How does our 21st-century technological society adapt to be as inclusive as possible for all citizens? A South by Southwest panel tackled this topic.
The panel, labeled “Minority Report: Engaging Kids of Color in Tech,” featured several founders of organizations that promote digital literacy for young people, particularly minorities.
During the discussion, the panelists said they want to ensure as Texas’ minority population continues to grow, tech companies promote diversity.
“We need to change the thinking because there is value in these programs that are specifically focused and engaged in cultural relevance say and how we are training the next generation,” Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant said.
The panelists said they noticed kids responded best to robotics, virtual reality and gaming.
“It’s our responsibility to expose them so that they can pick sushi one day if they want or coding, or VR, or drones,” Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, founder of Rio Grande Valley-based non-profit Border Kids Code. She said she and her coworkers tell people that their kids are trilingual, knowing English, Spanish and code.
Laura Donnelly is the founder of Latinitas, an organization with offices in Austin and El Paso. She said every part of society is affected by the tech world.
“Young Latinas are part of the largest population in the state of Texas, they are part of the fastest growing youth population, their point of view really should be driving industry, they really should be those at the lead of innovation,” Donnelly explained. “Media and technology are two of the most powerful platforms right now to influence attitudes, to create social justice, and so we are putting that power in the hands of Latina girls.”
Google Fiber representative Daniel Lucio moderated the discussion. He said the United States ranks 14th in the world for average internet connection speed. Lucio said 61 percent of Americans have internet slower than 10 megabits per second. He said the tech giant is working on more ways to help them access high-speed internet and other technological resources to people who do not have it available right now. Other panelists supported that goal.
“The internet cannot be looked at as an amenity,” Gonzalez-Alcantar said. “When we don’t get them even just access to the internet, let alone quality access to the internet you continue to oppress people.”