LMC's André Brock publishes Distributed Blackness with NYU Press

Here is the review published in Booklist:


Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures.

Brock, Jr., André (author).

Feb. 2020. 288p. New York Univ., paper, $29 (9781479829965). 302.23089. REVIEW. First published February 1, 2020 (Booklist).

In the early days of the internet, much consternation was expressed over the digital divide, the conviction that low-income people, especially African Americans, were missing out on the tech revolution. This concern was rooted in a view of African Americans as uninformed, inert vessels needing to be filled with “authoritative” information. Brock provides a bracing corrective to this limited perception, noting the creative, even transgressive uses African Americans make of the web and social media as opposed to the “productive” usages urged by white technocrats. Brock notes that the initial dearth of Black online content and content creators mirrored a similar lack of diversity in traditional print and broadcast media. He questions the claim that internet browsers and search tools are color-blind, pointing out that neither search results nor marketing patterns are race neutral. Blackbird, a web browser designed to promote Black-oriented content, sought to instigate an online Black community but was accused of insularity and reverse racism, often by openly racist white critics. It is on Black Twitter that significant community conversations and information-sharing now take place, amplifying Black political power (think #BlackLivesMatter) but also facilitating cultural conversations and connections. Pair Brock’s enlightening study with Safiya Umoja Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression (2017).

— Lesley Williams

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