BlackBird Browser — Because The Internet Isn’t Black Enough

I know I put this in the BlackLights yesterday, but I’m still so appalled by it that I think it deserves its own post.

In case you didn’t see it, there’s a new browser out called BlackBird, aimed at the Black community.  It’s essentially Firefox but rebranded, a new black and white theme, and some add-ons that put buttons in the bar at the top.  There’s a whole explanation of the thing here.

The website says that people should use this browser because it will help create and coalesce the online Black community.  It will also bring you news from a Black perspective, which many Black people want.  The real purpose behind this effort is to make money, but we’ll put that aside for a second.  Because the real question, to my mind, is: do Black people need a special piece of Black software in order to reach these goals?

I could rattle off the 20 different ways in which a person could mimic the tasks that BlackBird does — finding black news sites and putting them into your feed reader, finding the social networks and social bookmarking sites aimed at Black or POC in general, and finding relevant video and video news via YouTube and other, similar sites.  But I am well aware that a lot of people aren’t very Internet-savvy or don’t want to take the time to do all that.  They enjoy having things handed to them already collected and vetted.  This is why portal sites are popular.  This is why social networks are popular.  This is why AOL is still in business (somewhat).  So even though I do not need what BlackBird has to offer, I can see why others might.

Is it a good thing, though?  BlackBird is a sneaky application.  Because while there is all this talk of building online communities and bringing Black People together, the real reason this browser exists is targeted marketing.  There are ads in the browser — oh yes — and ads on the pages the browser helpfully points you to.

I also worry that the people behind it, about whom there is little information, will be more concerned with serving the advertiser’s needs than the users.  What if links start disappearing from the Share function because it points to something an advertiser doesn’t like?  Or links are promoted falsely?  The news comes from GoogleNews right now, but who is determining what news is revelant to Black people?  And will the nature of that news change with the advertisers.

Honestly, there are other, better ways to create and foster a Black community online.  As I said, portal sites are popular and can do a lot of what the BlackBird people are doing but without the browser itself.  When pondering the reason why they felt they even needed a rebranded browser in the first place, I have to admit I got a little suspicious.  This is just my gut feeling and not based on anything but a hunch and a small experience: I think BlackBird probably tracks users’ Internet usage without telling them.  Possibly even something worse.

One reason I started feeling this way is that, when I first installed BlackBird, it asked me if I wanted to make it my default browser.  I told it no, it did it, anyway.  When I reclaimed the defaulkt state for my regular Firefox, that took.  But when I shut BlackBird down, then clicked on a link in my email, BlackBird came back, having made itself my default browser yet again.

This is not good in any way.

So, what do you all think of BlackBird the Black Browser?

47 Responses

  1. I have enough slippery issues with my computer. I have two browsers already and don’t need a third. If I thought that the BlackBox people were geniunely interested in helping the community, then do it and show me what you’ve done. Let me know how some of the money is going back into the community. Let me know which black person or group you have helped this month. No? You just want me to use your Black people’s browser because it will put all of us black people into one room? That doesn’t sound right. I’m gay. Will that put me in the same room as the black christian homophobes. I like Doctor Who and loads of fantasy. Will I be surrounded by football fans and people that like BET or will I be surrounded by metaphysical, vegetarian, feminist men and women. Is there a certain level of experience required in being black? If you were raised by asians on an island with no blacks around, would you be black enough?

    Ok, I’m just ranting. But really now, there needs to be something else besides a need to herd black people in one location and then sell them stuff. The more I think about it, the more it pisses me off. I bet Viacom is behind it. :-)

  2. I thought this was a ridiculous software, the browser should merely be a conduit to finding whatever type of information you need. However this software is not offensive, it merely puzzles me why someone wouldn’t just create an internet portal for this?

  3. Absolutely insulting. I’m Cuban. If I heard of a Latin American browser i’d loose it. When I fire it up, would I hear Salsa!? WTF?!?!?

    This is right up there with Ebonics. Instead of working out the racial issues in our country in a productive way (i don’t know say… electing a black president!) we find companies like this that just try to milk it and make some cash.

    I hope these guys get shutdown.

  4. What steadycat said. Also – have you seen this?

    http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2008/12/09/racism-in-comments/

  5. maybe if you weren’t such an angry black woman, you would recognize the inherent value of a browser that has a special black colored dashboard.

    i instantly felt like i was connected to mother africa when i clicked on the link you provided.

    blackbird is going to change my world. thanks so much!

  6. I am not so sure that writing it off immediately is the way to go. I am going to give it try and see what it has to offer. When I think of the ways black voices and black news have been marginalized I am hard pressed to not give it a fair chance.

