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Reflections of a Black Analyst in the Age of Obama

by Daryl Plummer  |  January 19, 2009  |  24 Comments

On the day that Martin’s birth is celebrated and the day before the swearing in of America’s first black president, I am facing the dichotomies of two complementary worlds. One world is the world of a black man working in an industry predominantly peopled by non-black professionals. The other is the world of any man living in a society where change has opened doors that many thought would remain closed forever.

And the doors open to allow change at the highest levels to emerge. The doors open so that people like me can face beautiful new vistas of opportunity – vistas revealing goals that can be achieved by anyone with the strength of will, or the faith of ideals, to reach for them.

Now, everyone can rejoice in the hopes of today and the dreams of the future. And yet, no one should forget the experiences of today and the memories of the past.

For though there are many subjective worlds, we all live in one real world. The real world is a place where opportunity must be matched by effort – and effort must be matched by desire. And in my world – the Information Technology (IT) world – the question must be asked if opportunity has given rise to true effort. For when I look around me, all I see is unfulfilled desire.

When I look around me I see black Americans rising only so far in IT. Many hold the ranks of secretary or technician, but few lead as CIOs or senior VPs. Think to yourself – how many black Americans can you name in senior management, as industry analysts, as CEOs, or as billionaires, who lead the way in the IT industry. You may be surprised at how few you come up with. Beyond Chuck Phillips at Oracle, the list goes shallow in short order. How can this be in the age of a black president?

In 2004 a study about blacks in IT highlighted the efforts to make the profession more open to minorities – yet, here we remain. In 2006, a report including quotes from the venerable Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) organization reiterated how much black Americans found IT a fascinating career choice – and yet, here we remain. Now, a January, 2009, computerworld blog addresses the issue of why there is HOPE for African Americans in IT. And yet, here .. we .. still .. remain. Blacks in IT only tend to rise so high before that glass ceiling taps them gently on the head.

And despite all the efforts of BDPA, despite the efforts of universities to cultivate more black computer industry graduates, despite my own efforts to educate, to provide an example, to encourage, and to cajole – here we remain. I remain one of only 7 black analysts I can name in the IT industry. For over 5 years, I was the only one. I remain one of the highest ranking black associates who can have an impact beyond their own company. I remain frustrated but hopeful that blacks in IT will become something more than just a continuing dream.

So forgive me, Mister Obama, while I cheer the greatness of your accomplishment and I mourn the mediocrity of my own.

I mourn for the black child that cannot even recognize the opportunities she might grow into because she has no exposure to this world.

I mourn the HR practices in IT that seldom follow through on seeking out black candidates for executive level positions.

I mourn the fact that when I look out from stage at an audience of over 5000 people, I can count the number of black “IT-faces” in a matter of seconds.

But I stay true to hope. I stay true to the ideals embodied in a quote by Ronald Reagan. He said, “…there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.” I could add – no matter what color they may be. But before Reagan and since, there are those who echo cries of hope. Lincoln referred to “a new birth of freedom”, challenging the country to elevate all men to equality. And now, Barack Obama says “Yes we Can!”

Yes. We can.

And we can because he can. We can because the youth of today now see with their own eyes that black and white people all have access to the American dream. We can because those same youth will see that the way to success is not only through sports greatness or entertainment fame. We can because now we have more help than ever before. Whether it is black or white, Chinese or Hispanic, Indian, Muslim, Jewish or all the colors, sexes and creeds of the world – people are banding together to hold the doors of opportunity open.

But what we can do should never eliminate the memory of what we strive to overcome. So hold the memory. Hold the memory close to your heart and just behind your eyes.

Hold the memory of my great grandmother who lived in a time when black people could be persecuted for wanting to rise up to a better life in Georgia.

Hold the memory of my grandmother who walked with her children 450 miles from Georgia to South Florida to begin a new life. She could go anywhere as long as it wasn’t labeled “no blacks allowed”.

Hold the memory of my mother who raised eyebrows when she decided that a single black mother of four could become a nurse by studying alone at night and working two jobs during the day.

Hold the memory of my brother who knocked down doors to become a treasurer and CFO for fortune 500 companies.

