Digital Divisiveness

It can be argued with significant merit and historical analysis that the migration and concentration of people of color, Black and Latinx specifically, has always been intentional, engineered … and self-serving. Propaganda, gaslighting, and lies about the traits of minorities is central to the concentration of wealth. It isn’t race specific but economics. Gaining wealth is, after all, central to everyone’s goals. But in a city like Chicago, a city founded by an African American, a center of the commerce of this country, a place where so many immigrants were attracted, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there is a reason that migration to this city occurred. It is arguable that broad based ethnic communities are here because of the city’s position as a business center. However, African Americans have alternately thrived and failed. African Americans who have yet to be fully incorporated into the fabric of this nation or this city, and have always been critical to its success, as have many immigrants. Some of the most important African American owned businesses, politicians, and artists started in Chicago. At this particularly unusual time, we are presented a unique opportunity to level the playing field.  We must take this chance to recognize our shared struggles and to move forward.

COVID 19 has shown that sheltering in place is a luxury afforded to those who can work or learn from home. The services afforded to most require that someone will have to get up and get out to do other jobs. During the industrial revolution schools were revamped to reflect the need for workers who would ultimately work in factories. The skills that were necessary for a manufacturing economy needed to be taught to those who relied on the agricultural economy. The look of schools changed, the schedules changed, the curriculum changed, the teaching methods changed. In a broad sense that has not happened since. While most schools were desegregated, we know that the majority of the students in our public schools are people of color. For whatever reason we have yet to adopt this process to reflect again the service and technology-based world that we now live in. To survive, this next generation will need these skills.

We have struggled with the “digital divide” for at least 2 decades. There are all kinds of definitions of that term, but most importantly it is the ability to access information and use it. Most often this lack of access has localized in African American or Latinx or poor communities. As the acceleration of change in our economy has been revealed, we have not kept up with what it means to create a pipeline of skilled workers that will be able to compete nationally and internationally. The focus has been and continues to be on how to keep a certain sector of our population under resourced which means that they become relegated to jobs that are not part of the new economy. Therefore, we continuously hear about the inability of today’s new businesses to find diverse talent.