  7. This is a tough one. Your points are extremely valuable. Its just disheartening to have to Justify another Black Enterprise that symbolizes ownership and development from our perspective (by the way, I am black too :). When will black innovation avoid criticism and get the respect it so much deserves, considering a large part of the Social media and networking web properties that exist (from Facebook to Myspace) are largely “broken” by urban trendsetters. People everyday are searching for ‘black-related issues” that dominate the content in search media and news, but we are remain consumers. Can’t we compromise the obvious a bit,and big up the audacity of three young “Black men” who decided to be on the front end as opposed to the backend of this new phenomenon we are all so intimately engaged? For one second, can we simply focus on the positive as opposed to the negative? I agree Sister, as beautiful as you are, you don’t have to stay angry :) Be Black and Be Proud. Those brothers just may be using those ad dollars to donate a percentage back to the nonprofits and institutions that are providing after school care for your lil cousins and nieces. We really need more Black innovation in this global arena. Keep blogging though, your info is timely and relevant. Much props!

  8. douglaskev: ROFL – I needed a laugh this morning, thank you.

    JERMYN: You know, I totally feel you. I am certainly not against black enterprises in general nor am I against people making money in general (unless by doing so they harm me or destroy our culture, and these guys aren’t doing that). I just feel like there are far, far better ways to go about doing the thing they’re doing. Putting ads in a browser feels shady. Putting ads on a web portal, not so much.

    If someone wants to de-marginalize news relevant to Black people, videos relevant to Black people, and social networking/bookmarks relevant to Black people, that’s great. I am all for it. But I think doing it through a “Black” browser isn’t terribly affective. Or, I should say, it’s effective from a marketing standpoint, but from a user standpoint, not so much. What if I like my current browser? What if I’m on Linux? What if I want to Browse Black while on my mobile phone?

    The Internet and web technology is all about freedom and expansion. I am not free if I am tied to a browser for my Black Internet Experience. If there was a web portal that combined all of these services, that would make more sense. i could access from any browser, any OS, and web-enabled phone. Isn’t that a better way of building a community? By making sure that a wide swatch of people have access to it?

  9. harrietsdaughter, thank you for pointing out that link. (It’s a discussion of the racism in the TechCrunch thread about this browser.) As I said over there, if BlackBird had a feature that filtered out ignorant comments from clueless people, I would use it all the time. THAT is what Black people (really all POC) need.

  10. This is a joke, right? The Black community needs a BLACK browswer? Could you get anymore retarded?

    Exactly what this Country doesn’t need. Someone shoving ANOTHER agenda down everyones throats.

    blackbirdfailbrowser.com

    Idiots.

  11. on second thought it’s brilliant. I’m going to create an all white webbrowser and with all the money I make buy myself a $45m yacht.

    In all white, of course.

    LMAO……………..

  12. It is white own …like black planet
    Right?

    ………
    I’ll pass.

  13. [...] I just saw this over at ABW: This is just my gut feeling and not based on anything but a hunch and a small experience: I think [...]

  14. It’s been mentioned that there are other, better ways to “create and foster a Black community online”. Can you give specific examples?

  15. First off, I’m white. Second, when I first saw this, in bolded headlines, on blogcatalog.com…. I thought it was a joke. Seriously? Why do we need to segregate ourselves more? Mozilla needs to pull their heads out of their asses.

  16. What’s next?
    Youtube for blacks ” yo bitch change that channel”

    But honestly, if a black person can’t find what they want on google, they shouyld probably just get off the internet as with any other kind of person.

    All jokes aside.

    There is no room for racism in the open source commuity and this is a step backwards in my opinion, anyone who uses this is insecure, racist and small minded. religion and racism are the cause of 90% of the worlds problems. keep them off the internet and jokes like mine may one day dissapear.

  17. I find it amusing that major cultural icons of the past 100 years have spent their lives (at times, literally) fighting for the right for black people to be treated as equals.. then several ignoramus nowadays spend theirs trying to separate the black community from everyone else. I would LOVE to see the reaction to a white person browser being released! I’m not a fan of double standards…

  18. Can you specific examples why THIS is the way it should be done to foster a Black Community online?

    Does or did the Black Community NEED another way to somehow divide and conquer in todays society?

    Does the Black Community NEED another reason to seperate themselves from the rest of the world?

    Why not an ‘All Black Facebook’? Or ‘All Black Myspace’?

    Or, better yet- the “All Black Google”?

    I’ll tell you why. This is nothing more then an effort to dumb down Blacks and get them to spend their money on the companies who promote and advertise.

    Did you catch that?

    IT’S ABOUT MONEY. To think otherwise is simply – moronic.