And hold my memory too. Because as I stand in a place where I have stood for over 20 years I see myself as a lightning rod of opportunity and seek to help those who would surpass my every achievement – imagined or real.

Thank you, Mister Obama. Thank you for the next step in the dream. Thank you for remembering what Martin said back in a time when few could see that you might ever become real. And thank you for “yes, we can”.

To the IT industry, I say that the opportunities are real and the desire must flow from those who wish to hire black IT professionals to those who wish to be hired. We will continue to educate, and to seek out people who can be prepped to become the next generation of greatness.

So, yes, we can. But, in the world of IT, I beg you in faith to remember that so far – we have not.

Category: 

Tags: it  jobs  obama  opportunity  race  trends  

Daryl C. Plummer
Managing VP & Gartner Fellow
18 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Daryl Plummer is vice president, chief of Research and chief Gartner Fellow. Mr. Plummer manages the Gartner Fellows Program, which is designed to allow senior analysts the opportunity to explore new research ideas and to elevate… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Reflections of a Black Analyst in the Age of Obama


  1. a timely reminder of how far we have come and how much farther we have to go…

    thanks,
    Miko

  2. Daryl Plummer says:

    From John Kost – a Gartner analyst
    Daryl: Very nicely written. With great respect, I would point out that unlike most of your research however, you eloquently dwell on the problem and provide very little attention to the solution or recommendations. Near the end you say:

    We will continue to educate, and to seek out people who can be prepped to become the next generation of greatness.

    But those seem not to have worked up to this point and it is unlikely President Obama will be able to directly do much to change that. So what would you do? Where does the system break down?

    How much of the population of color in this country never has a chance because the schools in which they languish allow few to advance with the necessary skills, aptitude or interest to pursue an IT career (I’m a native of Detroit and have taught at the University of Michigan and attempted to recruit into Michigan government when I was CIO).

    Will policies of the new President fix this? Based on the attitudes toward teachers unions of this Congress, I think not.

    Can urban charter or magnet schools be developed to foster interest in IT, math and the sciences among children of color? Of course they can, but they won’t be by a government that is hostile to any anomalies to the (failing) institutions of public education.

    So, what do you recommend? (I am not be contentious – I am genuinely interested in your point of view.)

  3. Daryl Plummer says:

    Response to John…
    John. This is a wonderful response. And, I agree that I did not delve into solutions. It was intentional. The hope is that I will get an overwhelming response, thus prompting me to deliver the next part of this, which is about solutions. It is no accident that you, a person familiar with government programs and educational initiatives would see where the solutions will find their birth. It is in education and changes to culture. So, what solutions exist and what solutions do not?

    1 – Education programs at the 7-12th grade levels must be extended to give kids an idea of what their options might be.

    2 – an expansion of government involvement in programs like BDPA where internships are plentiful but not targeted at specific enough positions in TI. I am an outside board member of BDPA so I have insights into what they do.

    These are but a few token gestures. There is a much deeper plan needed and as you mention, Obama can’t necessarily do this just because he was elected. He needs a groundswell of actions from those in the trenches. We should talk more on this because I have a number of ideas and would be happy to share yours with BDPA and anyone you would care to have listen. That’s so much, John.

  4. Daryl Plummer says:

    From Bruce Bond (with permission) – A Gartner Analyst
    Eloquently spoken, Daryl. I did not vote for Obama and I do worry about his ability to lead on the world stage. However, I admire him for what he has accomplished and for what I see so far as a pragmatic approach to his new role when he could have stayed very idealistic. Also, the fact that he won made me proud of this country. I wanted my candidate to win but not if the reason was because people weren’t ready for a black President. His election is a compelling data point supporting the notion that America is a place where things once thought impossible can be accomplished, and quickly. I was struck as I listened to MLK’s speech this morning about how much of his dream has become true. Not that there aren’t still people – black and white – who inappropriately factor in race in their decisions and actions. But I am certain that the world MLK dreamed about is more of a reality today than he imagined it would be only 40 years later.

    Sometime let’s discuss the issue of race in IT further. You and I have different paradigms on it born of our different experiences. My sense is that the low population of blacks is not primarily a result of people consciously choosing not to hire or promote blacks because of their race. Would love to hear your take on it.

