This article is from 2011 and was originally published in Rolling Out magazine. I thought it was worth posting here as well.
Social Media & IT Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Cultural Pundit and Global Citizen, Dadisi J. Olutosin, slowed his roll long enough for us to grab an espresso and ponder diversity in the IT industry. It was an eye-opening conversation that required a second espresso.
There is actually a lot of diversity in the IT economy. Look at it from the perspective of people who innovate, create, and distribute technology versus people who use them. If you look at it in the context of technology, people of color are definitely consumers of technology. But, by and large, we are not creators of technology.
Let’s look at Dr. Dre with this Beats Technology. I refer to him as the new Ray Dolby, creator of the DSS Dolby Sound System and in every country on earth he is getting paid perpetually. Dr. Dre just closed a $300 million dollar deal with Beats Audio. He, too, will be perpetually paid.
African Americans have to get out of this mindset that we have to be consumers. Trading up cell phones at every contract renewal or buying the new most popular app is straight consumerism and does nothing to promote diversity in the industry. Recently two young ladies from Spelman College won an AT&T competition for creating an app. Few knew, though, because there was very little media coverage or recognition in the Black community. I’m a Morehouse man, so I emphatically state this: why did this not spawn a consortium with Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark-Atlanta University where students create apps? A technology lab, of sorts. Here we were innovating and creating and no one bothered to move the ball down the field.
I can’t really say that the study of math and science not being priority in the Black community is the reason, either. Business ownership takes business skills. Accounting, finance, marketing and more. IT creators tend to not have those skills. They are similar to artists who use acrylics, chalk or photography, but their art is writing code. Once they create a code that does something unique, it’s time for recognition and feedback; their version of a gallery showing. What they need are business-people to help them take the code-created product to the next level because they don’t have the background, charisma, or know how to launch and sustain a product. (cont … Rolling Out)