With an estimated 22 million users surfing and shopping online, African Americans are a digital force. Proving it, there is a growing number of social networking sites designed just for black Internet users. We’ve listed a few, and rated them informally according to their uses.
As with any online activity, use your best judgment, and never agree to meet anyone privately until after several public encounters in secured locations.
A social community for women who are mothers. You’ll find plenty of discussion about the African American family, single parenting, and more. How-to articles provide guidance from people who encounter similar challenges. There are loads of embedded links to retailers for unique shopping, and to blogs of interest. BlackMomsClub has MySpace and Flickr sites for further networking and photo swapping.
LuvShades isn’t a traditional dating site, but an online publication that features everything from articles about relationship skills, to soul food recipes. Parents, some of its content is for users at least 18-years old. Although LuvShades currently has ample content, it’s not updated regularly.
Looking for Love
BlackPlanet is the largest online community for people of color. It has grown to include sites to represent most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including Aggie Planet representing North Carolina A&T. Create a profile, post photos and videos. With its association with www.Monster.com, you can even work on professional advancement while exploring urban music, fashion, and trends.
This site claims to have thousands of singles registered, and it’s free. They emphasize the security they can offer users. But we recommend caution, since messages on AfroConnections can be sent anonymously. The search feature allows users to cruise the faces and folks who are there to make friends, dates, and more. You can post your photo and create a brief profile. After taking a trademarked personality profile, AfroConnections will send you suggested matches. Their list of success stories will make you want to try it out, and you can subscribe for additional benefits.
News & Opinion
Our favorite site, TheRoot is published by the Washington Post. But there’s no obvious alliance in terms of content or aims. TheRoot’s Editor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is also the author of
Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own
(Crown, 2007) and TheRoot has a unique association with www.AfricanDNA.com that allows users to trace their ancestry via their DNA. You’ll find meaningful original commentary as well as embedded links to blogs, newspapers, and more.
Thousands of African Americans start businesses each year. Generate a buzz about yours by using the right social networking site. Each one includes different strengths and weaknesses, depending on your goals.
BlackPlanet.com has a networking feature, but many users we talked to found it confusing. It doesn’t permit users to upload commercial profiles, business logos, or ads in their profile. While it can be a lot of fun, it’s not ideally suited for entrepreneurs.
While not geared specifically to African American users, Facebook.com has benefits for the black entrepreneur. It rates pretty high as a forum for networking, since it allows users to cultivate relationships among people they know in their communities and their college alma maters. Unfortunately, Facebook charges for advertising and seems more difficult to use when trying to promote products and services.
Who hasn’t played on Myspace.com? A cultural phenomenon, MySpace is great for networking just for the number of users online at time of day or night. It’s easy to use, allows the creation of commercial profiles, logos, and more. MySpace provides the opportunity for an ever-expanding network since your can make friend requests of others in your industry. Also, Myspace has a search feature where you can enter your industry and then meet others within it.