It took me while to come up with my next blog post simply because I needed time to process all that has been happening in the world lately. Especially over the past 1-2 months. What an interesting time we’re living in, right? But maybe it’s the same as it’s always been, and our level of awareness has been heightened. Ecclesiastes 1:9 reads, “What has been, will be again, what has been done, will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun”. It really doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not to understand the importance of that philosophy. When you think about natural disasters, civil unrest, and seemingly unfavorable leaders, these are all things that we have experienced and overcome before. Maybe it’s weird, but I find extreme comfort in that. I’ll explain.
I often look to my parents and older siblings for advice because they’ve lived longer than I have and have experienced and survived some things that I haven’t. I also provide this same guidance to my nieces and nephews as they are navigating through life. In the project management world, we’d call these experiences “lessons learned”. They are important factors that impact the project that we recognize from past projects and document them so they can be reviewed in future projects. The goal is to use these lessons to minimize project setbacks.
Well… my outlook on everything happening today,
inspires me to take a look back at some of the lessons generations before me have learned and apply my findings to current events. In my recent twitter dive on #BlackTechTwitter, I came across a tweet that made me go hmmm!? A post created by Faithful Black Men Association read, “ How are we going to utilize technology to give us a fighting chance in this?” It’s safe to assume “this” is referring to all of the noise that we’ve been hearing lately. The media sensationalizing killings of Americans by the hands of a few police officers, and the fact that a lot of us are out of work due to the pandemic we’re facing. This was such an interesting question because it made me think about all the ways Black Americans have contributed to the technology space and in what ways could we contribute now for the advancement of the culture.
A few of my friends asked me why I wasn’t out protesting and using my voice for change. Well… my response to them was that protesting is not my forte. I get the purpose 100% but I believe that there are enough people focusing on that. My position in advancing the culture is through education. I believe that education and entrepreneurship should the primary focus for progress. And utilizing technology is an essential piece of the pie that many of us can zero in on.
Below are 3 ways Black people have contributed and can continue to contribute to the tech space in a significant way giving us a chance to change the narrative of being Black in America.
Technology is not just about programming and computer hardware and software. I think when people hear terms like tech and technology, they automatically think it’s something to do with computers and coding. But its foundation lies in problem solving. Any way that you use processes and tools to create a solution to a common problem, is technology.
Creating a solution is exactly what Patricia Bath did. She was a Black American inventor who created a device for removing cataracts. She recognized a problem in the Black American community where studies show how blindness was 8 times more likely to be caused by glaucoma. Her device was patented in 1988 making her the first Black American woman to receive a patent for medical purposes. This was the first of Patricia’s five patents. It was great way to contribute to science while also serving her community. Sometimes the solutions to common problems are simple but we complicate them because they seem unattainable. While we are all striving to be experts in our respective fields, it would be beneficial to come up with innovative ways to uplift our communities.
I know i know, maybe something less complex than a device that removes cataracts, but something as significant that would impact and possibly save lives.
Create a Social Media Platform
By now we should all know the power of social media with Facebook owning the top 4 social applications including, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. I don’t know about you, but I use all 4 faithfully. Social media is a great way to connect with likeminded individuals. If you have a product, service or if you’re a thought leader, I’d recommend using social media to reach people around the world. One of my favorite YouTubers Patricia Bright created an amazing platform as a way to connect to a lot of her supporters who were looking for financial advice. She created a YouTube Channel called The Break Platform, where she shares tips and tricks from her experience in the banking and financial industry. She talks a lot about saving, investing, and creating lucrative side hustles. I mention her because I honestly believe that financial freedom is going to be the saving grace for Black America. And not just making money, but investing it and circulating it back into our communities.
On the other hand, if you’re not really a socially media person and would prefer to work behind the scenes, start with creating a social network. Especially if you’re into programming or if you have skills in leading I.T. development teams. Come up with ideas for apps that connects Black entrepreneurs in a specific niche. Or maybe an app that connects Black business owners to their target audience. Or better yet, a mobile friendly app that helps children and adults in under privileged communities gain access to counselling or mentor-ship programs. If creating an app is too advantageous, create a Facebook group or any web based group where you can gather ideas and become a resource for individuals seeking information in your chosen niche.
Basically, find a way to access the minds of the community you serve and cultivate change with positive reinforcement.
I’ve never been a gaming person but with the gaming industry being worth over 18 billion dollars, I can see the need for more involvement from the Black community on the development side. Do you know who Marc Hannah is? Aside from his significant contributions to 3-D graphic enhancements as a part of Silicon Graphics Inc., a company that Hannah co-founded, he also had a hand in the design of the Nintendo 64 gaming system. Super Mario and Donkey Kong were probably the only 2 that I actually enjoyed being forced by my cousins to play. Lol.
Playing games in my opinion is one of the easiest ways to get a feel of a new subject or skill. Whether it be tactical training, driving, spelling, typing, etc. If you have a skill or an idea that you think would be beneficial if presented to your community, think about creating a gaming system. Research presented by The University of Rochester concluded that playing video games in general increases the ability to learn. Pair that with an actual game that teaches essential life lessons and you’ve got a winner. Something like what Angel Rich has done with the Credit Stacker app… but in a video game.
I’ve mentioned Angel Rich in my previous blog post about Financial Freedom for Black America. Angel created an app that mimics the famous candy crush app. But instead of matching the same color of candies in a row for elimination and then replacement, Credit Stacker lets users swap credit types to pay off debt. It was named best financial literacy product in the US.
“The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.”
So, as you can see, there are a few ways that you can utilize technology to change the narrative. In my humble opinion, it would be more beneficial to pour our energy into the progression of the culture instead of resisting the current. We can do this through knowledge sharing, skills training and education. What we know from our past and present generations is that we are able to accomplish more when we are creating and learning. Our ancestors have fought a great fight and now it’s up to us to take the baton and continue to grow!