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Black empowerment through tech with DeRay McKesson

Black empowerment through tech with DeRay McKesson
DeRay McKesson (Photo credit: Charis A.M. Redmond)

We caught up with activist DeRay McKesson to talk about the importance of tech in building up the Black community.

How important is technology for the advancement of Black people?

There is no America without Blackness. There is no culture or community without Blackness. Blackness has always set the trend of what is cool [and] what is relevant but we have not always owned the tools that allows us to spread that. So I think what’s important about the tech community is that for the first time Black people, at scale, are able to build, manage and influence [society] to offset the way that Whiteness has been a dominant shaper.

How can we break down barriers to access capital for Black-owned tech startups?

I think that it’s two things. Some of it is access and some of it is quality. If you have access to low quality things it doesn’t matter. So we have to make sure that we have access to high quality things that include capital and access to mentoring. The access part is huge but access [to] things that aren’t quality isn’t important. That is why it’s so interesting being here [AfroTech Conference]. The curation of the vendors and the people who choose to come is a reminder of the importance of access to quality. So I am hoping that this will continue to be a trend. I think if this effectively continues to bust the myth that the talent isn’t here, because we see that the talent is present. But you’re choosing not to see the talent because they’re here.

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