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November 18th, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Opinion: After 'Black in America,' silence from tech industry leaders

Editor's note: Hank Williams is a tech entrepreneur and CEO of Kloud.co, an Internet startup that provides centralized tools for searching and managing online information. Previously, Hank was CEO of ClickRadio, a pioneer in Internet music. He is featured in "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley," which re-airs at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.

By Hank Williams, Special to CNN

Last Sunday night, CNN aired "Black In America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley," the documentary that chronicled nine weeks I and seven other black entrepreneurs spent in the NewMe Accelerator in Silicon Valley. The aftermath has been, in some ways, exciting. I've been incredibly busy doing panels and interviews and the hashtag #BlackInAmerica was a globally trending topic on Twitter on Sunday evening. It felt like a lot of people were paying attention.

But not as many tech leaders as I hoped.

Initially, my sense was purely anecdotal, but I saw none of the major tech industry players participating in the conversation on Twitter.

So at my company, Kloud.co, we decided to do some quick analytics. Since Twitter is a great proxy for engagement on any issue, that’s where I turned for a relevant measurement. We pulled down all 150,000 tweets tagged #BlackInAmerica between 9 a.m. ET on the day the "Black in America" documentary debuted and 9 a.m. the next day. Then, we cross-referenced that list with industry mega-pundit Robert Scoble’s important tech people Twitter lists. These lists include press, venture capitalists and others.

If we are going to change course, the most valuable potential outcome of the documentary would be a willingness to more openly discuss the issue of race in technology. I was hoping that given the heavy discussion in the tech blogosphere leading up to the broadcast and the press coverage that the issue had finally broken into the mainstream.

Unfortunately, the results were just as I feared.

Across all of Scoble’s lists, there were only three participants in the discussion: Lekan Bashua, Rachel Sklar, and VentureBeat. The tech industry wasn’t watching, was totally unengaged or worse - uninterested.

The reason I anticipated the results is that I recognized that the same dynamics that the documentary discusses would likely dampen the discussion.

The audience I was most interested in was the Silicon Valley elite, including the crowd of actively twittering venture capitalists. There is, I am sure, a camp that believes - as does Michael Arrington - that the Valley is a pure meritocracy. Then there are those that might think otherwise but are afraid of what their partners or other associates might think. Even if you agree that there is a problem that needs fixing, one might reasonably be afraid to have the spotlight aimed at you for being hypocritical if none of your partners or portfolio company founders are black or Latino.

Case in point, venture capitalist Brad Feld wrote a great piece on the existence of racism in tech before the documentary aired, and Arrington attacked Brad with the sharp critique that none of the mentors in TechStars, Brad’s accelerator program, is black. It implied he had no right to express such thoughts. In fact, one of the few people of significant influence willing to speak out on this issue has been Robert Scoble. He said on Twitter that talking about race was a “high risk activity."

But this discussion is important to me, not because I am in the documentary, but because the lack of significant African-American presence in the tech economy is, I believe, critically important. In fact, if we don’t fix it, it’s going to accelerate an already dangerous level of wealth inequality in the country.

As I said in the documentary, not fixing this problem will ultimately lead to a permanent underclass. If you think Occupy Wall Street is a troubling sign of dissatisfaction around wealth distribution, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I fear the growing wealth disparity, particularly along racial and ethnic lines, will be catalyst for significant civil unrest.

Nevertheless, as one of the few voices to speak out on the subject, Scoble recorded a long and introspective audio monologue after watching the documentary. His piece is a fantastic jumping off point for discussion. He doesn’t suggest any quick solutions – in fact he suggests it’s a 50 year problem – but his thoughts are rich, deep and nuanced. What is more important was his willingness to go deep. He was not knee jerk or defensive.

I hoped more people of power and influence could find it within themselves to do the same thing.

But I was disappointed.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Hank Williams.

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. False

    I think any of the people commenting work in the tech industry. Its the most diverse area in any business because it takes talent over looks. I know most viewers to CNN don't believe in talent but only color.

