By Jada F. Smith
Internet access, a few bucks in domain registration fees, an opinion and voilà – anyone can have their own little piece of cyberspace. But when Darrell Williams started TheLoop21.com in 2008, he brought 10 years of economic and financial know-how with him, adding a color other than green to the online financial community. Williams started TheLoop21.com to spark discussion about economic and fiscal policy in the black community, with hopes of adding that dialogue to the mainstream. We spoke to Williams about the way economic policy is covered in African-American media, the future of the black community during the recession, the role of online publishing in American media and the future of TheLoop21.com.
The Atlanta Post: How did you transition from economist to online media publisher? But more importantly, why did you make that career transition?
Darrell Williams: It really isn’t a transition. I still do my economic consulting, but my interest in media publishing came from a desire to have an impact on the public discourse especially when it came to issues that impact communities of color and African Americans in particular. I had a business interest, but also a social motivation to have black media give a true and accurate perspective [about economic and fiscal policy] for the African American community. There’s a void when it comes to talking about serious issues that matter.
TAP: And do you see TheLoop21.com accomplishing that?
DW: I think we’re definitely making progress in that direction. I think the overall goal of elevating African American concerns and issues to a national platform is a big task and it won’t happen over night or through one outlet, but it’s a goal that’s worth pursuing.
TAP: What do you think was missing from black media before you started TheLoop21, and what do you think is still missing now?
DW: I don’t see it as a negative as what’s missing. There’s a lot of black media that’s fantastic and serves a wonderful purpose. We need to be entertained and informed at the same time, but there’s always room for more and different ways of looking at issues. There’s not a limit on the variety of voices in the mainstream so there shouldn’t be any limit in the black community. I think black media is maturing and we’re part of that maturation process.
TAP: As an economist, what do you think is missing from the black community’s education about money and financial literacy?
DW: There’s two different things: to know and to practice. The knowledge is out there but the practice – people really understanding the long term value of practicing good financial literacy – is missing. The challenge is getting people to see the benefit from it. That means taking a more long term view in our community of how we define wealth and accomplishment. A lot of times, we define it as what we can have now, instead of real wealth and power that is created over time.