    Common sense myfriends. Common Sense.

  19. I’m not black, but if I were I imagine I’d feel the same way you do.

  20. While I’m not a fan of selling product based purely based on race, I like the way this is heading. Perhaps Mozilla will hire some black developers (these 3 gentlemen?) in the future and bring more culture-based (not necessarily race) ideas into the way we use the internet. Anyway, it’s looking pretty pasty over there:

    http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/about/careers.html#feature-team

    Heh heh.

    Take a look at the way the Japanese use the internet. They do not use URIs, only “search” to get to websites. That has greatly influenced the way we are using Firefox and other browsers over the last year. If the Black community TRULY needs a completely different set of technologies to find information, then we are definitely doing something wrong!

    Also, no Mac, no Linux? They really ARE segregationists! :P

  21. If the browser is a better way for people to connect then i see no problem with it.

  22. Tiffany, I don’t see how it IS a better way, which is part of my point.

    ben, I doubt that will be the result of this. Though it would be nice if more companies hired black developers :)

    JAM Renaissance, better ways to foster a Black community online:

    Web Portals. People enjoy them, they are useful to both skilled and unskilled users of the web, they allow opportunities to advertise and to come together in one place.

    Blog networks. Make it easy for people to set up a blog and find other bloggers and interact with them. See BlogHer.

    Social Networks. They work for white people!

    But seriously, there are ways to carve out space within existing social networks as well as creating your own. In fact, there’s a way to use WordPress to create a social blogging network similar to wordpress.com. If you make it yourself, you can tweak it to any group you like.

    In fact, you can make a web portal on top of a blog-powered social network and anyone with any browser can use it!

  23. [...] Angry Black Woman, a blog that I like to visit with some frequency, also posted: “Blackbird browser — because the Internet isn’t black enough.” She criticizes the effort as one designed to make money off the African American [...]

  24. although it looks interesting, I seems like a beta and another attempt at nitch marketing.

    The idea that I could do a search on ..say… scientist, and have lists of black scientist come up would be appealing.

    …oh wait a minute,

    what type of black people? How would a browser like this work in countries with limited amounts of blacks?

    Lets see …..

  25. I saw this on Twitter and I had a few thoughts about it. It seems like a not-too-clever marketing ploy that is going to get hung up.

    1. One of their arguments is that African-American netizens are early adopters of new technology and interested in new toys. If that’s true, why isn’t the browser Mac-compatible? (It does fit with my anecdotal experience of Black netfriends.)

    2. It is true that if one is very interested in African-American perspectives on news and social issues, one has to be savvy in the use of search engines, which do not cough up those results without good Google-fu.

    3. A social networking site would be more to the point. Social networking for interest groups is the new groovy thing. I don’t see web browsers for other interest groups spriging up at the same way. Somehow making the unifying technology a browser seems more paternalistic.

    As a white person with an anti-racist ideology who is interested in reading from Black perspective, I would have downloaded and used the browser just out of curiosity, but as it’s not Mac compatible and my home machine is a Mac, I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to count on my Google-fu and networking.

  26. I was raised by two idealistic parents who never told me that people should be divided up into groups by the color of their skin, in a state where white people (my skin is olive, which gets thrown into the “white” box by people who pay attention) are a minority anyway (New Mexico). When I finally did witness racism (dividing people both directions) pushed on me, I was at once revulsed and fascinated that anyone could be so stupid, and I tend to feel that way every time I see it now.

    If I started taking melanin pills would my universe operate on different rules? Would science and logic be different? Would I sit differently in a chair? Would I see the world in different colors? Would I prefer my web pages to load a different way, or need different menus?

    The first time racism hit me hard it was when my best friend told me he had to side with someone else against me in a fight because I was white. The second time it was when my friend from Atlanta told me about his segregated high school prom. The third was when the same friend stopped talking to me because I naively commented one day that I’d love to have his skin color (I looked at his, looked at mine, preferred his, said so). The fourth was when I was told I didn’t qualify for any of the scholarships my black, native american and hispanic friends were getting.

    I had never really experienced organizations based on race before I hit college. My reaction was the same: revulsion, incredulity, disgust. If organizations of white people based on white interests are unacceptable, and I believe they are not only based on history but on logic and fairness, why is it that ANY organizations based on race are acceptable? I’m tired of being told that people are different based on their melanin levels. I’d have people marching outside my house (just before they burned it down) if I were greedy enough to invent a “white” browser.