    November 22, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      I like how Deborah M only talked about the contributions of black entertainers such as Jay-z and Beyonce. First off they are musicians, second their goal is to entertain, lastly there are people who admire the BUSINESS decisions they make. What does Lady Gaga contribute? There are plenty of white rock groups, or shall I say white entertainers who do the same thing. Music is entertainment, so with that, nobody is expecting them to contribute to the "human condition". Jay-Z has come along way since his younger days, but the problem is bigger than a "Jay-Z or Beyonce", they show that you can make it through perseverance and persistence. The problem the tech industry has, is that it believes the only good ideas come from sandle wearing white guys, with black frame glasses and man bags. Tech leaders follow looks and believe that a young white male on face value is more knowledgeable than their black counterparts. I attend Full Sail University, a school for Recording Engineering and all the instructors are white, lab techs are white, even all the receptionists are white. I know that there are black recording engineers, I have seen them. All the black students ask everyday, where are the black instructors? You see things like this all the time. Its about looks and comfortability, and generally a lot of white people still would rather have all their own in the room.

      November 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Just like the viewers of FOX network?

      November 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sarah

    I don't see a lot of black people in tech. Nor are there many women. But I don't think that starts in the workplace. Very few apply for those jobs because they're not actively encouraged to get an education in tech.

    November 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. S.

    This article rings very true to me. I work for a Tech company and there are approximately 25 black people in a company of over 2,000. I have submitted friend's resumes that have significant experince (1 had over 20 years at IBM for the position he applied for) and nothing; not even a call back. It's definitely an issue. Asians and whites are just seen as more capable in this industry – which is bogus. Your skin color should never trump your skill set; but unfortunately it happens all the time.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Thia

      How is anyone knowing the color of your skin based on your resume. Try again. Your friends didn't get interviews becuase they didn't have the background required.

      November 23, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
      • Shawn

        Thia seemed really defensive, i wonder why?????????

        November 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      I think you are so correct, definitely

      November 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Harry Katz

    It is my opinion that people in the tech industry simply don't have it on their agenda to care whether there is an appreciable amount of black employees there. Not that they are racist or prejudiced. To try to make them care is in impossible task. Did you really have any hope that there would have been any significant number of tech leaders listening? That, I think, shows how misguided and misdirected your efforts are. If you want to make a difference, that is, if you REALLY want to make a difference, reach out to black people who might be persuaded to consider a career in tech and they how can expect to be in the top of their class. Ask to speak at college campuses, make a case for it.

    I think this is just about as misguided a conversation as wondering why white people are in the minority on NBA teams.

    November 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thia

      Of course people in IT don't care what color your skin is. We just want to know what you can do, what apps have you built. Skin color doesn't even rank in the top 2 million. We care about what you can do. To blame it on race, because you can't find a job, is just failure on your part.

      November 23, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Allen

    How is black still a minority? We have black president, black gop runner, most of pro basketball and football player are black. Black people are really the only rap artists. It is really hard to to be that America is still have racism against black when you turn on the tv or hear the news of so many black people making more money than your average computer science worker or computer programing.

    Yes there is poor black people, but there is also poor white, asain latino, etc just as poor or poorer than the black. However the news always seem to single out the back that seem to need the special treatment.

    The only thing that is purely seem for black people is how some people like 50 cent, snoop dogg, something west, and other seem to promote gangster way of living and still making million of dollar and no one find this wrong???

    November 20, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Absynthe

      Excuse me, Allen – President Obama is of MIXED ethnicity, as are MANY of us in this country. Why do so many people try to pigeonhole us into the "black or white" debate, when perhaps we're not only both, but also OTHER, like American Indian?

      November 21, 2011 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
      • False

        We are Americans not any color. Once you understand that, then you will thrive.

        November 22, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • shemmarrJ

      hey wasgood allen. your write when you say those thing but if your looking for truth listen to this with an open mind then research what he says a little to see if it true.here is the link
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2mjvFNOwmc&w=640&h=390]

      November 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • False

      99% of the protestors are white and socialist that like to kill other races. Look at every socialist country's history.

