“It’s been a long time…”
The gokit team has been hard at work getting ready for our pubic beta. We’re so close. During our maturation, the biggest opportunity to date by far has been our participation in the NewME Minority Accelerator Program. If you don’t know by now, NewME has catapulted our team and the other participants into pseudo-stardom as a result of CNN covering the Accelerator (and other subjects) for its upcoming “In America” Segment.
The folks over at CNN have certainly done an excellent job at raising “attention” for the segment, so much so that there have been many public responses to the segment before it has officially aired. Two of our very own team members have seen the segment, listened to the current
debate discussions, and have taken the time to pin their own perspectives.
Wayne Sutton - Co-Founder, NeME Accelerator & gokit founding member
Arrington is not Silicon Valley
“Still, I’m not saying I agree with Arrington and/or a lot of his comments about Silicon Valley but what I can say is that living in Silicon Valley for the summer it’s an entire different world. You can say there are not a lot of blacks in Silicon Valley or tech and be part right just like you can say that Atlanta is the black capital of USA and be part right based off of opinion, demographics and culture.
Sadly for Silicon Valley, Arrington is a loud, public figure and CNN knows that. I know that. But his comments and/statements do not represent all of Silicon Valley or Silicon Valley VCs;it also doesn’t mean he’s right. Just Arrington perspective. Media is media and always be careful what you say to media on camera and off. Some of my comments will be used not the way I like and it’s life. Lesson learned.
What I would like to see are the interviews from Mitch Kapor, Ron Conway, Jay Jameson and others who talked more about the need for the NewMe Accelerator..”
Excerpt from: One week until CNN Black In America 4, Silicon Valley – Everything changes after this or does it?
“One thing I want people to keep in mind before, during and after you see Black In America 4 is don’t focus on the negative or what has happen so much in the past but think about what you can do to make a positive change in your life and those around you.”
Hank Williams - Founder, KloudCo & gokit founding member
Excerpt from: Arrington, Race, and Silicon Valley Also posted on CNN Opinion
Arrington Says: Silicon Valley Is a meritocracy
“Mike said a few very clear things about his view of the state of diversity in Silicon Valley.
- its true that there are very few African-Americans in Silicon Valley
- despite this, Silicon Valley is a pure meritocracy
- you become successful because you have a “big brain”
First, let me say, I think Mike truly believes everything that he has said about the tech world being a meritocracy. Lots of people believe that.
But I do not believe Silicon valley is a meritocracy. I would more properly say that tech *markets* are a meritocracy. There are very few businesses where a single individual in her bedroom can create a piece of software that can potentially touch millions of people without any additional capital. No matter how talented you are, if you want to open a hot new restaurant or a shoe factory, you need lots of money before you start. Not necessarily so with software.
Consumers and businesses, for the most part, don’t care what the ethnicity of their software or Internet service vendors are. Users want solutions. And so if an entrepreneur can get a great product completed cheaply, in many cases they can compete on totally even footing. Even if they ultimately need capital, explosive initial success knocks down all known barriers.
But the market *makers* operate in a world that is not particularly even-handed. The market makers are the folks that help new young companies and entrepreneurs by providing insight, mentoring, capital, and relationships. And this part of the tech world is driven by all the same types of biases that exist in the non-tech world. And it is *much* harder for even the most talented African Americans in the tech world to gain access to influential, insightful, connected mentors, let alone investors.”
Excerpt from: Arrington’s not a racist (who’s said that anyway?)… he’s just being dishonest
“Either way, Mike was within his rights to decide what he would or would not cover, or how he would cover it, and at what depth. He does not owe any person of color or female entrepreneur or anyone else anything. But to, after the fact, say that he bent over backwards to cover African American entrepreneurs is laughable.
Does this make Mike a bad guy? No. I presume in actuality, he wasn’t even involved in the editorial process. So I won’t blame him for the uncharacteristic lack of depth of demo day coverage. But I sure as hell am not going to let him claim credit for somehow being some kind of bend-over-backwards-to-cover-African-American-entrepreneurs kind of guy. Let’s get real.
So to conclude, no one is accusing Arrington of being a racist. But it’s clear he is (or at least his writing reflects him to be) incredibly insensitive to issues of race and privilege. No one imagines him sitting around spewing racial epithets or purposefully discriminating, or even thinking bad racial thoughts, but that is not a very high bar.
Mike, it would be great if you’d put an end to this pity party and join us in real discussion as you suggest you would like to. Most of us engaged in this debate are pretty reasonable people and if you really do want to “do something” as you suggest, now is a great time to work on it with us. And yes I’ve heard you want to work with will.i.am on the issue, so you can bring him too.”
In Addition to the many (many) tweets on the subject, there have also been several blog posts on the subject from NewME participants and other influentials in the tech community
Race and Technology: Q&A with Startup Founder Hank Williams
Drama: Why Arrington is NOT a Racist and Don’t Believe the Hype
Is Technology the Whitest Field in America?
Dear Mr. President Barack Obama, see what had happen was… Explanation of my Black In America 4 comment about not putting money in my pocket
…and my favorite: Before You Blog About Trying to Occupy Techcrunch…
Regardless of all the conversations, hype, accusations, debate surrounding CNN’s latest “Black In America” segment focusing on the NewME Accelerator Program and technology start-up scene in general, make sure to watch the segment for yourself, then develop your own opinion.