Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Thoughts on “Black in America: The New Promised Land-Silicon Valley”

There has been a lot of media attention thrown at Silicon Valley and a lack of diversity stemming from the CNN special “Black in America: The New Promised Land-Silicon Valley” that recently aired. Overall, I loved the program and wish it was longer than one hour with more depth. However, at the end I did have a concern.

My concern is that the program started the conversation about diversity in Silicon Valley (leading to conversations about diversity in IT overall) but I’m fearful that is all it will be. A short conversation. In order for things to improve, the conversation has to eventually lead to ideas, which lead to possible solutions. Six months down the road are we still going to be having this conversation? What about a year from now? Nothing get's accomplished if people talk without providing ideas.

I believe that if you are going to point out a problem, you need to be able to provide some possible resolutions and/or recommendations based upon the facts provided. Unfortunately, all I'm reading about in blogs and on Twitter is that there is a problem (racism, sexism and ageism has been a problem in IT for a long time not just limited to Silicon Valley). I'm not hearing any ideas on how to fix the problem.

That being said, I think the focus shouldn’t solely be on getting noticed for a good idea in Silicon Valley. Almost anyone can throw together an idea to present. The bigger picture should be on the fact that there are talented blacks (as well as women, Latinos, and other minorities) that are going unnoticed in Silicon Valley, as well as other parts of the country, when it comes to technological innovation. In other words, focus on getting noticed for your technical talent instead of just one good idea. Just like an athlete, when you get noticed for your talent and what you can bring to the table, then you become the center of attention. We need to find ways to get that attention. Once that is done, Silicon Valley will come.