      November 22, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jaxson Smith

      test

      November 26, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Deborah M, are people not allowed to listen to music? Music is entertainment, i think you are confused. You don't even have to listen to the the people you are bashing, its called choice. The problem is not Black entertainers, we are creative, and have contributed to society. Could you have brokered a deal to bring the Nets to Brooklyn, or run a major record label that employs many people both black and white? The problem is the perception of whites and there unwillingness to hire, tolerate and be around black men, and strong black women. Music inspired me to go to school and get an education, so that I too can be successful.

      November 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MonkeyZLuffy

    Typically because "diversity" means hiring people bad for the job to meet race quotas.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric Freeman (@darthouse)

      @MonkeyZLuffy – Only if you were the hiring manager would this be the case. Everyone else is clear neither diversity nor Affirmative Action equals a "race quota system."

      For federal contractors and subcontractors, affirmative action must be taken by covered employers to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans.

      1) QUALIFIED persons must be considered.
      2) Race is NOT the only delimiter – women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans are also defined as disadvantaged persons.

      I would invite you to exchange fiction for fact. Please visit http://definitions.uslegal.com/a/affirmative-action/ for clarity on this point.

      November 20, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Blessed Geek

    Investors love money and ROI more than racial ideologies or preferences.

    November 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sklwaz

      One Example (of many) August 2011 :
      PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Michael A. Nutter, telling marauding black youths “you have damaged your own race,” imposed a tougher curfew Monday in response to the latest “flash mob” — spontaneous groups of teens who attack people at random on the streets of the city’s tourist and fashionable shopping districts.

      “Take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer,” Mr. Nutter, the city’s third black mayor, said in an angry lecture aimed at black teens. “Pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.”

      “If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ‘cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said. “You have damaged your own race.”

      November 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Deborah M

        They didn't want to hear it but many Blacks say this all the time. At least the ones with some sense do.

        November 21, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • sklwaz

      Another Example (Of many) – Nov 17 2011
      Detroit Mayor Dave Bing calls for sacrifice to save city –
      Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's plan to rescue the city from financial collapse is largely based on the generosity of others: the State of Michigan, employee unions, retirees, contractors and the business community.

      In an address meant to show Bing's efforts to stave off insolvency, the mayor proposed, among other ideas, a 10% salary cut for police and fire personnel for a savings of $13 million; retiree medical and pension reforms projected to save another $8 million, and a less than 1% increase in the corporate tax.

      The mayor, who spoke Wednesday during a live televised broadcast, repeated his warning that the city will run out of money by April and faces a $45-million cash shortfall by the end of Ju

      November 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Deborah M

        Hopefully OWS will influence a shift in paradigm in terms of thinking. Since corporations and their rampant, unchecked greed are using the profits we give them by buying their products that are now smaller but costing more and then using those dollars in the political process against us, it stands to reason that the celebrities that are used as a marketing medium to sell these products are also going to be criticized. Shifting the paradigm of consumption means that watching celebrities who promote these products and exactly what do they contribute towards the betterment of the human condition are the questions many of us at OWS want to ask.
        So yes, some of us criticize the expensive things on Oprah's favorite things, the nonsense on every last reality show, the product placement in shows and movies and ask the question of what people went through to manufacture them. The idea that we empower corporations who mistreat us, empower politicians that undermine us is also applicable to the people you mention. I want to take away the influence of entertainers that add nothing to impressionable youth such as JayZ, Beyonce, Snoop, etc. They do nothing to uplift the kids that really watch them closely. Also, thanks to powerful corporate interests music itself has been severely undermined. Oh, pop music with no real depth is selling marvelously well, but go back to the 70's you had innovative sounds and no computers. I personally would love for computers to disappear for awhile in regards to music just for the pleasure of seeing kids pick up instruments again and come up with something new.

