Remarketing the Gospels (of business)

nv, emerging from and for the entrepreneurial aspirations of African-Americans and other businesspeople of color, is an eye-catching periodical which also happens to be uniquely situated to ask challenging questions about diversity, technology and business culture. Unfortunately, even though its headlines often beckon with the promise of rethinking the status quo, the articles uniformly squander the possibility of critique.

Not that what’s left is all bad: As a conduit for transmitting a mix of traditional and emergent-but-risky business practices into its demographic, nv does a fine job, and does it with visual style, if not bold or innovative thought.

nv’s weakness is merely that it doesn’t know the true strength of its position. The headline on this month’s issue asks if technology is really what stands between African-Americans and the promised financial success of the new information economy. But the featured articles are far more interested in investment and growth strategies than in questioning the wisdom of the moment – that computers and fast, risky business moves are surefire tickets to success. True, this message, repeated like a mantra in Fast Company and countless other sources, doesn’t always effectively make its way into the African-American community. But it’s still disappointing to find this ideology recycled to address fears of being left behind, just as the magazine is poised to burst some of those bubbles of irrational exuberance which become tomorrow’s bad management. Even business needs strong critics from within who are willing to point out blind spots.

On the verge of becoming a truly new and important kind of voice in the usually drab world of business reporting, nv has opted instead for mere comfort. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even the name of this publishing company indicates that it isn’t about new vision, after all, but one of the oldest ways of seeing (and using) wealth: “envy."

Marc Christensen writes about books and music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].

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