Black women bloggers reflect the diversity of the blogosphere. While research continues to reveal new insights, few social scientists look at how Black women bloggers contribute to the internet. I included a summary of five here.
Black Feminism: The Foundation of Black Women’s Blogs
Robin Boylorn, a communications scholar, describes Black women’s blogs as a form of autoethnography. Boylorn believes blogs give the opportunity for Black women to practice Black feminism and womanism. Specifically, they can center their lived experiences as a form of expertise. They accomplish this using personal narratives to achieve community and demonstrate activism. In doing so, Black women bloggers uplift marginalized voices, inspire cultural criticism, lead to calls for political action, and enable people to engage in a social justice dialogue.
Black Lesbian Bloggers Challenge Invisible Intersectionality
Julia Jordan-Zachery, Director of Black Studies at Providence College, usesintersectionality to studydoubly marginalized groups. She argues we should recognize that even in intersectionality, people might not fit into the frameworks we create for them. A Black heterosexual woman might not provide the same insights as Black lesbians. She examined 12 blogs owned by Black lesbians and found they engage in “self-naming” to highlight the parts of their identity mainstream makes invisible.
Black Women Bloggers Represent Britain too!
Deborah Gabriel interviewed 26 Black women bloggers residing in Great Britain. She aimed to figure out how and why they divulge their racial or ethnic identity online. The bloggers emphasized the importance of cultural authenticity and discursive activism. Cultural authenticity includes speaking about Black people’s issues based on one’s lived experience. Discursive activism refers to challenging negative stereotypes about Black women.
Black Women Blog About Natural Hair
NPR reported a 26% decrease between 2008 and 2003 in sales of hair relaxer. One reason may be the virtual community Black women created to discuss the natural hair journey. Tameka N. Ellingtondid a study that included a focus group, interviews, and content analysis of Black women bloggers. According to Ellington, natural hair bloggers fell in 4 categories:
- Product reviewer/promoter
- Health/fitness guru
Most women promoted products or provided encouragement and support for Black women looking for information about natural hair. Specifically, Black women sought an education about natural hair, citing growing bought small acceptance in addition to lack of information.
Black Women Bloggers + Bourdieu = Digital Sociology
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist whose theories inform research about social life today. Bourdieu informs a study led by Andre Brock about Black women bloggers that uses the concept of capital:
“ Pierre Bourdieu saw human capacities and opportunities as embodied in forms of social, economic, and cultural ‘capital’ generated within the particular structural ‘fields’ in which they are located.”1
The study focused on Black women blogging and discussing marriage. Black women’s blogs and their comments about them push back against stereotypes about Black women having a bitch attitude, opposing interracial relationships and always being strong. Therefore, blogs enable Black women to form multiple of capital.
Cultural capital refers to the preferences, ideas, and symbols that serve as resources for social action. Black women on blogs show cultural capital by defining Black womanhood for themselves. Technical capital refers to the how members of a group mobilize around their shared technical expertise. They use this capital to empower their group to gain status and resources. Black women use their technical and cultural capital to create blogs, videos, and other online resources to combat negative portrayals.
Black women bloggers offer a unique niche on the internet that combats negative portrayals dominant in traditional media. As digital media continues to expand, I speculate corporations will make an effort to leverage relationships with Black women bloggers. I also speculate, however, Black women will leverage their relationships on social networks to create corporations. This includes nonprofit work as well.
These studies have a few key takeaways on Black women bloggers:
- Black feminism shapes their identity as they combat stereotypes & speak to cultural issues.
- Black women bloggers create a virtual sorority to discuss topics like marriage and natural hair.
- Black women bloggers recognize the importance of intersectionality.
- Black women bloggers complicate the narrative about the digital divide.
Black women will continue to embrace technology. As we move forward in an increasingly computer-mediated society, I hope that educational programs and tech companies seek to have Black women represented as producers rather than consumers of digital technology.
- Excerpt From: John Scott. “A Dictionary of Sociology.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/wU6S3.l ↩