The following quoted piece is my comment that I left on this article that was posted over at Computer World. And while I agree with the premise, its also just as hard to ask the question in light of both sides that have to make the answer together. Your comments are totally appreciated and welcomed:
Speaking as a minority, and as a person who’s walking towards their own attempt to change this perception – my views are my own…
…there are a ton of barriers, and depending on one’s perspective, yes, tech innovation can seem to favor those who are rich or of a primary/majority racial or economically affluent background. However, that’s only part of the issue, the other side has to do with the perception of opportunity, and the ability to interface with people who are and aren’t in your racial/economic communities who have experienced success in bringing innovations to pass.
I have been very blessed. My parents went into all kinds of debt to make sure that my sister and I were exposed to as many types of people and innovations as they could. And while they could set the foundation, they could not create the end product. It has been up to me (and my sister) to make good on the lessons that people from every strata of USAmerican society has given us so that we could see and peruse the benefits of life – even the merits of tech innovation.
What we didn’t have, and what is harder to find in some areas of the racial/economic spectrum now is the teaching that happens after one has been granted some success. There are not a lot of people who are able to go back into the communities they came from (for whatever reason) and teach the wrongly held perceptions out. Speaking again personally, I do this with mentoring and through the magazine/consultatory that I started, but its not at all the norm. It’s more the norm to meet some area of influence and then parlay that into politics, rather than directly back into communities.
So yes, I can agree with this article in that there’s more to be done, and certainly more ownership of innovation and stewardship of innovation that needs to be done. But the problem is very basic to address and lies at the core of who we are as USAmericans – do we value what we create enough to share it with others, or are we more concerned with accomplishing a dream, only to lord those accomplishments over those who didn’t work as hard as we did.
Where we answer that says as much about the state of the next generations of tech leadership, as much as it says about the very fabrics of life in this country.