    BB

    Bruce Bond

    GVP Industries Research

  5. Daryl Plummer says:

    Response to Bruce…
    Thanks so much for the response, Bruce. I would love to have the conversation as I expect we will both learn a great deal. I feel that much of MLK’s dream has indeed been realized. But the manner of its realization and the undercurrent of unfulfilled dreams is still a problem. I agree that the problem is not only because people are not choosing to hire. It is also because the pool of talent is smaller than it should be by now and the knowledge of the existence of some of these jobs and what it takes to excel in them is low. For example:

    – Many black kids see education as a “white man’s issue”, thus leading them away from gaining the necessary basics to compete in high tech jobs.

    – Many black kids never get the chance to understand what the options are and thus cannot target their studies at activities that would lead them into a path of top level IT management.

    – Many black families see sports and entertainment as a means to the successful life we all want.

    – Many talented and educated black people gravitate towards the roles of doctors, lawyers, and judges and do not equate IT at the same level of success. My own family often says “oh, you work on computers for a living”. They mean that with respect, but they think of it as a technician’s job, not a senior advisor’s role.

    So, I think there is much we can discuss. I see things that you may not see, and I see sins of omission being committed everywhere. In conversations with others in the industry outside Gartner, this is the norm – not the exception.

    So, lets chat when I come up in February. It is always worth it.

  6. Daryl Plummer says:

    From Dale Kutnick (with permission) – A Gartner Manager
    Daryl,

    I appreciate your heroic lyricism, spewing like a Coltrane riff. . .

    These truly wonderful, moving reflections brought tears to my eyes. . .must be from reliving experiences and holding those memories of which you so eloquently spoke.

    I feel honored and privileged to work with people like you. . .

    But enough self-reflection. You issued a call to action, and I’m volunteering. . .

    I look forward to working with you on this mission.

    Be well.

  7. Daryl Plummer says:

    Response to Dale…
    More to follow…

  8. Daryl Plummer says:

    From Matt Light (with permission) – A Gartner Analyst
    Hi Daryl –

    Thanks for these reflections, which I found very meaningful. Especially your grandmother’s trek. But please do not mourn the “mediocrity” of your own accomplishment; the effect of your example on both aspiring black analysts and on prejudicial mindsets of those hiring is already major and likely to balloon. Take heart today! As Jesse Jackson’s op-ed piece in yesterday’s Times urged, remember to celebrate along the way before continuing the work – and I feel you deserve to celebrate yourself and your own accomplishment, alongside Pres. Obama’s.

    So here’s to you, a leading light to IT analysts! And in particular ways, a light to those who would pursue IT and other knowledge work with hope and confidence that their race need not stop them!

    Maybe someday we’ll even see an African-American Legionnaire!-)

  9. Daryl Plummer says:

    Response to Matt…
    Thanks, Matt. This means a lot to me. Oh. And didn’t we have a black legionnaire at one point? Wasn’t he like a karate expert or something?

  10. Daryl Plummer says:

    From Brian Burke (with permission) – A Gartner analyst
    Great note – I hope you’ve published it beyond the distribution list. It deserves a broader audience.

    I can’t say that I’ve given much thought to colour as an adjective for IT professionals. I don’t think of black programmers, brown analysts or yellow CIOs.

    Perhaps that’s because I’ve never been affected by it – thanks for enlightening me.

    I am a big supporter of Obama. I only hope that he doesn’t become a victim of the impossible expectations that people have for him.

    Honestly, the fact that today Obama becomes the first black president is less important to me than the fact we are finally getting rid of Bush!

    However for black people I’m sure he is a great inspiration, as are you!

    Thanks,

    Brian

  11. Thomas Otter says:

    moving words. Well said Daryl.

