Black Voices and Second Chances

The launch of AOL/HuffPost/Black Voices is underway and what I love most about it is that Christina Norman sits atop the new venture.

It remains to be seen what becomes of this site for African Americans, but the Norman choice as Executive Editor reaffirms the notion of  “second chances” for women media executives, something that has, until recently, been denied us. With the Norman appointment, and former NPR head Vivian Schiller headed into the NBC/Comcast fold in charge of their online efforts, we have achieved some parity in the game of revolving doors in the C-suites. Just another top job in the industry…not banishment if things don’t work out.

As you know, Christina Norman was infamously fired from Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network. Arianna Huffington, with her unerring sense of PR, said she approached Norman afterwards, asking if she wanted to do something different. Actually, Norman did:

After I was fired from OWN, I knew that I wanted my next chapter to begin in an area that was new for me…Selfishly, I love the chance to step into a new kind of role and unleash my inner blogger. And I’m getting another front row seat — this one as we continue the jerky dance we have with the issues of race, class and equality. 

This, from her first “inner blog,” describing herself as a Black/Puerto Rican from the South Bronx who knows race issues when she sees them. In this introductory statement she mentions her successes as president of MTV, at VH1, and is extremely delicate about the Oprah parting:

In January, I was there for the launch of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, now being steered to its next phase by OW herself and a talented, dedicated and passionate team.

Arianna has partnered in Black Voices with another high-profile Black woman–co-founder of BET and billionaire philanthropist/filmmaker Sheila Johnson. In her blogpost she promises a high-profile and deeply experienced cadre of contributors:

As the editors of the nation’s first black-owned and operated newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, declared on the front page of their inaugural issue, 184 years ago, “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

And, finally, Rebecca Carroll, the talented author and Managing Editor of the newly-launched site has this insight:

“…it has occurred to me that for the first time in my own history and the years I’ve thought about my racial identity, it’s actually really cool to be black. “

Of course, there is  the complicated and controversial Arianna to be dealt with, the lawsuits from bloggers who were never paid (and didn’t think about it until Arianna cashed in), the competition from the other of-color sites: NBC’s The Griot, WashPo’s The Root, and what we hope will be a more boisterous online presence from Ebony and Essence magazines.

But I have a feeling these three women of color will give it their best. And if it doesn’t work out here, they will certainly find spots elsewhere in the media megaworld. That’s what we call progress.  In the meantime, let’s all be cool.

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