I could start off this article with a myriad of clever hooks, thoughtful questions or even a fancy quote but I won’t. I’m going to start off with something different, a confession. I am part of the problem Navarrow Wright is trying to eliminate. I am part of the inertia, or the lack of, causing the gulf between people of color and opportunities in the current and coming technology economy. If Mr. Wright is going to be successful in his mission, I and others like myself must realize our need for an active role to Close the Divide.
In his first, Close the Divide Hangout, Navarrow Wright talks about what the divide means, why it exists (especially our role in it growing) and the obstacles and challenges that must be met to overcome it. And while doing this he lays it out with brutal and refreshing honesty. For example, Mr. Wright describes the technology divide not as access to the consumption of technology but in the lack of using technology to economically benefit minority communities directly instead of indirectly. He cites the difference between “technology based” businesses versus technology businesses. Think building a blog on WordPress (technology based) as opposed to building WordPress itself (technology).
Wright asks us why out of the 75 businesses that were launched from Y Combinator, a start up incubator, very little to none were minorities or women? You may chime in with the usual racism or access to resources but this is where I explain why I am part of the problem Navarrow Wright trying to cure. First, this article is late because the initial writing of this article was “good enough”, which leads to the second charge, it’s late. Wright says in order to compete in the technology space, we must “do things the right way.” He explains the “right way” as in delivery of a product that is more than “good enough”, well researched and well thought out; A product that is well vetted. “Would you use this product if you didn’t make it?” asks Wright.
Wright also states we must look at technology as something vital and important to our everyday lives. Even though technology is imperative to education, job creation, access to medical information and overall empowerment, we view it as a leisure luxury or past time Wright shows. My attitude towards writing proves his point as far as my attitude towards this subject. It’s on the back burner, a leisure hobby, nothing serious like what I do in the morning. So, with that mindset, the appropriate effort isn’t put in to the project. The narrow focus which is required to do your best isn’t there. And I’m an adult! Navarrow Wright brings up that this attitude is in our children, right now. And with adults and the up and coming generation not having this focus, it leads to another problem; Not exposing ourselves to opportunities.
So add all those together, you end up with a permanent “digital underclass”, according to Navarrow Wright. An underclass asking and expecting opportunities that we are no prepared for, when in our history, has been one of creating those opportunities by striving to go beyond excellence. Navarrow Wright also touched on other topics like why products geared towards people of color don’t take as often, how to manage a constant flux of new ideas and even why a business plan, in the technology space, may hinder more than it helps. But as a member of the audience, I had to focus a little bit on what hit home. So I took his talk internally for the scathing criticism that it was on my work ethic and decided to take personal steps of my own to be part of the solution. Make sure you tune in next week with Navarrow Wright and be prepared to answer; How Will I Close the Divide?
The, Close the Divide Q&As Hangouts, hosted by Navarrow Wright are every Tuesday night, starting at 9:30pm.
You can also catch replays on his YouTube channel.
Image via: navarrowwright.com
About the Author: Darryl Cobb – I consider myself the Gordon Gecko of Tech, because tech never sleeps…I’m also a hip hop head, wanna be astronaut and believer in No Wack Demos! Follow me on Twitter.