When I saw the news break on Twitter about Univision, the premier media company for Latinos in the U.S., acquiring The Root, an African American oriented news and culture website, I retweeted it immediately. I retweeted the news because it instantly signaled to me the evidence of hope that someone somewhere had a major conversation revealing the power of collaboration between communities of color. It signals that someone understood that cultural inclusion breeds change and innovation.
In other words, this shift in perspective is more than just a money move or a PR plot – it’s a game-changing moment. As I retweeted in rejoice, others retweeted in reluctancy with a few questions in mind, “Didn’t Essence Magazine partner with Latina Magazine 10 years ago?” “What does this mean for the future of African American news sites?” “Isn’t this blended acquisition of an African American platform by a Hispanic-driven brand is no-brainer?” Yes, it depends, and not so much.
Since 2008, The Root has become a leading website for African American readers and boasts an audience of 5 million unique users a month. Univision says The Root will “retain its editorial voice and mission but will now have access to greater resources, including Univision’s digital production facilities and publishing infrastructure.”
That’s great to know but the most promising advantage of this acquisition is the increased likelihood of intersectionality in three ways.
Brands/organizations that have a need to target both the African American and Hispanic communities now have an option to dig into both then drill down to the message specifics without fighting over which of the two audiences prove to be more valuable to their marketing/advertising budgets.
The lens of Hispanic/Latino culture alone is a rich case study of intersectionality both racially and culturally. Consider the experiences of Black Hispanics, a population who not are African Americans but speak Spanish. Consider the outlook of African Americans who have been heavily exposed to the influence of Hispanic/Latino communities over their lifetime though their extended families or neighborhoods. Each have authentic stories that relate and distinct identities that complement one another. Collectively, the acquisition makes both groups see their own relevance through the validation of multicultural stories with less content and images based on the divide of class, economics and geography.
Lastly (and what seems like the most important point to me), here’s an opportunity for audiences to challenge media outlets to provide us with more cross-cultural content. If diverse audiences are collaborating to greater impact conditions in our communities, why shouldn’t we see more companies find synergy to improve communication for people working within an international or multicultural environment or witness more media organizations merging and developing platforms that give depth of voice and length of distribution to stories that empower and entertain vital groups who are culturally common?
No The Root or Univision are not minority-owned but their organizations are clearly committed to determining what they can accomplish together for the good of their audiences. Perhaps this will even encourage folks of color to seek higher positions in media management or inspire collaborations that establish support for media ownership.
Since communication is the one most fundamental aspect people must get right when attempting achieve and understand how cross-cultural collaboration breeds innovation, it’s imperative that media take the lead in creating and displaying the intersections of cultural conversation in powerful and progressive ways.