        November 21, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • sklwaz

      Yet another example – Nov 2011 – (This is what the US is becoming) :
      In Somalia, bomb blasts heard during militant meeting; Kenya denies it is responsible :
      In Somalia, bomb blasts heard during militant meeting; Kenya denies it is responsible

      Smaller Text Larger Text Text Size
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      By Associated Press, Published: November 14

      MOGADISHU, Somalia — A military spokesman says Kenya was not behind strong explosions heard in a Somali town that is on a target list published by Kenya’s military.

      Resident Habiba Nur said Monday he heard four explosions Sunday night in the town of Afgoi, 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of the capital, Mogadishu. Ali Sheik Muhudin, another resident, said the blasts appeared to be near a militant base.

      November 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • sklwaz

        And yet one more – Nov 2011
        South Africa Violence: Beyond Racism
        In the apartheid era, political violence in South Africa was invariably seen in black and white. But in the wave of anti-immigrant carnage that swept the country this month, all 42 of those killed were black. So were all of the tens of thousands who lost their homes. And all the mobs that beat, raped, robbed and burned them alive were also black. The hatred and violence that has shaken a country that optimistically proclaims itself a "Rainbow Nation" was not about racism; it was a symptom of globalization.

        Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1810805,00.html#ixzz1eHtg5zIi

        November 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amitkumar

      Mattyice2423 on November 6, 2011 Hey Jon I ctmemnoed on the article but I forgot to put my twitter so my name on there was mcmcorrea24 and my twitter is @mattyice2423

      February 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Eric Freeman (@darthouse)

    @Meggie0 – You earlier quipped,

    "What is there to discuss? With affirmative action minorities have more opportunities than whites, who are fast becoming the real minority because they breed fewer offspring. Go for it, blacks, the college spots are yours with lower grades and lower test scores. The catch is, you have to do the work yourself and earn your own degrees."

    Tsk-tsk. I'm reminded of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he admonished America to watch out for folks like you "with lips dripping with words of interposition and nullification."

    You interpose affirmative action with a quota system, thereby nullifying its probity.

    Check the language of the law. Affirmative Action was codified to force colleges and universities to recruit students OF EQUAL TALENT in places they wouldn't ordinarily look. So when Dartmouth College looked at my public high school, they found me – and affirmed the action of my application by admitting me. They saw EQUAL TALENT in this African-American male who took Dartmouth's freshman week placement exams and placed into Math 13 – a synthesis course which crammed the last part of Calculus II and the ENTIRETY of Calculus III into ONE 10 week period. (N.B., only 30 freshmen out of a class of 1050 were invited to take this course. And yes, I passed successfully!)

    So much for your wrongful interposition. Affirmative Action is NOT a quota system. I invite you to exchange fiction for fact – and consider interposing your own inflammatory stereotypes with the accuracy of truth.

    November 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil in Oregon

      I have to agree. The main agenda of the whole tech inequality discussion was "Gimme more money." As you pointed out, the equality of opportunity does not and will not guarantee the equality of success. The business world is a crap-shoot anymore, with even huge corporations coming and going every day. No one gets a guarantee of whether their job or their great innovation will exist tomorrow.

      November 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • shemmarrJ

      affirmative action as week speak is being chiped away piece by piece. i think your looking for facts here a link. listen with an open mind then research a little to say if he speeak the truth or not.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2mjvFNOwmc&w=640&h=390]

      November 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fineart

    Discussions like we are having here are so important. If we can continue this dialoge, thinking will open up, reasoning will come to the forefront and eventually we will all start to move foward. Our country needs everyone to contribute in a positive manner, to the well being of the whole. We are all standing at the presipist; do we just give up and jump off, or do we step back and say, 'I really want to live' and I want everyone else in my country to experience what real living is. Please keep the discussions going and pray for the United States of America.

    November 20, 2011 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Internet Dweller

    Williams says he tracked the hashtag on Twitter and was disappointed in the amount of conversation around the show. what he neglects to take into account is that CNN didn't air the show online, so the audience was very limited. many people in the tech industry don't use cable. If CNN were to steam the show online for those who are truly in the middle of the tech scene, the conversation would have much more substance and diversity.