  12. Hey Daryl. Really nice piece.

    I have long pondered the white bread nature of the analyst business specifically and the IT business generally. When I go to an analyst conference in the US I know I will never see more than one black face on our side, maybe two or three in the executive ranks of vendor we’re talking to. Then we go to breakfast, lunch or dinner, and sure enough there are generally black and hispanic people – serving our food 🙁

    As said on twitter yesterday though, Obama is the most powerful parenting tool ever, for black and mixed race families (like mine). We can’t expect change overnight – he just enabled change.us and change.you

    There is one concrete action I believe you could take- and concrete actions always make us feel better in the face of things we might otherwise be afraid we can’t change- which would be to do some work with North Carolina Central University. I was frankly blown away by the progress they have made offering mainframe skills to a 90%+ black student population and earning placements at organisations like Bank Of America. Seeing a panel discussion at an IBM event where the white panelists were outnumbered was really nice; particularly when one was a woman, a mature student, who had just been offered a job as a sysprog at BoA. Why not reach out to Cameron Seay from the university and look at offering some sessions explaining to students what the analyst business is, and why its worth considering as part of a career path. If you need any help from me, just ask. I am pretty sure IBM would support you in any endeavours in this regard, and I assume Gartner would too. But of course given you live in Hotlanta there must be local academic programs you can tap into.

    As I have said before, I won’t forget your kindness early in my analyst career to take the time to chat to me about the business. You have been an inspiration to me, and that’s about the best you can do – be an inspirational black man that takes the time for people.

  13. […] Plummer didn’t become Chief Gartner Fellow by accident.  His most recent post is a ‘must read’.   It is personal and it is brave.   It would be so much easier […]

  14. Juliane Jung says:

    Daryl –

    I thank you for your piece, I appreciate it hugely. There are two thoughts I want to share with you:

    Please know that I have always thought that it was the job of those in the oppressor role to take on the struggles of those who are at the receiving end of oppression. It is not normally how it works, but it is how it should work. I wish I or some other white person had ruminated on many of the things you mentioned without needing a prompting from you. I thank you for shining a light on this and opening our eyes. I promise my eye lids will continue to open up to this issue.

    The other thought I want to share what is a probably somewhat liberally remembered quote from the black american writer June Jordan who wrote in one of her poems: “when you look at me I want you to never forget that I am black. And then when you look at me I want you to forget that I black”. I have always thought that as a white person that is a good policy to adopt: let’s be vigilant and not pretend racism does not exists, let’s also not deny that the fact of the fact that someone is black has shaped them, their life, is in fact part of the essence of their self. Then let’s allow the person to just be themselves.

    This applies to all groups of humanity, yet let’s be very clear that some have more access, privilege etc than others. Let us (continue to) take on giving access and sharing privilege. We are all better off for it. Let’s do more of this. Faster, stronger, SOONER! NOW!

  15. Bill Rosser says:

    Daryl: very well expressed and very appropriate. Yes, we should all be impatient – that we have not made much progress. Yet efforts are possible to address this. I am part of a volunteer effort launched by my college classmates that includes my going to Paul Robeson High School in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn to encourage the students to aspire to go to college and become what they can become. I have given a number of classroom sessions on the prospects for them in the field of information technology, plus I go and help individual students select and prepare for application to colleges that might best fit their interests and needs. The results have been good and rewarding. But it does take time to awaken their hopes and get them going in the not obvious direction. We can only continue and it is fabulous that now we have the image of Obama to build on. We are making some progress – thank God. Bill

  16. Bill Rosser says:

    To further support the palpable excitement of the times, I include my impressions from attending the inaguration.

    Obama’s Inauguration – Washington, DC – Impressions

    The strongest single impression I got was the excitement and joy of the people headed to the Mall. Within two blocks of the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial there were many, many greeters – with great enthusiasm saying ‘welcome to the Mall – good morning – it’s gonna be a great day – glad you’re here’. These were volunteers and their spirit was catching – they were into it – giving high-fives right and left (with me too) – with very evident sincerity. I have never seen such buoyant feelings in a group – and this was for everybody, everybody. It wasn’t like winning sports fans – where somebody won (even though in a way it was) – this was inclusive for just everyone to thrill to the dramatic celebration. Passing this point everyone had a bouncier step and a lighter heart – cold or not. This was really special.

