it possible that it has been ten years? Apparently so. And
in this day when it seems like organizations and institutions
come and go at the snap of two fingers, there is something
to be said about BC not only being alive
and kicking but growing.
someone who has been associated with BC
for a few years it is easy to get sentimental. It is also
easy to not recognize many of the achievements of the magazine.
What I point to with pride are actually two features of
BC. The first is the diversity of writers
and articles. The second is that it has become a reference
the years, BC not only expanded its readership
but it made a conscious decision to diversify the writers
and editors connected with the magazine. Someone recently
asked me whether there was a particular political orientation
that BC followed. I thought for a moment
prior to responding and then noted that while BC
is certainly to the left-of-center, when you look at the
writers you cannot summarize their opinions into one word
or term except to say that they are progressive. They come
from different parts of the movement; they often emphasize
different issues; and they have, on occasion, differences
among themselves, including sometimes sharp differences.
Yet, despite the diversity (and the differences of opinion),
BC has been able to create a family in
which those differences are accepted and respected. This
is no small accomplishment.
second feature I mentioned is that BC has
become a reference point. By this I mean that people in
different movements want to know what the columnists affiliated
with BlackCommentator.com have to say about different issues.
Their commentaries are widely reprinted and re-posted. Being
affiliated with BC is a badge of respect
even among those who may disagree with the views of some
of the writers.
BlackCommentator.com proceeds into its second decade it
has many challenges. One of the most important, and one
that faces virtually every on-line publication, is that
of fundraising. The availability of free media - irrespective
of its quality - often makes it difficult for legitimate
publications to raise funds and sustain their work. Readers
frequently take for granted that the publication will continue,
rarely questioning how the publication is put together and
who is doing the work. Until we break with magical thinking,
all our publications will be haunted.
will need to further explore expanding its media offerings.
On-line conferences, for instance, are now quite feasible
and can be done globally. BC has a role
to play in this. While BC already is engaged
in various aspects of social media, e.g., Facebook, Twitter,
it needs to position itself as an instrument for the larger
African World for purposes of communication and interchange.
And certainly, as funds increase, BC will
need to consider paid, investigative journalism. Too much
on the Web is recycled news. We need to offer more.
this is a moment to applaud the work of the original team
that constructed BlackCommentator.com; it is a time to reflect
on the accomplishments and challenges of the last ten years;
and a time to look forward and realize that no matter how
good the magazine has been, it will have to evolve as we
proceed deeper into the 21st century.
hat goes off to the writers, editors, and publisher who
have made this trip both exciting and possible.
As BC observes 10 years of publication
we offer a new feature titled "A Visit to the BC
Archives" which will continue on a regular basis.
Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher,
Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president
of TransAfricaForum and
co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized
labor in the USA. Click here
to contact Mr. Fletcher.