Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Are Black Folks Listening to Obama?

Todd Q. Adams
Todd Q. Adams is a long-time BDPA Cleveland chapter member. He is also a sustainable communities strategist with a focus on public interest projects in the areas of Smart Grid, public safety, transportation, education, and Health IT. He shared a strong message for all African American information technology (IT) professionals ... including those of us in BDPA. I encourage you to read and consider what Todd has to say. Use the COMMENTS option at the end of this blog post to share your thoughts.

During the recent State of the Union address, President Obama stressed the importance of education and TECHNOLOGICAL innovation. As he has done numerous times in prior speeches, he stressed the importance of a Smart Grid, additional research funding for technological innovation, and universal broadband availability.

I have found, even among IT professionals, very few Black folks that have read the President's National Broadband Plan. This plan outlines an economic development strategy for America that focuses on Energy Management, Health Care, Smart Grid and Education. Physical infrastructure (fiber, wireless, 4G, etc.), increased broadband access in under-served areas (yes, much of this is us), and policy are all part of the three-legged stool. It seems to me that we are just walking past the stool and viewing it like a museum.

Does it even resonate with us that billions of economic stimulus dollars have been targeted for technology infrastructure development, Health Information Technology, and digital literacy training? As a Black man working actively working in the broadband and Smart Grid arenas, I can tell you that the ship set sail, and we are standing at the dock with luggage. It pains me to be among less than 50 Black folk at conferences of over 10,000. I literally see more Korean vendors at Smart Grid conferences than I do Black folks. I see deals get done, policy staged, and partnerships brokered constantly. Yet, Black technology professionals still give me the deer-in-headlights look when I mention Smart Grid, broadband, interoperable communications, etc.

Since we are the technology leaders of America, we have to do more. Official positions relative to policy, case studies, advocacy, strategic partnership development to name just a few. The National Broadband plan essentially establishes a strategy for America's transition into the new economic reality. Is it an accident that Cisco, IBM, and Google are spending astronomical amounts of money in the Healthcare and Smart Grid areas? Colleges are changing the curriculum. Laws and policies have been changed. Even climate change and environmental justice are linked to all of this, but that is another discussion.

Obama even stated during his speech that the job market of our parents is dead and gone! Was anyone listening? We have to get moving yesterday. I cannot stress the urgency enough. Please note that this is stated in a spirit of love and passion - not judgment.

Please read the National Broadband plan at

You've read what he has to say. What say u?

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