    November 20, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Thia

      Excellent point.

      November 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Shawn

        Thia, you are obviously very adamant about black people, almost sound like you hate black people correct? You are apart of the problem, since you do work in IT, I think you reinforce what we have been talking about. No, I don't know your race, but on either side you would still be apart of the problem.

        November 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BLKNERD

    I guess CNN couldn't find Ejovi Nuwere: http://www.ejovi.net/

    November 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Thia

    Maybe no one showed up because no one cares. I work in IT. No one cares what color you are or if you have an arm growing off of the side of your head. It's all about your creativity and your ability to code – your ability to come up with an innovative solution. This is yet another example of pulling the race card because you are failing. Nice try, but it's not working.

    November 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • IMGRIPPIN

      TRUTH

      November 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • BLKNERD

      TRUE, I've worked in IT for 11 years, if you can code (get the job done!) that's all that really matters.

      November 19, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TheHBCUCareerCenter

    Hi Hank, Don't forget that the foundation is the first thing built and the rest of the building can take months and years beyond that. There are so many students who did not even know that there are Blacks in Silicon Valley or in the Research Triangle, for that matter. This is a way for us to help educate our aspiring and soon-to-be new professionals about what is out there. The CNN show will help to expand career and industry awareness and that, friend, is a great thing!

    Marcia Robinson

    November 19, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. CNNTom

    Perhaps there was silence because of the number of Africans with computer science degrees and their low grades? If CNN wanted to really focus on a minorities and silicon valley, they would focus on an even smaller minority - Asians. They are a much smaller minority, so clearly they must be disadvantaged. OH WAIT, they are too busy educating themselves and competing to ask for handouts.

    November 19, 2011 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Ndy

      @ CNNTom My point exactly. I feel the number one reason for the lack of black faces in the tech community is because most blacks don't go in to science, mathematics or technology. I would like to see the numbers on how many black students go into these fields vs other races. Instead of complaining how about focusing at the root of the problem. Going into the school and getting black students interested in these fields. Maybe then you will see a larger amount of black tech leaders.

      November 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • Eric Freeman

        @Ndy – You said you "feel the number one reason for the lack of black faces in the tech community is because most blacks don't go in to science, mathematics or technology." Check the numbers. White college students FLEE from majoring in computer science or technology in a GREATER population proportion ratio than do Black students. Were your feelings correct, the proportionality of white technology majors to white techies would be LESS THAN the proportion of Black technology majors to Black techies. CLEARLY this is not the case.

        You want numbers to corroborate my assertion?

        Holders of a Bachelor's Degree by Race: 67.0% (white) 13.8% (black)
        Holders of a Bachelor's Degree in Computer and Information Sciences: 60.5% (white) 18.7% (black)

        These metrics are published by the National Center for Education Statistics, data partners to the US Department of Education. You can find them here - http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ctes/tables/P46.asp

        November 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • shemmarrJ

      hey no one want a handout. look at this vid with an open mind.then research if what he says is true.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2mjvFNOwmc&w=640&h=390]

      November 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert Carter II

    @Pete: You are wrong as 3 left shoes stuck on the right foot. First, you forget that blacks did not create none of the professional sports leagues, they had to be accepted in. All the while playing the same sport before hand. The way you feel about basketball, is the way some blacks feel about hockey. But now since the myth about 'nothing but blacks in basketball' myth has been debunked time and time again by stellar performance caucasian athletes in all professional sports. Plus, how can success or any magnitude be a casue for concern ? You are only looking at one side of the story.