    Another fun part was the spontaneous cheering from the crowd I was in the middle of, as different people were being seated on the Capital platform. Large crowds gathered in front of the jumbotrons – standing together for hours – but reacting to what they saw on the giant screens. The first real burst of energy and cheering was for Jimmy Carter, to my surprise. But the reaction to him was easily surpassed by that for Bill and Hillary Clinton, and then overwhelmed by the reaction to Barack and Michelle. Nevertheless Jimmy Carter was third in my estimation. Ted Kennedy got a burst of cheers too – and Al Gore some, but less than I would have expected. He appeared to be somewhat stiff and ill at ease – in contrast to nearly everyone else.

    Chainey in his wheelchair got essentially no reaction and George W. did inspire an isolated cheer or two – along with a very broad but muffled chorus of boos – the only boos of the day from my group watching two jumbotrons just North of the World War II Memorial which sits South of the Washington Monument – away from the capital – which could be seen in the distance – and the Lincoln Memorial behind us.

    Other details of the day

    The surface transportation was smooth and efficient. Through local friends we decided to take the regular bus route to Foggy Bottom not far from the southern end of the Mall. We disembarked where traffic was prohibited and walked about 8 or10 blocks – hundreds of us – with vendors of memorabilia along the way not getting much action. The streets were empty of traffic – yet there were many camouflage-dressed personnel keeping the hoards on the sidewalk – don’t know why. As we arrived by the Lincoln Memorial most tried to reconcile their newspaper cutout maps with the location of the jumbotrons – not easy at first – “where are they? They are supposed to be right over there” was very common. But no problem – just beyond the reflecting pool on the far side was the big screen in the sky – just short of the Korean War Memorial with its ghostly array of soldiers walking along a field – same motion but what a difference.

    My friends decamped – eager to get a good spot on the ground but I had to press ahead – first to see and then join some real masses of people (as a New Yorker I would not feel comfortable without serious crowds) at the World War II Memorial where three jumbotrons were set up. A few people were able to get seats on top of various elements of the monument but most just stood – with some using portable chairs (as I did with a minimal collapsing stool)) until things began happening. But the crowds were certainly not overwhelming. The broad expanse just North of the WWII Memorial and South of the Washington Monument had strollers but remained open throughout the event.

    The sound systems were great sets of speakers all along – hung from steel scaffolds for the event. You could hear what was happening wherever you were on the huge Mall. At about 10:30 the Marine Band stated playing and the energy rose. But by the arrival of Barack, people were standing very close together and all seemed to be in the best of moods. Not a nasty word or push in the whole crowd.

    As for the acceptance speech itself, I could not parse every phrase. Some elements hit home – like the reference to those small to large – that everyone was included in the new quest. I was distracted by the bad time synchronization between the jumbotron picture and the sound (on the order of a 1.5 second gap – which is huge), and the sub-titles on the screen. Periodically the jumbotron speakers and the nearby general speakers got out of synch as well – so for brief periods one would hear two speeches. I knew I would have time later to really listen and read the speech – which of course was very well received by the crowds.

    At some point I saw the big helicopter passing over the Mall and later realized that was W. who exited promptly after the swearing in – heading to Andrews AFB and on home.

    After the very humorous benediction, nearly everyone headed home – passing the thousands of port-a-potties along the way. Walked back up 23rd Street – this time the vendors had a hard time collecting the cash fast enough – it was just pouring in. Programs had been sold out and only odd-size and not-so-great design t-shirts remained – and they were going fast. Small flags about 18” long were being sold for a dollar each and people were buying clutches of them.

    We passed by the Metro station (to be avoided) – manned by people outside with bull-horns – and headed to the still very effective buses for the leg home to our friends house. Spirits remained high and everyone seemed to be saying how delighted they were to have been able to be there in person.

    Fortunately the Metro the next morning was very comfortable on the way to Union Station. Just inside the Union Station at about 8 AM the Obama commemorative store was doing a land office business – with people lined up at the cash registers with their clutches of sweatshirts, hats, jewel-spangled t-shirts – but still very patient and full of happiness. This even extended two doors down at a news stand where the line circled the entire store – people anxiously buying a copy of the Washington Post or New York Times or both. As the pile of papers diminished, workers had to get more out of the back and people who had not gotten their copy yet were yelling ‘Post, Post’ and were anxious they might miss the historic record. Copies were passed among the crowds to those people and at least at that hour – everyone got their own personal memento to think about and treasure for a long time to come.

