It's pop quiz time, so let's not waste another moment and jump right in. Consider the following question: What form of assistance would you ask for to help improve the quality of your life?
Typically, the first response I predict is cash and maybe the next likely (depending on your status) is a new means of transportation - a car.
But what if I said those are desires that can be fulfilled quickly.
No, I am not trying to sell you something ... maybe! This isn't Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and where I am headed with these questions in the beginning of my first column will not land you square in the center of a sugar-coated fantasy land, just reality.
Yeah, the cliche` 'dreams can come true' (depending on how hard you work) means you can achieve material-based goals.
Influential community leaders and educators I have met with in my short lifetime have all staked their claim on some specific aspect of rebuilding their communities and giving back to their foundations.
I made my choice 3 years ago.
Technology is a pivotal element in today's society and too often I find that minorities, mostly African-Americans, shun this sector that helps build our unpredictable U.S. economy.
By turning away from a market that enhances the quality of our lives, we create compounded problems which our race has been plagued with for centuries.
Let's go for the analogy I can't resist.
Erika is a 22-year-old single mother attending school part-time. She has been searching for a job over the past few months after giving birth.
She's ready to re-enter the work force after a whole year off. Erika lives at home with her middle-aged parents who work full-time labor jobs. She has a computer, but it has been broken since she can remember. In addition, she has no fax machine; she searches the classified section for jobs and applies via mail.
Erika is in the middle of hard times.
Starting to see where this is headed?
If Erika had a computer, she could increase her chances of finding employment that matches her skills by searching online job sites. It would also make it possible for her to fax her resume' and compete with other job seekers, instead of soley depending upon our 2-3 day postal mailing system.
Seeing the root of this issue may not be that easy and rectifying this problem comes with multiple solutions.
Erika could have the computer fixed. She could purchase a new computer. She could visit a library (as inconvenient as that is). Or she could borrow someone's computer. Maybe even go to Kinko's regularly.
Most of those options require a significant amount of cash and/or generosity; it simply isn't enough.
I am challenging you to find a place where Erika could go for computer access where she is not limited by time constraints, lengthy restrictions, and limited options.
This scenario may resonate with you because you have been Erika, been in her shoes, or know someone who has been in the past, if not currently.
But money and hand-outs are not the only issues preventing Blacks from joining modern society in the growing tech age.
I can't emphasize enough how psychological perceptions are the most prominent factors.
There is a fear that the complexity associated with computers are beyond our comprehension.
There is a fear that our financial stability is in the hands of Internet pirates (hackers).
There is a fear that your children will succumb to the evils the news media over-saturated their markets with in attempt to grab your attention for ratings.
Where are my Black people who faced the fear and overcame the adversity that shackled us in it for too long?
Something is missing.
Pardon me while I pat my new partners at the Black Voice News on the back in my crusade to educate the technologically-challenged.
I have worked for several newspapers, mostly corporate-owned, and I have never quite worked with a newspaper that exemplifies community leadership as the Black Voice News.
I'm not being paid to say this, and no there is no Editor pointing a gun to my head as I type this ... at least that doesn't happen to me with this publication.
Talking about the issues and influencing people to alleviate an outstanding issue is one thing, but to get your hands dirty and dig into a problem yourself is admirable, which is why I am happy to lend my brain power to this newspaper.
After forming a small team whose task is to talk with the community and listen, we are actively pursuing this issue and hope to bridge the needs of minorities and the needy in the Inland Empire with our project: Bridging the Digital Divide In The I.E.
I encourage you to wake up and engage your minds into the world of Information Technology.
The root of these issues runs the gamut and each week there is something to explore that directly affects you.
I guess my last question is, how much do you care?
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