In an engaging and enlightening discussion at REVOLT WORLD‘s Mavericks of Media event, media moguls Detavio Samuels, Jason Lee, and ESSENCE Venture’s President and CEO Caroline Wanga came together to emphasize the significance of uplifting Black media outlets. Their insightful conversation shed light on the evolving landscape of media and its role in empowering Black voices.
Frequently, Black consumers and content creators find themselves disadvantaged within media platforms lacking representation that mirrors their own experiences. Through their discussion, the trio of media moguls delved deeper into the impact of non-Black media outlets on the culture, offering valuable insights.
“There’s no problem with Black [targeted] media if you’re paying us at the value that you’re pilfering from us,” said Wanga. “The difference between Black owned and Black targeted is that the dollar stays with us, comes back to us, gets multiplied by us and continues to drive generational wealth commensurate to what we contribute to the culture,” she added.
Not only is giving back to Black creators essential, but it is also important for them to have their own outlets as well. For Hollywood Unlocked owner Lee, having control over his own narrative is significant. After being a part of VH1’s Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood, Lee learned why Black people should be in control of what is theirs because of how he was depicted on screen.
“What I realized was, I was mad at the community for seeing me one way but then had to take responsibility [because] that’s all that I was giving them,” said Lee.
He also stressed the importance of not supporting those who do not support the community by stating, “If they’re not supporting Black, if they’re not showing up for ESSENCE, if they’re not coming to REVOLT, if they’re not coming to my award show, don’t support them either because they ain’t earned it.”
The Black dollar plays a pivotal role in ensuring success and longevity of media outlets. In conjunction with being in control of the narrative, Wanga also underscored importance of financial power. “We have a saying at Essence that was started by one of our partners that is very simple, ‘the revolution must be financed at full value, no discounts,'” said Wanga.
Lee also felt that there is a need for a variety of Black media outlets in the industry to allow room for other Black creators to thrive. “That’s the thing that I always try to do when I create a space is share it with everybody,” he said. “Ultimately, if I’m the only one getting it, I’m just as much a part of the problem as the people that are giving it to us that don’t look like us.”
Black ownership in the media space is forever evolving, but with the right tools and expertise there is always a path to be forged ahead.
“You are the product, you are the one defining culture. We are simply brokers, if you stop doing you, we can’t do us, and if we can’t do us then the money don’t come back to you,” Wanga concluded.