    The inventors of a browser that comes with “black” ads and bookmarks are building a business on greed and fear. They’re telling “black” people (what the hell IS a “black” person) that they are different, that they should fear not getting their news from a “black” perspective (fear people with other skin colors), that they should use tools that connect them with other “black” internet users (ally against people with other skin colors) , that they should donate money to their “black” company (give money to people with high levels of melanin as long as they’re not Middle Eastern or Native American), that they should click on “black” ads and do business with “black” people. I’m naive but I’m not stupid; you can always make money by dividing people and these people are going to make a mint. Should these people be cheered onward for their initiative?

    If a white person came to me and told me that black people need a special piece of software because they’re black, I’d knock him down. If a white guy came up to one of my black friends and told him the same thing, he’d get knocked down. Why should a black person tolerate a black person with that message?

    I honestly have never met a person who is actually white. I have never met a person who is actually black. I have met people throughout my life who are from different countries and cultures. If someone wants to organize a browser with links based on geographical locations, the South, the Northeast, South and Central Africa, whatever, THAT I can see. Better yet, if someone could organize a browser based around organizing people whose children are not receiving health care or proper education, without mentioning skin color, THAT I could cheer. But THIS?

    THIS is fear for profit. These people should be reviled, not cheered.

  27. This is why racism will never disappear, ever.

  28. Downloading a new browser requires a witch doctor just to clean out all the old obsolete versions haunting the machine. Don’t we have enough spyware on our PCs?

    I like finding content produced by black people. However, their content doesn’t have to specifically address issues of the “black community.” I like reading content by all people who have interesting ideas and thoughts to express.

    I avoid some of the larger “black web portals”, gossip black sites, and YouTube content, because at the end of the day 99% of that stuff is offensive. And the insults are mostly directed at black women.

    It’s certainly not worthy of my time.

  29. I am absolutely disgusted that so many people view this as something so bad and so separatist.

    Some of us don’t WANT to assimilate. Some of us ENJOY being catered to. Some of us WANT to be recognized. My mother is proud of ANYTHING creative or useful that is geared toward us because there are so many things that are negative that are geared toward us that don’t get attacked.

    If you don’t want to be black, then that’s YOUR issue but don’t expect not to be marginalized when people see you in the street. And I think it wise not to criticize attempts made by companies appealing to MY culture, that aren’t trying to sell me booze or foul language.

    Hitler wanted everyone to be homogeneous. I don’t.

    Sure, Mozilla could hire some black engineers, GREAT. Maybe black engineers came up with this idea. Maybe Mozilla wants to make some money. Either way, stop coming down on something positive and useful.

    My mom marched on Washington and SHE likes the program and has told all of her friends who also like it.

    It’s useful and beneficial to those who want it. Those who don’t, DON’T HAVE TO DOWNLOAD IT. They can just continue to turn a naive blind eye to race issues that still exist, and will always exist.

    I’m paraphrasing, but to forget the past is to invite negative recurrence of all we have worked so hard to overcome.

  30. Yup. Nobody cares about Black people, or other marginalized groups, until they think they can make a buck off of ‘em. Just another example of why capitalism and social justice don’t mix.

  31. Sowande,

    I’m not sure you understand where you are. Separatist? Who around here said that? Assimilation? Who advocated that? And who said that they didn’t want to be black?

    Check the name on the header of this blog and then check yourself. No one here is for assimilation, homogeneity, and this blog has criticized PLENTY of things aimed at us that are harmful.

    I’ll say it again: check yourself.

    Also, try getting facts straight before you diatribe. Mozilla did not create this browser. Firefox is, as I understand, open source — that means anyone can develop their own browser from it if they like, which is apparently what these guys did.

    Just because something is geared towards us and isn’t evil doesn’t make it good.

    also: “My mom marched on Washington and she thinks it’s okay” WTF? It doesn’t matter if she was wet nursed by Coretta Scott King, that doesn’t make her opinion any more valid than any of ours.

    If you don’t like that we’re criticizing it, then don’t read :)

  32. What’s next? Latino browser, Asian Browser, etc? When the “white” browser hits the market, it will be instantly labled racist I would guess.

  33. My thoughts on this topic have coalesced a little bit since I made my own diatribic post yesterday. I grew a little bit more analytical in my post on the idea that browser technology is somehow “white geek culture”-centric on the openanthropology blog yesterday. In short, I’d say it’s really, really not.

    But what about advertising and marketing on the web?

    Sowande brings up the question, “Why shouldn’t there be an ‘us’ and a ‘them’, openly stated and recognized, talked about and catered to by special ads and products?” And to some extent, there already is. Firms like McDonalds and Nike recognized long ago that ads and products can be targeted to specific demographics. Politics has adopted this sophistication in the past two decades as well. Conventional advertising can be tailored down to a half of a city block, using zip+4, and as a web programmer I can attest that Internet advertising can be even tighter, watching your choices on a given website and tailoring products, pictures and prices according to your tastes. I haven’t thought of it before, but if I were coding for Amazon or REI, I’d be very tempted to have four or five different sets of models and keep track of what models the customer seemed to prefer.