    Bill Rosser

  17. Andy Tzou says:

    Daryl,

    Thank you for your post. Among your thoughts, this one in particular stood out:

    “I mourn for the black child that cannot even recognize the opportunities she might grow into because she has no exposure to this world.”

    While complex social problems never have easy answers, I believe what you cite above is truly a core problem. Through my own experiences, I wanted to draw an analogy to buttress your point.

    For lack of a more commonplace term, I’m going to name this observation the “legitimacy” effect. As a young Asian-American youth, for more reasons than one, I could not see myself “legitimately” engaging in pursuits like the arts, sports excellence, or creative writing (to name a few). It wasn’t that these pursuits were inherently difficult to become involved in, or to excel in — indeed, math and computing are perceived by many to be far more esoteric. I could not legitimately see many other young Asians pursing or excelling at these subjects. My parents, a particularly important influence, knew nothing of American football or artistic pursuits like screenwriting, improvisational acting, prose, music: all activities I had at least some interest in. Without so much as a role model, a realistic and -legitimate- push toward these endeavors, an adolescent is simply unlikely to move in this direction.

    Conversely, the other side of the coin furthers what I’m trying to say: my father was chair of an engineering department at the state university in my town. Higher education, particularly toward the sciences, was not an aspiration: it was a matter of fact. Ironically, I gave such a high bar so little thought: an undergraduate education in engineering, joining a national laboratory afterward, then graduate school at a premier institution: all somehow spoon-fed and knee-jerk in my family. There was a legitimate reason to believe I could succeed in this space: evidenced by my peers around me, what I saw on television, my family…legitimacy in this way is a source of encouragement and confidence that is so key in determining an adolescent’s choices.

    So a helpful question to ask may then be twofold. 1. What are your children “legitimately” being exposed to by way of their peers of similar racial, cultural, socioeconomic, or regional backgrounds? Endeavors that adolescents see as being within their legitimate reach are more likely to be pursued. And 2. What are we spoon-feeding adolescent children? African-Americans pursuing the arts and Asian-Americans pursuing math and engineering need to increasingly be regarded as true stereotypes. Strong, visible role-models that run counter to these stereotypes is an excellent start. What can we do next?

    Andy
    (not a Gartner analyst – just a Gartner fanboy looking forward to this year’s BPM Summit in San Diego!)

  18. Susan Moore says:

    A few years ago I went to a Microsoft conference in LA attended by more than 6000 IT professionals, and as a non-American visitor, I was totally shocked how few black faces were amongst them. I was also amazed at how empty the women’s bathrooms were, while there was always a queue for the men’s. We have a lot to do do achieve real diversity in IT and and many other industries. Open discussion and ideas like those on your blog can only help.

  19. I understand the points made by this article; however I have to disagree with the premise.

    I have been in the IT field for 10 years, and through my savior Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, family and friends I have accomplished much.

    Despite the lack of high level black IT executives, my attitude is yes I will become one, during my experiences in life I have come to the realization that the what you wish to accomplish is based upon you and your drive to succeed; at this point in my life I refuse to let white people or any other barriers hold me back from achieving my goal as a C-level IT executive.

    I was hired for an IT job at a fortune 500 company at a homeless shelter, and I also purchased my first home from one. I was the first in my family to work in corporate America as well. In my opinion if I kept up the idea, that in my field, people are not advancing, I would not have been able to achieve my goals because, being black in IT is already a strike, but being homeless and black, well according to your logic I would have been done for.

    At any rate, I do not believe that we can cross apply the accomplishments of one man to every aspect of being black in this country. I like to think of Obama’s victory as the crescendo of a symphony created by our ancestors who arrived in this country, because in the political field, Black’s have achieved a lot more than people in the short history of the field of IT.

    In conclusion, I believe our attitudes should be “Yes We Will”. We are too talented, and to intellectual to be left on the back of the bus of IT.

    God Bless.

