Do you remember the T-Mobile Sidekick? Did you ever ask how it was made? I sure did not. Here’s a cool profile on the phone, its creator – Andy Rubin, and its evolution into Android. Incredible stuff.
I remember some of my classmates at Woodberry having the phone. My only thought on it was that I could not afford it, let alone ask questions about how it was made. Who made it? What is the software like on the phone? What does it take to make that kind of software? Could I make something like that? Pretty simple, but mind-shifting questions, right?
Growing up, I loved taking apart our home PC and figuring out how to navigate its applications. In response to questions about what I wanted to do in life, I always said computer engineer. At some point, I lost interest thinking that taking apart and putting computers together was as much as I could do in that field. Perhaps, had I not nearly paralyzed myself the first day I ever hit somebody playing football in 7th grade, I would have had the awareness to ask one or two of the above questions (probably not). By this time, I placed a lot of my identity in being an athlete and spent a good bit of my time trying to get better there.
Over the past few years, I have started asking more of the above questions, and it is fascinating to dig below the surface on the technology we use on a daily basis. I really believe that encouraging these sort of questions in the African-American community is one of the gamechangers for the wealth of the African-American community. Since Black in America aired four years ago, I have discovered more and more black folks who are absolutely killing the technology game – Tristan Walker, John Thompson, Erin Teague, Eghosa Omoigui, Paul Judge, and Chinedu Echeruo, to name a few.
There’s no limit on how many more black tech leaders there could be. There are certainly a lot of questions that could use some solving:
- How do we insert more African history into our daily media consumption?
- How do we increase the efficiency of purchasing Air Jordan’s on release day, and use that event as a teaching moment for investing? How do we create real-time playback analysis of those butt whippings from grandma?
- How do we nurture the identification of business opportunities between what a kid is learning in school and the real world experiences of his dad who is working two jobs to provide for the family?
- The list could go on…
I’m excited about encouraging myself, Anna Olivia, my siblings, and kids who grow up on streets like the one I grew up on to ask and take the next step of building solutions to address them.