    Speaking for myself, I tend to aesthetically prefer people with darker hair and skin color, perhaps because I grew up in a place where pasty white skin is just weird. A website might be able to make a pretty good guess about my race, using my choices, but it would certainly be able to pinpoint my aesthetic preferences in advertising that uses human models.

    But Sowande, at the risk of sounding like a total idiot, I don’t think that discrimination on the basis of melanin, or more broadly, race, is a good thing. You are not the first person I have heard state that you do. When your mother marched on Washington she probably noticed that there were white people in that crowd, probably not as many as there should have been, but still there, that felt strongly about the subject.

    Growing up in my sheltered home I honestly thought the racial battle was over and that the discrimination I saw around me was just an anomaly. As I began to realize that racial and sexual discrimination were still battles to be won, I also knew absolutely that my feelings on the subject were strong and came from my gut. The world would be a far better place, for instance, if poor people allied regardless of their racial origins for the things that they universally need, like education, healthcare and proper nutrition for their children. I have a friend whose every word and deed is first put through a “black” filter to see whether it fits his black image, mojo, whatever. My opinion about it is that he has his head firmly wedged in his posterior. He could be doing so many things if he wasn’t so busy being as “black” as he can be. And that takes me to the idea of “blackness”.

    I’ve unconsciously written here about two topics that have been convoluted as one and need to be separated and recognized. I could go back and correct what I’ve written, but I won’t. One topic is racial discrimination and the idea that some of us are “Black”, some of us are “White”, some of us are “Asian”, “Native American”, etc. etc. The other idea is one that’s more recent, that we can divide the world up into “Black” and “White” according not to skin color but to culture. Sowande mixes the two ideas freely in her post as if they are the same, but they’re not. In present day America, Bill Cosby, Colin Powell, Thurgood Marshall are no longer “Black”. They are “White”, right alongside of Asians, Middle Easterners and caucasians from any country.

    And when the Blackbird browser makers put on their browser ads the phrase, “PROUD TO BE BLACK Y’ALL”, they are catering not to a race but to a culture. That fact is completely consistent with their stated mission, which is a targeted advertising demographic. They are looking for people who are willing to do the work of grouping themselves into a specific advertising demographic, which yes, probably includes pasty white people who like to listen to angry rap, talk as if they’re from the Deep South and wear baggy clothes and hoodies. The reason for taking this approach is that the Internet IS inherently race-agnostic, and we web programmers have no real way of telling someone’s racial origins other than trying to guess from their name and address or getting them to volunteer the information. Blackbird is a way to get people of a certain demographic to volunteer to group themselves.

    If people are asked to group themselves according to culture, and not race, I reach the point where I’m confused and much less polarized. By this time any reader should be able to tell some things about me, namely that I’m (a) a fast typist and (b) self-employed. And at this point I’ll stop writing and try to go earn some money. No, my web pages don’t target people by skin color preferences in models. Yet.

  34. 1) Some people have responded “maybe Mozilla will finally hire black people”.

    How do we know that blacks don’t already work at Mozilla?

    2) Blackbird is a rebranded open source copy of Mozilla’s Firefox, as per typical open source use agreement, anyone/everyone can use, change and contribute to open source programs as long as the changes they make are also open source and people aren’t charged for it.

    I think this is great.

    These three entrepreneurial men saved themselves a lot of time and energy that would have been wasted on re-inventing the wheel and made an effort to address the needs of a community that they feel wasn’t being address.

    Again, I think this is great.

    That said
    Blackbird makes a claim that surprises me:

    “To add to your web surfing experience with content that you would not otherwise find”

    This leads me to the question of “how exactly does this rebranded open source program provide people with content that they would not otherwise find?”

    Am I to believe that this program performs searches that people could not search themselves?

    Am I to believe that perhaps, like Google, the folks at Blackbird have spent time building powerful search engines and web crawlers and are collecting data which is then ported/portalled to the Blackbird browser? (this would again make me question how exactly Blackbird provides content that’s not already widely available through ANY/EVERY other browser already in existence?)

    If so, great, I think thats wonderful,let someone else’s more powerful search engines and servers do the work for me, all day, while I sleep and then give the search results to me.
    If that’s what’s going on over at Blackbird, then I think that their invaluable gift to the black community is not simply a newly themed browser, but rather the collection and dissemination of the meta data.

