A New Partnership: Connecting tech companies with activists and community organizers.
Being involved in The Last Black Man in San Francisco has given me a unique perspective on many social issues. Most significantly, it's given me a powerful new perspective on gentrification and tech.
While doing film screenings and Q&A’s at tech companies, I realized that there is a serious issue of exposure and awareness. People who want to help and can help don't frequent the same places as those who need help. We don't go to the same Jamba Juices, we don't go to the same grocery stores or the same movie theaters. For the most part, it's virtually segregated. The experience opened my eyes. Despite us all living in the same city or the same region, we do not co-exist. Many of us have grown up in environments where we're seen but seldom talked to.
There is a lot of passion behind the current movement for change. The passion comes from people saying "I'd like to help, how can I help?" The passion comes from me saying "I know that collectively, with collaborative effort, we can make a change."
That passion is fueled by getting involved. By seeking to understand what's going on. It’s fueled by the realization that we have the tools to create unprecedented change. We are living in the era of Tech. We are living in the era of Social Media. When these two things collide, we can make a change.
Being a Black man in the film space is a unique challenge. Despite being in a movie specifically about Black men, I didn’t see many Black people in the crowd at the premieres, the film screenings, or in the movie theaters. We are living in a time where even when you have a movie about
Black people, it may not be marketed to Black people.
My passion comes from wanting to see change. Locally, nationally, globally. My passion comes from my belief that there are more positive, optimistic people than there are negative, small-minded people. My passion comes from knowing that much more can be done than what is being done.
To those wanting to help, I would say, you have got to open your ears. You have got to open your ears and open your eyes more than you open your mouth.
When you start to support the efforts of activists, listen and take notes so that you can be part of the solution instead of perpetuating dogma. Unfortunately, I've had the experience of meeting people who think they know everything but really know next to nothing. Their only awareness comes from headlines or what they read in school years or even decades ago. The same way life progresses, so does the struggle. The struggle evolves. It grows. It's not what it was 10, 20, 30 years ago.
I would love to see tech companies get involved. When they say diversity & inclusion, I want to see genuine inclusion of males and females and non-white people. Intellectual inclusion not just physical. Inclusion does not just mean "hire this person because they’re this color, or this ethnicity, or this sexual orientation." Effective inclusion means "hire this person because they're worthy." Don’t attempt to hold them back because they may not fit the status quo.
When I was contacted for this Op-Ed, George Floyd was alive. Now he is not. This is a turning point in history. We are moving forward, progressively. We are going to change the narrative positively. Racism as we know it has taken a huge blow and we are going to do everything possible to make sure that it is eradicated.
There are those who don’t believe that it’s possible. But I’m one of those who believe it can be done and we have to utilize tech companies. Do I have all the answers? No. But I do have some of the solutions. That’s what I’m here for.
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