    @Dex: I have loved computers since I was 9 years old, and I was smart enough to bide my time and whine to my mom when technology got better, only to find that when technology got good enough for me to 'jump on the bandwagon',
    I was able to buy my own computer myself. But believe it or not, when a black person enters the field of IT/Technology, we are often looked at like we are looking for work, which is reciprocal of what every other demographic is viewed or stereotyped as. And factor in that most black families(or stereotypical in this case) cannot usually afford expensive electronic tech( asides from the obvious game console, but we are counting productive tech), such as an iPad or such until we get old enough to get our own jobs. Because lets face it, any stereotypical Caucasian family(only used because this is the other side of the 'racial coin') can afford such things, and 12 year olds get iPads,iPhones, and such other expensive tech. But, unfortunately, it usually is the case with the average 'black family' that cannot afford Harvard, or most high priced & very privileged schools who basically have 'AAA' jobs on their menu as a side dish. And let's face it, starting a business from scratch is something that is not an easy thing. Usually, you would have developed partnerships with other people who can make starting a business seem less of a chore, and any business owner would tell you that if someone offered to sponsor/fund you for a while you'd be a fool not to accept it. But that is also not a guarantee in life to have everything fall your way, even 50% of the time.And I think that both you and I know that saving money from a part-time McDonald's & Wendy's job could take a few years to accomplish...or more with the ever rising of tuition costs.

    @sonic10158: Very true, but that's not it. You see, even though we are allowed if you are still treated unfairly & indifferently to a degree which hinders any positive progress which would end up making us perform certain duties our own selves. And after thatwe know we can perform, it sucks worse when we refuse to deal with the same that pushed us to the curve and we still suffer, when those same people offer better opportunities to others that was once at a level of 'no hope'. Being treated unfairly/indifferently is more or less the same of not being allowed to be anywhere in the first place.

    @Steve: That's definitely not true. If what you say is true then that huge number of educated blacks you can compare to the number of blacks that are unemployed. If you really could get the real numbers of the black individual's graduate/future employment ratio, you'll be singing a VERY different tune. My sister has a Masters degree in English, and she's more than over qualified for her ESL(English as a second language) position, and she can barely pay her loans back. Lol...and she has a bit of trouble trying to find a job elsewhere that will accept her because of her degree. So is this a situation of laziness? Or not being treated properly ? Hmm...maybe appearance does have something to do with getting hired after all. But actually, it may be less than that that would actually become in places of 'power'. Simply because no matter what anyone does in their life, there is always going to be someone that will not say 'Yes' to you.And with the foolishness of ethnicity separation(The whole 'Majority/Minority' labeling schema), its basically like a 'Seesaw' difference here. However, I do know for a fact that there currently aren't no where as many black people in high places that there are white. Just a thought. So like a seesaw, if one side is 'Up', the other side is 'Down'.

    @Abijah:Yep, and so far its pretty convenient that everyone knows that blacks go to school and are educated, and yet account for over half of the unemployment rate. You figure that one out..I just got a job, delivering pizza with an Associate's degree & and bachelor's in Game Design. Am I complaining ? No way. Am I happy? No way. But I
    refuse to let my brain go to waste, so I am doing my 'other' work on my own time. So whenever I complete my goal, I won't have anyone to hold me back. So, You can't force them to care..true. You can only ask those that don't please stay out of the way.

    @Robert Scoble: Very true. But you can talk about race all you want at high risk/low reward, and lose nothing if you already have it all as well, Right ?

    @Wahoo69: With most professional sports money negotiations with mostly NFL & NBA(despite being notoriously coined 'black' sports), it seemed to already have more than reached the athletes. How long before playing professional sports/and physical fitness awareness become less of a payoff all the way around ? I think its time for the Professional sports admins to take a pay cut next seeing as they aren't sacrificing their bodies/lives for their particular sport.

    @JDG: Indeed, but showing blacks they are not welcome by leaving them to themselves until they show that they can be better than everyone else is also counter-productive in the end, because the black person is still by themself, they just know how to fend for themselves which changes things a bit. Remember, actions speak louder than words.And this country is still in the shallow end of the racial fallout of the 50s & early 60s.

    @Kehl: Tech leaders have noticed, but don't care. Blacks still must basically fend for themselves when it comes to being 'King of the Hill'. No so much with those 'Ivy Leaguers', and such who basically have their lives pre plotted which usually go as planned unless they are a complete and utter screw up.