    Or
    Am I to believe that the 3 men have rewritten the actual code itself and made Firefox better than it was, which allows it to provide the content that people couldn’t otherwise find?
    To me, if these men are geniuses and have actually re-invented or improved upon parts of an open source wheel, then as per the open source agreement they should also share this new source code so that everyone can benefit from it.
    If they’ve done that, then by all means let’s give them the accolades they rightly deserve for improving on something.

    If this browser can suddenly do what other browsers couldn’t, what changed?
    What is/was it that was keeping existing browsers from gaining access to that data?

    Have they unlocked some nefarious black content filters?

    Based on the comments and the embedded advertising however, I suspect that not much has been done outside of simply rebranding an existing product and the advertising it and is preying on those who are maybe not as technically savvy and is in my opinion exploiting people by leading them to believe that “none of the existing products address your needs and our product does”, and they’re going to profit from that deception.

    4)Is the product really all that black? or is it merely the content that it provides (as previously mentioned by numerous others, portal sites already serve this need)
    What if I don’t think the product is black enough?
    What if someone thinks the product is too black?

    What if I’m of mixed descent and I’m half black and half white,
    where’s the browser that speaks to me?

    To wrap it all up, does this product truly deliver what is advertised, does it truly bring the black community together, does it truly provide people with news and content that was not previously available or is this nothing short of a targeted marketing campaign of a rebranded free product?

  35. I really appreciated everyone’s answer’s at first before I read ABW tirade featuring the fact that she didn’t care whether the sister Sowande was wet-nursed and on and on. I thought that was disrespectful in the sense that she stated a fact and that fact has been an identifying marker in our culture as Blacks, Afro-Americans,POC or what have you. I do agree on the demographic mark-up and the fact that we shouldn’t group ourselves anymore than we already are,but we do a better job than any bigot,racist or naysayer can do. I appreciate your platform,don’t have to agree bit in terms of respect,do we even adhere to that anymore maybe not. After all who is Coretta Scott King or Sowando’s mom for that matter huh? Yes the powers that be have done a real head job on a lot of us me included,but I see nothing wrong with giving a service geared for POC everybody else has made there mark. We lose ourselves and I mean our very core of spiritual being when we choose to hate and not give people a try, I blog whole-heartedly because I understand that nothing is by coincidence,that is only my personal belief,I go on sites that appeal to my level of consciousness no one else but am turned off by people that want to categorize everything and everyone according to their ideals,that’s not fair and it will resurface again to bite you in the posterior. Once you gain an audience you have a responsibility to guide and sometimes rise above your platform statements and believe that your experience is not unique nor are you. We don’t own the rights on Anger nor should we trifle with aspects of it,but again that is my opinion and I will be back before I am invited off. I marched in several marches but the beauty of those thousands of people have shaped and formed me not plunged me deeper in a place that no light could enter, I am angry now because my job has continued to discriminate against me because of gender and the only people that assisted me were a Bosnian Lawyer I befriended in College. You have many things to be proud of people,this is only a sliver of the American Pie,who really cares about a Black Browser when Bill Gates has made millions off his technology and so have his predecessors and not much has been said about that,Yes we are huge consumers so why not have that included in our resume’s along with other Black Collectibles that were passed over and forgotten in this throw away society. Many people rehash for the cash,rename it and put it on the market and alot of POC are the first to purchase, maybe someone other than us will see some value to it. Thanks!

  36. Point 1 : The Digital Divide is still alive and kicking. With this browser assist with the divide? In some cases yes and in other cases it probably won’t do much of anything…

    Point 2 : Browsing for Profits. Most all browsers are about bringing money into the coffers. If its not about money, then it doesn’t make too much sense…

    Point 3 : Is this a situation where black folk are being exploited? HmMmM! That’s a darn good question. Let’s say that the answer is yes. Evidence to support this line of thinking would point to the fact that this is the only SPECIFIC browser out there for people to utilize. HOWEVER, such isn’t the case, there are in fact other browsers out there that are geared to a specific group of people. Women to be exact.

    If the answer is no, then why aren’t there other ethnic specific browsers that are being introduced at the sametime…

    My opinion : Simple, this is just another attempt by a company to gather information as to whether or not a GROUP specific application is worth the time of day to have. Sure they probably have an astronomical amount of add-ons to attach to this browser.. okay I’d give them that… perhaps this is just another attempt to examine the whole social network media mystery of how and why people gather together over the internet… and how people behave once they have been introduced to these settings… heck… anything is possible…

    Bottomline… you can’t judge a book by its cover… check it out for yourself… and then come up with your very own conclusions… I must admit that at first I was skeptical, I haven’t downloaded and or uploaded anything to my comp… Will I? HmMm! Probably not… I am very well versed on how to use the internet for research purposes…

    I think that this could be useful to someone else… hence, I’m not going to knock anyone hussle until victims are scattered about.

