Social Media Sharecropping: Black Tech Adoption
This panel is about the many ways in which modern internet adoption and use mirrors the development of agrarian sharecropping in the South following the Civil War- whereby African Americans provided massive amounts of labor to make other people rich, but could never move beyond basic subsistence living. According to the Pew Internet& American Life Project,as of May 2011, 25% of online African Americans now use Twitter, compared with 9% of such whites. African-American and Latino internet users are each significantly more likely than whites to be Twitter adopters. One out of ten African-American internet users now visit Twitter on a typical day—that is double the rate for Latinos and nearly four times the rate for whites. Pew research has also indicated that Blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to use mobile devices to text message, use social networking sites, use the internet, watch and record videos, make charitable donation, use email, play games, listen to music, instant message and post multimedia content online. Yet disproportionate consumption of technology among Blacks, does not appear to be translating into wealth building and job creation in a community facing a 16.1 unemployment rate. Techcrunch founder, Michael Arrington caused a minor controversy when CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked him about Black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Arrington replied “I don’t know a single Black entrepreneur.” In 2012, the definition of Digital Divide appears to have shifted from access to technology to how communities of color leverage that technology.
Called “the Dean of Black Bloggers” and “a woman who's on the cutting edge of the internet and social media," Gina McCauley is a lawyer turned blogger who founded two popular blogs: MichelleObamaWatch.com and WhatAboutOurDaughters.com. She is also the founder of Blogging While Brown Conference.
In 2007, named Ms. McCauley one of the 25 Most Influential African Americans, right after then-senator Barack Obama. That same year she won the Black Weblog Award Judges’ Award for “Blog of the Year”. In 2009, she was the Sonya Sanchez keynote speaker at the Kentucky Women’s Writers’ Conference. In 2010, she was selected to The Root 100, The Root’s list of emerging and established leaders in the African-American community. In 2011, she was selected as a “Digital Doyenne” by the Digital Moving Images Salon at Spelman College and Women in Film and Television- Atlanta.
Her blog posts are cited frequently in mainstream media, including on CNN, Entertainment Tonight, and the CBS Morning Show, PBS, NDTV, NPR, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, RTE Radio 1 in Ireland, and XM radio. In addition, she has written for The Guardian, The Observer, Blackvoices.com, ESSENCE.com and Essence magazine.
In response to a lack of diversity at large social media and networking conferences, Ms. McCauley founded Blogging While Brown, the first international conference for bloggers of color. In addition to designing and implementing the curriculum for digital literacy training, she regularly speaks at some of the largest social media conferences in the world, including South by Southwest Interactive, Netroots Nation, Blogher, and Blog World Expo.