Wiring-up Black Britain

Community-oriented web sites are defining the emerging Black British experience in cyberspace.
Black Britain is not the most outstanding example of wired up communities. African Americans are closer to this vaunted ideal. But “going digital” is increasingly the preferred option of African-Caribbeans in the UK.

Mutual aid and self-help
Overcoming the worst effects of information poverty is a typical theme. Patrick Vernon’s Every Generation serves as an “online community resource,” says the Labour councillor and race equality chief in London. “We aim to empower young people and link them with the older generation through history, family genealogy and heritage,” he says. Notably, Every Generation won the Commission for Racial Equality 2003 Race in the Media Award for best website.

There is an urgent need for Black-led Internet initiatives. Leaders of the African British organisation, ACFF, aim “to raise the aspirations and achievements, academically, professionally and economically for people of African and Caribbean descent”.
Furthermore, Afro-British communities use the Internet to channel aid to their kith and kin in far-off homelands. AFFORD – Africa Foundation for Development “aims to involve Africans abroad more directly in Africa’s development”.

Politics and civil rights
Campaigning groups are starting to make an impact. LIGALI, the Pan African Human Rights Organisation, challenges the misrepresentation of African people, culture and history in the British media. “We produce progressive Africentric media and education programmes that actively work for self determination, socio-political freedom, physical wealth and spiritual health”.
The Africa Reparations Movement demands reparations from the former colonial powers for the harm done to Africa and the African Diaspora “through enslavement, colonisation, and racism”.
Cultural activities
The Africa Centre projects a positive face of Africa in London. The directors use the Internet to broadcast their meetings, talks, exhibitions, cinema, literature, and performing arts.
British Black Music has its staunch defenders, too. The online home for the Black Music Congress is the hub for information regarding the state of the African British Music
Business and professionals
Web site organisers are catering for a new class of Black achievers. The EPN is an online forum for networking and socialising amongst African British business owners and professionals working in London and environs. The 100 Black Men of London, mobilise African British professionals to raise the aspirations of youth and their communities.

News, views and commentaries
Cyberactivists are convinced that sharing information is the key to a better future. The Black Presence in Britain highlights the lives of the African /Caribbean people since the 1950’s. Black In Britain bridges the digital gap with news, views, and lists of cultural events.

The common view is that using the Internet and new information technologies is “liberating”. Moreover, this has global implications. Online Black cyberactivists everywhere are using the Internet to encourage community cohesion, promote alliances, and to prod uncaring politicians in to action on equality demands.

Of course, we cannot ensure that new technologies — the personal computer, the World Wide Web, the all-powerful smartphone — will help set beleaguered minorities free or merely give us that illusion. My forthcoming book The Audacity of Cyberspace explores the issues behind the astonishing trend toward Black cyberpower. It includes:
• Articles by leading specialists and cyber activists from America, Britain and Sub Saharan Africa
• Profiles of more than 100 online community organisations
• The 50 best innovative strategies by governments and infrastructure companies
• Get the facts from 500 internet sources on health care, xenophobia, workers’ rights, or the depiction of minorities in the mass media.