    Just my thoughts.

  37. I sit and think about how cultural phenomenon’s were formed by Blacks. think about it; the Blues was created simply because a bunch of Black folks got together and sung their worries, cries, fears, and aspirations with one another as they picked cotton. they suffered, but they experienced each other firsthand. Jazz, Soul, Hip-Hop, same thing; rhythmic beats, aggressive sounds and esoteric jargon metamorphosed into revolutionary musical forms, because Blacks experienced one another as they protested their conditions. maybe im just looking for the next Black cultural revolution, or maybe just widespread Black unity, but i don’t see it lying within the internet community (maybe im wrong, times do change). I just think the emphasis needs to be on experiencing each other firsthand, not experiencing each other through our fuckin profiles. truth be told, you’re likely to learn a ton about someone via their myspace page, but falling under the guise that we can unite as a people under the umbrella of telecommunications is just as flawed (in my opinion) as the belief that white people (or any other people) will understand us by just googling us up. i fully support vehicles for black unity and expression, i just don’t think this is it. smells more like targeted marketing.

  38. Lawgurl,

    Point 2 : Browsing for Profits. Most all browsers are about bringing money into the coffers. If its not about money, then it doesn’t make too much sense…

    What browsers are you talking about? Most if not all browsers are free and all of the major ones — internet explorer, firefox, safari — do NOT have ads in them or make you pay for them in any way. Firefox is open source, so it is not only free but anyone is able to use the code to build their own.

    So how are browsers about money?

    Point 3 : Is this a situation where black folk are being exploited? Evidence to support this line of thinking would point to the fact that this is the only SPECIFIC browser out there for people to utilize. HOWEVER, such isn’t the case, there are in fact other browsers out there that are geared to a specific group of people. Women to be exact.

    There is, as far as I know, ONE browser out there for women and it’s not used much for a lot of the same reason people are complaining about this one. I can’t think of a single person i know who even uses that thing and the only mention it’s hard lately is to say “hey, isn’t blackbird kinda like that browser for women no one uses?”

    Also, the existence or not of other group-specific browsers has nothing to do with whether THIS one is exploitative.

    check it out for yourself… and then come up with your very own conclusions

    actually, I did that before writing this post.

  39. Ok…sometimes my people disappoint me to near tears and concern for my daughters future.

    One of the major reasons Black people lag in quality schools, political clout, and even quality retail shopping experiences is because we don’t force people to respect us. And the way people gain respect in America is with the dollar bill. So at every viable opportunity we recieve to support a legitimate black business and re-route dollars through our communities we should jump at it.

    Until we do that our schools, public policy, housing standards, crime prevention, health care, and everything else will lag behind every other cultural group in this country.

    I am starting an online bookstore that caters to Black people and almost every prospective investor I went to said: 1) black people don’t read, & 2) why would Black people support you versus B&N, Amazon, or Borders.

    None of them thought about the fact that Black people read more than Urban Lit or books about Hep me get a man. That type of target marketing never quite gets the same response as Blackbird. Its really sad that we can not find it within our hearts and minds to support black people.

    And for anyone that says well, Black businesses do not offer quality products or services…I say find the right black business and support them. (And it’s not like all white owned businesses always treat us better and provide superior products.) This is the only way that we will affect change to our current standards of living. Barack cannot do it by himself. WE have to take responsibility for ourselves and pull each other up by the boot straps.

    Stop complaining and BE THE CHANGE

  40. Derrick,

    You seem to have missed the point. It never ceases to amaze me how often that happens in this discussion.

    The objection to BlackBird isn’t: OMG there shouldn’t be things aimed at just black people!

    Well, not from me and any non-racists. The objection is that the concept is dumb. Why do Black people need a separate piece of software to access the internet? How does using this browser make the internet better for black people? It doesn’t.

    Now, if you want me to support a black business, I am (usually) there. A bookstore aimed at black people? Why yes, I am all about that. But what if you opened your bookstore and someone came in and said “You know, you should use my special cash register for black people. It takes their money the same as a regular cash register, but it’s all black instead of beige. Also, it will flash ads at them while showing how much they should pay.” You would tell that person to get the fuck out of your store, wouldn’t you?

    Or how about, when you’re building the store, if someone came along and said “You need these special shelves to put black books on. they’re designed for black people who read black books. Also, you need a special door for black people to walk through. Whenever it opens it plays hip hop.”

