Why I Am In Tech

Aug 13, 2010

Watching the conversation about race/gender and technology byTristan
Walker
and
Charlie
O’Donnell
caused
me to think about the origins of my involvement in technology. In
particular if the statistics in this
article
are
indicative of problems in the technology industry.Looking back I can
identify the key points in my life that have lead me to the decision to
be involved in technology.

My earliest memory with a computer was around 6 when I would play
nibbles in DOS. As I grew my father bought me a stack of educational
games like “Math Blaster"
and "Where In the World is Carmen
Sandiego?
”.
Even back then I was addicted to the screen.

The main turning point, though, in my love for technology came from my
high school tech teacher. I was taking the AP Comp Sci program and had
finished up a project (I think it was a calculator?). My teacher seemed
so proud of me. He instilled so much confidence in me and my abilities,
at a time where it all was new to me. He nominated me for Scholar
Laureate which gave me the opportunity to go to conferences in Texas and
China, exposing me to interesting trends and ideas in technology. He was
one of those mentors that I got to
thank.
I went to college and saw even more tech, and heard people like Randall
Pinkett speak at NSBE events.

The power of inspiration is consistently undervalued, but I can say
unequivocally that having these experiences lead me to where I am today.
How can we expose more young people (minority and otherwise) to these
kinds of opportunities?

Race for me was never a major issue in my life. It rarely hindered me in
the things I wanted to accomplish, and I was lucky to be around people
who never seemed to judge me or reject me because of it. At times,
though, it was tough to look around and be the only black male around.
It felt like something was wrong in the system, as I was sure I couldn’t
be smarter than all the black males at the public school down the
street. Equal access to quality education is an issue for another blog,
though.

On the issue of exclusive programs for minorities, I have learned to
never judge these kinds of programs in isolation. When I was younger I
was never interested in joining the black-only groups, as it didn’t make
sense to me: I would rather join an organization that is interested in
who I am and what I am capable of, not just a trait like my race.
Experience, though, shows that many do feel comfort in these kinds of
situations and they can be one of many valuable tools in making young
people aware of the opportunities in life that are afforded to them.
Complex problems require multi-pronged approaches.

The goal in this shouldn’t be to simply change the ratio, but to
understand why the ratio is the way it is. If there is equality in the
availability of knowledge on tech entrepreneurship, then we have done
our job in creating an ecosystem that is fair to everyone. I don’t think
anyone is suggesting that racism is the reason for the lack of blacks
getting funding (I would presume that VCs can see the green inside all
of us ). It likely relates to a more systemic problem of educational
access and inspiration.

Equality in opportunity, not equality of outcomes.

Frank Denbow

Founder. Dancer. Entrepreneur.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.