    @Meggie: yes, there are tons of 'Financial Aid' available to blacks. But the NAACP still gets paid in the end by someone. And other loan offices must get their money.

    @Robert(First post): Because Caucasians/whites have obviously done more 'proper' business with asians than with blacks. Simply because Whites have always had blacks to do their dirty work from basically 'Day One', ...I think they were called 'Slaves' at one point of time...I think. And no, the system is not set-up against us. It's just not set-up 'FOR' us. The NAACP is set up "FOR" us. And yes, Asians are considered a minority because the do not fit under the whole 'Black/White label demographic' which is actually more or less 'whites(The Majority) & everyone else(The Minorites)'.But the surprisingly get treated better than Hispanics/Latino's as well who have already realized that if you want something done right, you must usually do it yourself. After years of oppression and racial indignities, blacks need to come out of the mold of 'stupid' as well, and everyone else need to stop putting them back in.

    @Don Charlton: It's always have been tough for us, and always will be. It's just that alot of us either don't realize it, and others don't accept it.

    You know fellow Americans...the tech world is silent on diversity, because it is as it stands right now. And it looks pretty close to what it did 50 years ago. However, that is stopping me but there is a reason why the tech world is a bit 'silent' on diversity..and it is not an opinion. It's a fact. Otherwise CNN would have spoken with Bill Gates/Donald Trump/or even the President himself. There is still something going on...a silent 'race war'.

    November 19, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Ndy

      I am a black female and I've experience the say time of situation as Dex. I was raised by a single mother and we both had to work to support the household. I spent a lot of time learning on my own about technology with the limited resources I had available. On the days I didn't worked I spent most of my time in a book and at the library teaching my self web design, programming and reading all I could about computers. I didn't get my first computer til I was 19 years old and yes I saved up for it. (Believe me desktop computer are much cheaper now then they was when I got one.) I made sacrifices to get this computer because it was important to me. I worked my butt off despite my financial hardship. Now at 27 I am a grad student getting my Master degree in HCI and working as web developer. Doing my long journey, I've see very few black people. My point here is that if you want it you will fight for it no matter how limited your resources are. Not having the money isn't an excuse. The lack of interest might be. Plus you don't need to own the latest and greatest technology available, I've never seen this as a requirement but you do have to have the passion and skill level.

      November 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • redjak

        Ndy Im a brother who agrees. How come the ones of us who believe in hard work never get a show.

        November 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Deborah M

        Glad you took the time to apply. Would like to suggest that when you type, learn to express yourself properly. You undermine the message with improper terminology. Just remember MLK / Malcolm X didn't go about shucking and jiving. They were quite clear about expressing themselves. Even though we learned our English from Indentured servants in the US and Caribbean it stands to reason that if you wish to be heard and understand clearly, speak the language so that you're never misunderstood. Glad to see you pushed yourself to come this far. Keep up the good work. Each one teach one, each one touch one.

        November 21, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Your reply is nonsensical and incoherent. No matter the length.

      November 20, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
      • Pam

        Or maybe you just couldn't comprehend it.

        November 20, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  16. Don Charlton

    As a black entrepreneur that graduated from a startup accelerator program and is now running a 14-person, angel and venture-backed startup that was covered on TechCrunch (The Resumator), I need to say I have been to a ton of tech events that were open to the public and I am always one of the few, if not the only black entrepreneur there. I don't feel our company is some anomaly. I just feel like I accepted the fact that things will be harder until one of us creates a well-known $100 million business.

    November 19, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  17. Meggie0

    What is there to discuss? With affirmative action minorities have more opportunities than whites, who are fast becoming the real minority because they breed fewer offspring. Go for it, blacks, the college spots are yours with lower grades and lower test scores. The catch is, you have to do the work yourself and earn your own degrees.

    November 19, 2011 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  18. john

    Is it inequality? Or just fewer people of one demographic in one aria than another?

    And by that logic. Will the world not be equal until the populations of all demographics are the same?