  20. Daryl Plummer says:

    to Mr. Dale J. Thomas.
    Thank you for your comments on my piece and I am honered to hear of your successes. However, I believe you misrepresent the point and the intent of my piece. My logic in no way suggests that black people cannot achieve without the blessing of others. I and many others (including members of my family) have shown that to be untrue., Instead, what I detailed was anexpose of hope and opportunity that should not be lost amid the clamor of a great achievement like Mr. Obama’s election. there are tendencies that people might have to say, “ok, now we have a black president, so the problems are behind us”. And, if that were to happen, it does not matter whether they be black white or new-mown-grass green, progress would begin to slip. Certainly, people must act to help themselves grow. And certainly, opportunity must be afforded them. However, if we suggest that because some black people have made it happen that means that there is no issue to deal with – we would be wrong. To quote a friend of mine recently, if you can count them, there ain’t enough of them.

  21. Michael L. Crawley says:

    Hi All,
    This submission is contributed with Daryl’s as well as the all threads (from his blog site) submissions in mind.
    As one has expressed in the threaded discussion, although short of perfection ( I supposed only GOD is capable of such perfection in any instant), Daryl’s piece does address several fundamental problems that exists in our society, one of which is that of inequality and in this instant, inequality towards African Americans in, especially those aspiring towards “higher places”, within the Information Technology (IT) space.
    As a product of the inner-city who, during the defining stages of the IT revolution, was inspired to become one of many graduates from a Howard University Computer-Based Information Systems focused program, we can confess that the African American Community has been producing exceptional IT professionals for well over 20-years to date. Thus, although there are many initiatives that could and should be contemplated in order to better motivate as well as to better prepare members of our community for this critical and continually emerging aspect of societal development (IT), the limited presence of blacks in “high”, powerful and economically affluent IT places is NOT for lack of trained and capable Black professionals in the IT community.
    As-a-matter-of-fact, if one were to engage in proper research (and this is only one phase of one aspect of many studies that should be nurtured -the research has begun and any/all others who may be interested in developing the pursuit further are welcomed to contribute-) we may find that when there was an apparent shortage of IT professionals to handle the “overwhelming demand” driven by the rapidly expanding IT industry (during the 1990’s – http://lmi.ides.state.il.us/lmr/articl28.htm ), this would have be one of the ideal moments to focus on leveraging and developing domestic resources, such as the African American IT Human Resource Base (which was and continues to be much more abundant than anyone admits or imagines at the moment). However, as we may recall, instead of such a domestic policy focus, the emphasis was being placed on passing and expanding legislation relating to H-1 Vista related workforce development (http://www.workpermit.com/news/2006_11_20/us/it_engineers_students_needed.htm, http://anti-union.blogspot.com/2008/02/offshoring-and-h1b-visa-abuse-1-2-punch.html , http://www.myvisajobs.com/H1B-Visa-Occupation-Browse.aspx ).
    Not that anything is wrong with globalization, after all, it is “the way of the world”; nevertheless, when an overemphasis is placed on developing “off shore” human resources at the grave expense of under-developing domestic human resources, the net effect (as is repeatedly the case throughout the history of our great country for all) is that domestic IT and other Human resources, and especially the African American IT Human Resource population group, gets devastated; the outcomes are many-fold and impacts a multitude of professional and social-economic categories. These types of policies (much like: the 40-acres-and-a-mule final decision, immigration policies, prison industrial complex policies, deploying a war-on-terror at a time when “the discussion for reparations is hot” policies, and many, many other detrimental policies and decisions that have been continually implemented throughout the history of our United States… ) and their adverse impact on the African American population group which, for over 400 years, has toiled and gone through repeated trials while providing the free-and-servitude labor which has laid the foundation upon which the wealth of this country was built. These targeted policies almost seem to be an on-going series of calculated initiatives designed and deployed to keep the African American population group underdeveloped and improvised.
    There are so many factors and many more issues related to the matter that this submission alone could be developed into a PhD dissertation. To bring this back “on point”, there are more than enough competent and qualified African American IT Professionals available TODAY, such that more Blacks could easily fill the board rooms, universities, research centers and have many to spare in order to develop business initiatives which would contribute to a better, stronger, smarter, more technologically, and globally competitive/advanced US of A. We simply need to (BDPA and member can play a major role):
    1) Develop and implement policies and initiatives to “open doors” that we, “readied and prepared”, IT Professionals could certainly enter and master TODAY!
    2) Lay the infrastructure: teach the importance of science and technology; build and fund schools, training programs, other initiatives to introduce and nurture members of our communities (especially the youth) in science, technology, research and related areas of engagement.
    3) Development, deploy and support any/all other initiatives that will aid in developing our mastery of science, technology and all other disciplines that the creator inspires us and our children to pursue.
    4) Recall, we were not allowed in the military, baseball, basketball, football, singing, acting, other forms of entertainment as well as an endless list of other restricted areas of pursuit…, NOT because we were/are not qualified, nor readied, nor prepared, but because of FEAR. When we get to “the heart of the matter”, herein lays the real problem, FEAR of the power and the anointing of the African American Community. I supposed it is NOW somewhat acceptable to be allowed to excel and prosper in some areas entertainment (when we are performing), yet there is still FRIGHT when it comes to the possibility of Blacks excelling and prospering in areas of intelligentsia (even in the areas of the somewhat accessible space of entertainment).
    What Barack and Michelle have actually done/and are continuing to do is to demonstrate that there is nothing to be afraid of, yet WE R WHO and WHAT WE ARE! So yes, let’s “get some doors flung open”, we have a nation to rebuild and a global economy in which to compete as well as to help define. Despite the FEARS, America and the World needs our Black IT as well as other creative and intellectual talents to help define and chart the course of The New World Order.
    Michael L. Crawley

