Welcome to the Grio

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

In 2005 I left CBS News and forfeited the comfort of a steady paycheck to tell a story. The story was of my childhood in Newark, NJ and my journey through my family’s history to find answers to today’s racial disparities.

Along the way I discovered a plantation in North Carolina where my family was once enslaved. The owner of the plantation was a 62-year old white man who was a direct descendant of my family’s former slave-owner and his name was the same as mine-David Wilson.

I made this story the subject of a documentary film that focused on our encounter and the issues surrounding race in America. The film, Meeting David Wilson, aired last year on MSNBC.

What was most unique about my story was that it was being told. Everyday there are countless stories from within the African-American community and from the black perspective that will never be given their fair weight of importance or be shared with the rest of the world. Even with the expansion of media through cable and the Internet, it seems as if we are still underserved when it comes to stories and issues that reflect and affect us.

This is why I am overjoyed to present to the world the Grio, or “the storyteller.” TheGrio.com is the first video news community focused on black stories and perspectives that go underreported or unnoticed nationally. TheGrio.com is where the diversity of our voices can be heard and where we stay connected.

What makes the Grio different from any other existing site is that we have the reach of a major news entity, and the focus on the sensitivities and interests of Black America. We have an unrivaled amount of video coverage as well as articles and blogs from some of the leading figures and fresh voices in our community.

This is perhaps the most fascinating time to launch this site. We have an African-American occupying the White House with his beautiful family; yet one in every third black male born today will spend time in prison, furthering the crisis of broken black homes.

We have black CEOs heading American Express, Xerox, and Aetna; yet some black communities see unemployment at levels comparable to the days of the Great Depression. It seems as if the disparity between our individual potential and our collective reality has never been greater.

I believe we work to bridge that gap by creating dialogue within ourselves and by staying informed of our politics, business, and communities throughout the country. So whether, you are a liberal or conservative, young or old, rich or poor, business executive or ex-convict, theGrio.com represents a platform that allows us to engage each other, celebrate our community, and reflect on our culture.

As we hope that you will make theGrio.com the place to watch and read the news that matters to us, we encourage you to contribute with comments and your submission of blogs and video. Be a part of the conversation, or in other words, tell your story.