It’s Time to Desegregate the Tech Industry


NewCo Shift Forum 2018/Ignite Series

Blacks and Latinos will soon be 40% of the US population. Why are they only 5% of the tech workforce?

Karla Monterroso, CEO of CODE2040, is committed to closing the opportunity gap for Blacks and Latinos in the United States. Monterroso spoke at the annual Shift Forum earlier this year, in the Shift Ignite series (full overview is here).

Karla Monterroso: Hello. I was visiting my family in Guatemala this last year. My uncle was able to recall the most salacious details of our very embarrassing American election. I said to him, “Tío, how do you know all of this stuff?” He says to me, “Mija, what happens to you all over there impacts what happens to us over here.”

Read More

The Power of Community


NewCo Shift Forum 2018 — P&G Signal Talks

Aaron Walker’s Camelback fund uses community to level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color

Aaron Walker is founder and CEO of Camelback Ventures.

Aaron Walker runs Camelback Ventures, a new kind of fund based on the insight that “genius is equally distributed, but opportunity is not.” Below is the transcript and short video of his Signal P&G talk at Shift Forum this past February.

Aaron Walker: Thank you. Good afternoon. The question that I’ve been asking myself is, what do entrepreneurs of color need to be successful? This is the question I’ve been asking myself for the last five years.

Read More

Farming While Black: The Anatomy of Privilege


Note: this article has the title “Farming While Black” because it’s part of a series about perspectives of people of color in the food and agriculture business. This particular story, however, is told from my point of view as an enrolled member of the Choptico Band of Piscataway Indians — the indigenous people of southern and central Maryland.

As it often does, it started with a bumper sticker.

JM Stock Provisions — a butcher outfit with a location in Charlottesville — didn’t mean any harm when they posted this:

For indigenous people in America, the West wasn’t won, in case that’s a thing that actually needs to be said for anyone. The West is a story of dispossession, murder, genocide, and forced assimilation. It’s the Trail of Tears, Bad Axe, Battle Creek, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Round Valley, and Washita. It’s the headstones at Carlisle. It’s forced marches, the extermination of the buffalo, the eradication of a way of life at gunpoint. It’s men dancing Southern Straight in memory of the feathers that were taken from their ancestors. It’s bounties and Red Skins. And, lest we forget, it isn’t over.

Read More

Farming While Black


Charlottesville Through the Looking Glass of the Local Negro

Let’s play a game called “Spot the Surprisingly Few Negroes at the White Supremacy Counter Demonstration.” Photo by NBC News.

Back in May, I was on the farm watering a group of pigs in a great big field of chickory. In one hand was a black plastic tube pouring water into a 100-gallon trough. In the other hand was my cellphone, which I was using to relieve the boredom of watching the muddy water rise around the pigs’ noses. I flipped through a newsfeed peppered with a half-dozen of the President’s daily outrages, eventually happening across an article titled something to the effect of “Charlottesville Confronts Racism.”

If you’re aware of the recent Nazi/KKK/Militia/Alt-Right Axis-of-Nostalgia rally that took place in Charlottesville a few days ago, then you may have missed the two earlier rallies that took place here in the Spring and mid-summer. Between the two, a few dozen Klansmen and a small band of people led by distinguished fist-magnet Richard Spencer descended on the city to whine about statue-oriented programming and “White genocide” in what is arguably the Whitest place in the western hemisphere.

Read More

The Hazards of Ubering While Black


Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have earned praise for serving minority neighborhoods that old-school taxis often shunned. Now a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that Uber and Lyft can also discriminate against African American riders and women (Bloomberg).

Professors at MIT, Stanford, and the University of Washington collected data in Seattle and Boston and found that black Uber users had to wait longer for rides and got cancelled more frequently. (Lyft drivers see riders’ names and pictures before they accept a fare, whereas Uber’s drivers don’t.) Women riders in Boston were given longer rides and higher fares than male riders headed to the same destination.

Read More