  22. This blog was forwarded to me from my brother. He and I are two black men who were blessed with a public school education in the suburbs of New Jersey. Both of us went to college and now work for Fortune 500 companies. My youngest brother has struggled with his high school education & lack of career goals. Three different children with three different results. Despite all of us seeing our parents lead great lives in Middle Class\Corporate America, not all of us followed the same path. Point: You can plant seeds in the best soil and nourishment. But that does NOT guarantee all will grow to their full potential.

    Though I see progress in America in regards to racial and social-economic issues. There is still so much more to be accomplished for our nation. Yes – having Obama in the White House is a great win for minorities in general. However we cannot expect the struggle has now stopped. Lastly we cannot think that every minority will find inspiration in doing better. What do I mean by better? Living to their full potential and not settling for 3rd world life styles – while living in a 1st world country.

    In life you have (2) things going for you; Opportunity and Motivation. We cannot control Opportunity. But we can sure as hell control our Motivation. We cannot blame racism for all the issues involving minorities in this country. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is in the mirror.
    -Regards
    Derris Boomer

  23. Dayan Emes says:

    I find it entirely unsurprising that despite both political parties, despite departments of human services, community organizations, conventional foundations, and all the other ‘experts’- substantive african-american participation in technology leadership roles has not gotten very far.

    When the definition of youth development programming at the community level is little more than ‘brat off the street redirection’, when schools in large urban centers like Chicago inequitably distribute access to college preparatory resources in schools, and when parents and children themselves do not value education- what do you expect?

    Of course, we could also turn our sights on the funders like the almighty MacArthur Foundation, who purport interest in improving communities but only fund universities at a level remotely respectable while leaving genuine community-based loci of service with the table scraps. State level departments of human services rarely create RFPs for programs focused on the development of intellect, and the Feds are just as bad. It doesn’t matter which political party we are talking about.

    Another factor is the death of community organizing as a discipline and resource for empowerment due to its lack of funding. An organizer is a generalist who can help people as both individuals and as groups work to achieve larger ends from an interdisciplinary perspective. Most common organizing is targeted at ‘selling’ some programmatic ‘soap’ to yet another bunch of ‘consumers’, rather than genuinely facilitating their empowerment and helping them create their own processes and structures.

    In summary:

    1. Private and public funders need to be reeducated to adequately fund progams of intellectual substance at the community level. All this psychosocial excremental effluent is leading nowhere.

    2. Community organizing as a means of facilitating a process of individual and group empowerment must be properly funded and enacted in needy communities.

    3. Community-based organizations should be a locus of programs of intellectual substance particularly in large urban environments where conventional structures such as schools and social service conglomerates have failed miserably. Charter schools that are developed and operated as an indigenous effort rather than by outsider fronts are also an important avenue.



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