    You would find that stupid as well, wouldn’t you?

    Of course, you may decide to buy your hardware or other equipment from a black-owned business, but the shelves and doors and cash registers and computers and whatever else you buy, regardless of the race of those who sold them, would not be in some way different because the seller is black or white or asian or whatnot.

    No one needs a special black cash register.

    No one needs a special black browser.

    How many times do I have to say it? WEB PORTAL.

    It never fails to amaze me how some people will trip over themselves to defend something just because it’s black owned.

  41. Ugh. It’s just not very well executed. And as usual, folks underestimate the presence of blacks on the web and tech savvy as a whole.

  42. I’ve read the comments so far. It’s an interesting variation of opinion on the subject of the new browser. I installed it several days ago, and though I haven’t had the “take over” problem ABW experienced, I’ve noticed a few things lacking in a few areas. I haven’t formed an opinion on the subject, either way. I still use Firefox and BlackBird daily, sometimes interchangeably, so I’m sure I will be able to determine my level of comfort soon.

    And while “ben” seemingly laughed at the essay posted at http://www.racismreview.com, i walked away, after reading it, with a far more reasoned response. I actually agree with the points the writer makes.

    I will continue to use BlackBird off and on unless something outrageous happens like the report ABW shared. I’m not down with programs that hijack.

    But I do have a question for the community here: How exactly do you guys and gals go about finding new and interesting black websites (for those who bother to do so, of course)? Is there a more convenient way of accomplishing this goal outside of the usual methods–Google, link follow, social networks, word of mouth, etc.?

    I’m not sure how high up this is on the priority list for the Blackbird browser, but if it can make discovering new blogs and websites from African Americans–further exposing me to interesting and thought provoking perspectives–then, at least for me, it’s worth it’s weight in gold. Until then, I’m prepared to wait before I make a firm stance on Blackbird.

  43. I’m coming late to this discussion — I only just heard about Blackbird the other night on News & Notes, and I haven’t had a chance to look around for discussion about it ’til now. I was pleased to see this entry of yours come up as result #5 in a search for [blackbird browser].

    Interesting points about ads and such. Did you hear the News & Notes segment in which Farai Chideya spoke with Blackbird CEO Ed Young and Media Assassin blogger Harry Allen? It seemed to me (from my perspective of having not previously heard of the browser or any of the discussion about it) that Chideya was trying to get Young and Allen to disagree about the browser, but the two of them kept agreeing that it was a good thing. I found their arguments pretty compelling; if I remember right, they were discussing it in terms of things like helping relevant search results appear near the beginning of the results list (which I assumed they did using something like Google’s custom search engines). But nobody mentioned the ads at all; I’m now wondering whether the discussion would’ve gone differently if someone had brought up that aspect.

    They also mentioned the White Bird browser (“A Browser for White People”) in passing; from their description, it sounded (intentionally) pretty funny, but I haven’t had a chance to look at the site yet.

    …The Ars Technica review of Blackbird also doesn’t mention the ads; I wonder what’s up with that.

  44. I had not heard that segment! I wish they had asked me to speak on the topic, because I would have definitely brought it up.

    All of the good things they mention about the browser, including that search thing, could have all been accomplished without a browser, though. i keep coming up against this fact — why is the software necessary? No one has yet given me a compelling reason. And with the ads being there, the only thing i can come up with is that there’s something going on in the code itself that benefits the people who made it.

  45. The browser disregarding instructions to follow your preferences sang out ‘Malware’ loud and clear to me.

    If a getting on WASP can put in two cents worth…Google allows one to choose search parameters for a custom browser.
    I share finds with friends via Del.icio.us links and Google Reader. The social networking sites trade info back-and-forth all the time.

    http://delicious.com/OPIT/black

    That is a ‘tag’ after OPIT. The index can also be searched in friends’ files. Click on tag options on the upper right.
    I can also access friends’ choices on Google Reader.
    Educators and scientists have blazed a trail of search options that just needs to be known.

    Clipmarks is interesting, and StumbleUpon.

    There may well be a use for ‘black news'; that browser doesn’t sound like it is a solution I’d use, however.

  46. I use a number of browsers. I’m Hispanic I’d use spanish language targeted browsers, what the big deal? Just another option.

  47. I personally don’t like BlackBird because it’s gaudy and cumbersome. When I heard “BlackBird” I immediately thought of the stealth fighter, and thought it’d be sleek, but I got an interface that was chunky and annoying. The chrome at the top take up like a third of the screen. I’m just fine with AnyColor for FireFox, thank you. I get the whole “trying to get African-Americans online” thing, but I think they took the wrong path.

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