Virtual Communities

African American Websites are hooking people up in more ways than one

running. But if Hookt lives up to its potential, members will enjoy rich content and community elements. With plans under way to provide e-commerce, product offerings will include a collection of CDs, DVDs, vinyl, and video games, and accessories for Playstation, Gameboy, Dreamcast, and the like. “The Hooktstore” currently offers the hottest in hip-hop clothing from such designer lines as Phat Pharm and Mecca.

Investing
Blackstocks.com is a specialty financial site that not only offers content but a broad range of products and services that African Americans are not accustomed to finding elsewhere. Launched two years ago, Blackstocks provides information and education about saving, investing, and creating wealth. Aside from stock quotes and info on upcoming IPOs, Blackstocks hosts chat sessions on investing, sponsors an e-mail newsletter, and features online seminars and teleconferences. The site, which averages 400,000 unique visitors a month, encourages investment initiatives, including opening investment, savings, and checking accounts online. Its “Honey Report” gives the lowdown on publicly traded black companies. There are member communities of individual investors, financial advisors, students, churches, and small businesses. Blackstocks.com has formed strategic partnerships with major corporations and brokerage companies to provide online banking, financial information, products, and services.

News/Culture
Africana.com is a jewel of a site that every African American family can treasure. This aesthetically appealing site, co-founded by Harvard University educator Henry Louis Gates, chronicles and provides content on the life, times, history, and future of people of African descent. “To some people we are the equivalent of a CNN International of the black world,” says Darrol G. Roberts, Africana.com’s president and CEO. Aside from its free e-mail and voice chat features, the site links users to about 85 different radio stations around the globe where people of African descent dwell, including Brazil, Morocco and the Dominican Republic. Africana.com keeps its finger on the pulse of black interests with an impressive stable of writers from around the globe, including the well-known physician Dr. Ben Carson and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. In addition to its news commentary, Africana.com features music, book, and movie reviews.

BlackWorldToday.com is visually a no-frills site, but it is exploding with content relevant to those of African descent. Run by a collective of journalists, writers, communicators, entrepreneurs, and artists, the site covers disparate black-related topics from business to health to youth. Text and voice chat rooms offer platforms for visitors from around the globe to share ideas, but one of the site’s unique offerings is its own branded Instant Messenger software available for a free download. Black WorldToday supplies hefty links to radio and video content around the world. Its “Special Reports” section delves into issues that the contributors feel warrant further coverage than straight news.

The site’s virtual mall has a wide selection of products, including kids’ books, black art, DVDs, consumer electronics, and games. “TheBlackWorld Radio Network” offers a variety of music channels from hip-hop and jazz to gospel and reggae.

Search Engines
EverythingBlack.com helps Web surfers find content of specific interest to African Americans. While offering up a good volume

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