My extended family numbers greater than 100 people. We have a newsletter. I haven't seen it. Every few years, there is a family trip to Barbados, the land of my ancestors. I know nothing about the trip. Folks wanted to make sure the Burnham Family Tree is up-to-date with profiles and such. I don't contribute.
Communication is to blame. We don't share a common communication platform.
The Web and Facebook would be perfect platforms to share this information, but much of my extended family isn't online, or if they are, it's only surface deep.
Some of this is because people are old. While more and more people go online it's important to note that 30% of adults over 50 don't use the Internet, according to Pew research. (That's the baby boomer generation by the way in case you are keeping score at home.) When you get to Americans over 65, well, Internet usage falls to under 40%.
It also helps to remember that the less money you have, the less likely you are to be on the Internet. My family is not poor, but few are wealthy.
What I am saying is that a great tool for social organization will miss a great many African-Americans.
Here is why this is important: 63% of teens get their news online. If we don't have a presence online to educate the young would radicals, then what the teens are learning won't come from our mouths. The Web, which can be a great leveler for mass communication, doesn't serve the needs of the African-American community, precisely because we are not there. As of 2008, fewer than 50% of African-American were online, and that number skews toward the young.
My point? If I want to learn about my extended family, I'd better pick up the phone and find out who is in charge of the mailing list. If my family wants to reach the next generation, they are going to have to use Facebook. Which do you think is more important?