New Web Browser Caters to Black Americans

For African-American Web surfers who just can't relate to their browsers, there's hope: the Blackbird Web browser.

Billed as "the Web browser for the African-American community," it's a modification of Mozilla Firefox with a different color scheme — black and earthy shades of green and brown — as well as certain built-in features meant to appeal to black Americans.

These include "Black Search," which brings up results tailored to what its backers assume are African-American interests; "Black News Ticker," which does more of the same; and "Blackbird TV," which is "the best of Black video on the Web."

"We believe that the Blackbird application can make it easier to find African American related content on the Internet and to interact with other members of the African American community online by sharing stories, news, comments and videos via Blackbird," reads a press release posted by 40A, the somewhat mysterious firm behind the browser, on the CrunchBase Web site.

Downloads (for Windows XP and Vista only) are free; the project claims to be funded by ads and targeted links.

Reaction from black bloggers, tech writers and commenters has been, shall we say, a bit mixed.

"Wait, why do I need a special Web browser?" asked Gizmodo writer Adrian Covert. "Last time I checked, I don't physically browse the Internet any different than anyone else."

"The way this browser is marketed, the language, and the very idea that Black people somehow need a different piece of software to deal with the Internet all rubs me the wrong way," wrote K.T. Bradford of Laptop magazine.

The BlackWeb 2.0 blog was more supportive.

"There is a Black culture and a Black Experience, and this naturally translates online and into any other medium since we are all a part of the human race," regular poster "Markus" wrote. "In 2008 it is not wrong to want to identify with your culture regardless of what that culture may be or how you choose to identify with it."

But the angriest reaction came from a commenter on Gizmodo who calls himself "Cordfucious the Ubuntu Walker."

"I am offended at this," he posted. "As a Black man in this country I don't need a browser to help my kids find culturally relevant material... it's the damn WORLD WIDE WEB... not the Black Web, or White Web or Yellow Web. ... It's s--- like this that burns me up. I need to tell my wife (who is Hispanic) that the[y] need the BlackBean browser for the Hispanic community."

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