The politics of the Web

Politicallyblack.com uses a new medium to promote an old ideal

Fact: the business of politics can sometimes get downright dirty, especially when it comes to issues directly affecting communities of color. Fortunately, it is possible to get past all of the mudslinging to get the knowledge you need to become an informed participant in the political process. This quest has just been made easier, thanks to the founders of www.politicallyblack.com.

“Essentially, politics is what makes the world go around. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical for blacks to be involved in it,” says Charles Ellison, a one-time intern on Capitol Hill who wrote speeches for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He and partner Roderick Conrad, a part-time writer covering Congress for the Federal News Service, spent four months putting their Washington, D.C.-based site together.

With $17,000 in savings, a Webmaster and a stable of volunteer writers, the dynamic duo, both sworn Independents, launched their “Web-nest of black political thought” this past June. After only one month, the site was boasting 100,000 hits. It’s easy to see why. The site contains a plethora of hands-on political information that will keep you coming back.

To stay abreast of the ever-changing political scene here and throughout the black diaspora, click on “Minority News Daily.” “We trump other political sites because we not only have all the white links but we have all the black links too,” says Conrad.

There are links to over 50 African American publications, as well as to the press in Africa and the Caribbean. As an interesting aside, there’s also an impressive collection of links for those particularly interested in the politics and intrigue of hip-hop.

If you want to hold your congressional representatives to their campaign promises and let them know how their decisions are affecting you personally, the “Network” page is a good place to start. You’ll find the names and e-mail addresses of every member of Congress, a way to contact powerful lobbyists, get information on the nation’s most prominent civil rights and conservative organizations, and much more. You can even check out links to sites dedicated exclusively to political satire.

There are also several single-author opinion pages, including “Put an X On It” and the “Capitol Report,” that address various aspects of current political issues. “We had to provide a vehicle where young and old voices in the community could write, express themselves and get involved in politics,” says 38-year-old Conrad.

At press time, two new areas were being developed: “Politics…On the Groove” will provide a week-in-review of the important happenings in both local and national political news. “We gather current political developments on the national scene and highlight local events by linking our audience to specific items in African American newspapers all over the country,” Conrad says. “The Box,” a potentially candid and edgy part of the site, will house message boards and is sure to become one of the site’s most popular spots.

Despite a respectable number of visitors to politicallyblack.com each month, Ellison and Conrad have yet to see a return on their initial investment. “We devoted months to

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