Catherine Knight Steele is a leading voice in the literature on Black women in digital spaces. In “Black Bloggers and Their Varied Publics: The Everyday Politics of Black Discourse Online”, Steele (2018) describes the incentive for marginalized groups to cultivate their own online spaces with likeminded individuals. Steele claims that the historical significance of why these groups create alternative online spaces is because they were prohibited from participating in social and political conversations. Although not a part of the decisions made for and about their wellbeing, marginalized groups were not given the opportunity to contribute to these decisions that will affect them. In general, people of color, specifically lower class, are locked out from decision making in laws and policies and even from social commentary. Steele (2018) writes, “marginalized populations have more motivation to form spaces outside the dominant purview for this activity” (p. 113) implying the reason to form these spaces as a result of exclusion. Steele speaks to how Black bloggers use online spaces, technically accessible to the masses, but use coding discourse which intentionally opts them out of engaging with the dominant group.
Similarly, sites like Very Smart Brothers, For Harriet, and Blavity use a dialect which speaks directly to their audience of black millennials. The expansion of telecommunications and the way in which people of color are leveraging oral traditions in a fresh new way, positions them as the vanguards of social media. The African American community transforms and takes the use of social network sites to a whole other level, which everyone benefits from.
According to Steele (2018), scholars have over studied Twitter and have neglected the power in blogging. She claims that black bloggers parallel African oral interpersonal communications and there’s opportunity for bloggers to capitalize off of that tradition (p. 113). Steele writes, “Black Americans in the nine blogging communities in this study capitalize on this skill set to use their platforms in the creation of alternate publics that use covert
methods to interrogate issues politically critical to the resistance of oppression” (p. 113). In this passage describes what it means when black bloggers take advantage of their intellectual labor.
For Black Americans, there is a historical significance to the barrier that prevents their participation in “public debates” (Steele, p. 114). Steele analyzes how they are reclaiming their agency through the use of online blogging based on the platforms that were studied. In this way, It can be argued if by choice or necessity that Black Americans have resisted the ways of dominant culture. In doing so, the Black community carved out an alternative space for the community to unify in a meaningful way. As a result, and because of being locked out of dominant conversations, Black Americans have created an online hub that serves as a resource.
Steele (2018) addresses scholars who homogenize the subspaces that were created and used differently by marginalized groups. It’s a phenomenon that deserves to be studied through an intersectional framework. Similarly, to the academy which groups the needs and desires of marginalized people, the study of alternative public forums warns scholars from doing the same. In this way, pockets of “internet communities” are inaccurately grouped and defined. Although these forums and platforms consists of varying demographics whose needs, interests, and lifestyles are not the same.