    November 18, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Kehl

    Hopefully, leaders in the tech industry did take notice. Maybe not via Twitter, but possibly in smaller forums or even only in their hearts. This may result in more hires, funded projects and/or good will. While immeasurable, significant and important.

    November 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  20. sonic10158

    It would only be a racial problem if African Americans were not even allowed in that field. But, if it just so happens that not many African Americans are pursuing it, then it is just a coincidence.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Dex

    I am black, and I will tell you 1st hand. None of my peers are interested in persuing a tech career. AT ALL. Im an objective C programmer, graphic designer. But they just arent interested. Thats why the numbers are so low. On the contrary, who cares!?! I dont. Color of skin is just what it is, color of skin. We overthink the simple things in life.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ndy

      I agree 100%. This is the same situation I've experience also

      November 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dave in Portland

        Exactly. I'm a tech professional myself, and I don't care if the person I'm working with is purple as long as they have the skills and don't hurt the team. I've worked with white folks (I'm white btw) who somehow got into IT and were dumber than stumps. The flip side of that is that I've worked with other folks (Black, Asian, Indian) who were some of the sharpest folks I've met. It's all about quality, not color.

        November 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Pete

    Why is there no concern for the racial inequality in professional sports, such as football and basketball, where there is a (what is opposite "lack of"...perhaps "excess") significant African-American presence, to use the reverse of the statement regarding “the lack of significant African-American presence in the tech economy”? While there may be underrepresentation in the tech fields, other fields are overrepresented, yet don’t become a focus of “concern”.

    I don't care either way, but I find it is an interesting dynamic how "inequality" is seemingly viewed from a single dimension.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  23. JDG

    Its not racial inequality if theres more white tech people than black. Theres not many blacks going to college for computer science. thats not an inequality gap.. it means blacks just arent studying in that field.

    November 18, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Steve

    So, the gripe is that only 1% of those who receive capital for tech start ups are African Americans...You know, I saw a stat recently that only 5% of graduates in the field of computer science are African Americans. Now, suppose we ask ourselves a question... are all of those who belong to that 5% going to rush out and attempt to find capital for a tech start-up? Probably unlikely. So, if only 5% of the graduates in the field are African Americans, wouldn't 1% be an acceptable number?

    November 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  25. wahoo69

    "If you think Occupy Wall Street is a troubling sign of dissatisfaction around wealth distribution, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I fear the growing wealth disparity, particularly along racial and ethnic lines, will be catalyst for significant civil unrest."

    I wonder if this "unrest" will apply to the uber-wealthy and ethnically comprised: professional athletes, actors, singers/songwriters, celebrities, judges, lawyers, medical professionals and entrepreneurs alike of America?

    November 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Duke Kim

    They say a crying baby will get its milk

    A Whining kid will be noted, addressed, and responded to for a while.

    If the Whining kid is not satisfied and keeps whining well...

    the whining kid will eventually be ignored because the people the whining kid whines to will get used to the whining and will no longer react to it.

    This is honestly, how I view the issue of race in America.

    People whine and whine and whine about it, going in circles over the issue. the only people willing to "make changes" are those that are a part of the group that is considered to be in the minority (political, economical, or societal). the vast majority of people in general stay silent either because they don't want change or are simply comfortable with what they have.

    Why force the people that are comfortable out of their comfort zone? Is it right that you, who is not satisfied with the ethnic distribution of people within the American tech industry would seek to force people out of their comfort zone? Honestly I think you are incredibly selfish.

    If you were to respond to my comment would it matter what the color of my skin is? What if I'm Caucasian American? What if I'm African American? What is I'm Asian American?

    I am fully aware my name gives my ethnic background away, but seriously.

    November 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Abijah

    You can't force them to care, you can only ask those that don't to please stay out of the way.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Robert Scoble

    The problem is that talking about race is a high-risk, low-reward kind of behavior. So, most people avoid doing it.

    I did it because I know the value of conversation to change the world. I'll keep working on this 50 year problem. Hopefully it helps my kids live in a better world than mine is.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |