants. Two things come to mind. One. This is a long game. Silicon Valley came together over decades, the foundation of which arguably traces back nearly a century. The developments need to have a long term outlook. 100-years long. Which leads me to the second point. What crazy projects are African governments working on that don’t make sense today but could be commonplace fifty years from now? Silicon. Wi-Fi. GPS. Etc. If not at the governmental level, who’s doing this kind of work at the private sector level? That is a huge part of the foundation for a thriving future for the tech industry on the continent. 

6. This is a good piece on the danger of the big-man syndrome in the tech space and how there needs to be greater acknowledgement of the role government has played in technology. 

7. My face dropped when I saw the news or Berkshire Hathaway buying Precision Castparts for $37.2 billion. One of my uncles owns a company that makes parts for the federal government. We need to see about getting Buffett on the team!

Social Media a Key Driver of the Next Wave of African Growth

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But I won’t argue the point too hard.

Yesterday evening, I attended the DC Africa Tweet up hosted by Semhar Araia. I learned about the event through Twitter and had a blast chatting it up with folks addressing the task of contributing to African development from different angles.

Of the ~60 or so people at the event, I met three through Twitter – Laura Seay, Semhar Araia, and Teddy Ruge. The statistical analysis may not make much of that, but these are three people who have a significant impact on my thinking in regards to Africa. Since joining Twitter, my connection to people doing work on the continent has grown exponentially, and has created opportunities to do a lot of cool things. There are other potential reasons for this increased connection, I do admit. Nonetheless, I am in constant communication with folks regarding Africa and I am not the only one.

In the span of a few hours, the following happened:

1. I got a better understanding of how Africare sees itself participating in African development.

2. I offered some advice to a recent graduate looking to get into international development work.

3. I connected with individuals interested in a partnership Afara Global is part of.

4. I learned about the work of an individual in London who could offer some nice value-add to one of our projects.

5. I had an incredible conversation with a fellow Greensboro-native on the opportunity areas for growth in the African-American community.

Needless to say, I left the event refreshed and excited to push forward.

Thanks Semhar and Twitter. Let’s make this happen in other cities.