…I don’t believe it is, but it’s obvious that a lot black/urban niche sites disagree with me. Over time the terms black and urban have become dangerously close to being intermingled in respects to web applications, content, and marketing, making it very difficult to identify an audience. As most of us know, one of the most important rules when building any product is “identifying your target audience", and using the word urban instead of the word black makes this essential task so much more difficult.
So why use urban? It’s obvious that most Black niche sites use the word urban to be more inclusive to non-black people, but while branding themselves urban, many black people are being excluded. A quick poll of some of my friends and random black people I talked to showed me that quite a few black men don’t associate themselves with being urban, for various reasons. From one I heard, “I’m too old to be urban”, another reported “I don’t listen to hip-hop”, one young man told me that, “I am from the country, I can’t be urban?” This was far from a professional focus group so take from it what you may, but to me this showed that there were too many different perceptions of the word urban, and not many of them exclusively point to black. But somehow this “Urban branding trend” has started to run rampant in black web technology.
So what’s the solution? If you’re targeting black people then do so, but don’t pigeon hole all blacks into the urban category. Build websites and structure content that reflects the diversity of black people, because no matter our shape, size, shade, or views we can all agree with the fact that we’re black, and as long as the content reflects that fact black people and non-black people will come.