Over the last few years, there has been an ongoing trend of blatant Black brand suppression by white-owned media companies. From Steve Harvey to the rapper Boosie on up to the Nation of Islam, if the white man’s media machines have decided against any Black narratives, then they will take it upon themselves to silence us.
Regardless of your view on this subject, the truth is the truth. The blaring truth is that white America has made it clear that our Black realities and Black views are secondary to their beliefs about what is appropriate for public consumption.
Think about that for a second. Is there a hard push to silence any of these white supremacy organizations on "their" television networks, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or any of these other digital platforms? Is there? You know the answer.
Regardless of how you or I feel about Steve Harvey, Boosie or The Nation of Islam, the fact is - America’s racist power structure has decided to silence our people on "their platforms." With all of our combined resources and technology, why do we still operate on “their” platforms anyway?
For the last decade, I have been an advocate for creating our own media machines and digital platforms away from America’s racially bias media empires. In a recent article, Steve Harvey praised himself for being the first to set up a talkshow to be released on Facebook which will be airing within the next few months. Even though his audience is larger than mine, Steve Harvey is very wrong in this announcement. Over the last decade, I have created 5 different successful talkshows that were aired on Facebook, long before Steve Harvey or Jada Pinkett Smith even thought about it. I assessed the Facebook platform a decade ago and decided to use it for much more than posting pictures of chicken dinners and my latest collection of footwear. Once my shows gained traction, I began shortening the clips and moving followers of my content to my website to view my shows in their entireties. Again, this began - a decade ago.
What I realized back then is if you have an audience it is up to you to create your own content then take your audience to your own platform, after advertising for free on those popular white-owned platforms. The days of needing traditional television networks and even these social media platforms were over.
If you can create your content, refine your content, grow your audience and drive them directly to your own platform away from YouTube, Facebook , Instagram and all of the other white-owned media machines then you can control your voice. You can then monetize your message.
Sadly, too many of our leaders and celebrities do not have the right thinkers and doers within their camps. Why would Steve Harvey host a show on Facebook, another white man’s platform, at this stage of his career? It makes absolutely no sense. Building his own network where he can create content that will be available directly to his supporters is the way to go. Using the white man’s platforms to air his commercials is the only thing that makes sense for his brand.
Why would the Nation of Islam depend on YouTube or anyone’s platform to get their messages out? The Nation of Islam is big enough to create their own media machines without needing any of these platforms to support them. Then, looking at the rapper Boosie, who was banned from Instagram, the same thing is going on with his brand. Why would he rely on Instagram? Why not build your own network for others like himself who would support his culture?
We are not looking at this correctly. Why would you build your business solely on a platform owned by an oppressor who can shut you down at any point in time for discriminatory reasons? Playing the long and smart digital game will put you in a position to win the entire game…one game after another.
So, how does all of this apply to you? At one point in America it was impossible for Blacks to own commercial Real Estate, and even today it is still nearly impossible to do so in most areas. Times have changed, somewhat, and we are still struggling with owning our digital and physical commercial Real Estate to connect directly with our consumers. How is that possible? Answer: a lack of creativity and truly understanding the power of the digital landscape. If you can think of it, have the resources to build it, then you can do it and be it. It is really that simple.
Once you are able to build a following from providing your products and services, then you can attract them to your location, regardless of where it is. If you don’t have the money to purchase a movie theater, you can always build a digital platform to show the movies of your choice to your followers. Regardless of your products, the digital platforms that can be created by you and your team will cut the oppressor out of your process, for the most part. You can do it with the right investments in your brand and the right tools.
Here are a few tips that can help you play this digital game in ways that will empower you to control the board better.
1. If you are an established brand, with a battle-tested fan base, you should add members to your inner-team who can build your digital platforms for you. We have so many Black tech entrepreneurs, underemployed and unemployed techies who can step in to help with this. Build everything in-house, have contracts in place to protect your ideas legally. Build an amazing website that can host all of your content for your consumers.
2. Build your email list and email campaigns. Start pushing your followers and friends to sign-up for your email list. You should always be able to reach your true supporters directly without having to rely on these social media networks. Start pulling your supporters away from these social platforms to engage with your brand directly. Create an amazing email campaign that can be released monthly to support all that is happening with your brand.
3. Invest in your digital platforms, just like commercial property. You should always work to upgrade your digital presence and customers’ digital experience. Do not be afraid to spend money on your brand. These digital plays will cost you a fraction of what a brick and mortar location would cost.
These are just a few ideas to hopefully open your eyes to how important it is to own and groom your digital landscape. This is the first time in our American history we can position ourselves in the marketplace without all of the restrictions placed on us by America for being Black entrepreneurs. We did not get our 40 acres and a mule, but we do have websites, email campaigns, technology and unlimited digital bandwidth. Now is the time to change our way of thinking and elevate our usage of technology to build stronger Black brands which will build stronger Black communities.
Founding Publisher & Editorial Director
Executive Creative Director
Gallery Owner and President