New developments in the digital divide

From The Verge:

When David Velasquez went home to California for a week in April, he found out that his parents didn’t have internet access anymore. Velasquez, a medical student at Harvard, needs Wi-Fi for work. However, his parents don’t own a computer. “They don’t shop online, they don’t watch Netflix,” he says. So when the connection got too expensive, they stopped paying for it.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the country, that decision worried Velasquez. His parents also speak very little English, and doctors and clinics in the US were canceling in-person appointments and asking patients to schedule virtual visits for any health problems instead.

Without internet access and with limited English, Velasquez’s parents wouldn’t be able to make that switch. “I knew that as our healthcare system started transitioning over to telehealth as opposed to in-person, in-clinic care, their access to health care — and other individuals like them — would be disrupted,” he told The Verge.

Telehealth is convenient for some people: it cuts out the drive to an office and the time in a waiting room, trimming an hours-long event down to minutes. But it isn’t easily accessible to the 25 million people in the United States who speak little English, who are more likely to live in poverty, often work service or construction jobs, and may be more at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Even if they are able to get online, most of the systems that support telehealth — like hospital portals and video visit platforms — are hard to access for people who primarily speak other languages.

Why it’s hot

The dream of a techno-utopia often forgets that human biases and systemic problems left unaddressed become embedded in new technology and can exacerbate inequality. So, until we solve those issues, they will be perpetuated.

Source: The Verge

What to do when you can’t protest.

As many join the front lines in protest, ongoing conversations on inequalities are also being thrust into the forefront of our minds. With many looking for ways to support when they cannot protest this is a perfect combination to #BuyBlack.

Data journalist, writer, producer, and entrepreneur @MonaChalabi created this infographic to highlight the disparity among African American, Latino and Caucasian business owners.

Chalabi says in her post, “BUY BLACK. Your protests and donations are crucial right now but so is long-term economic change…” and cites that 21% of black owned business don’t feel they will survive the pandemic while only 5% of white owned businesses feel the same.

With a disparity this high, it’s hard not to notice. Petitions like the 15% Pledge attempt to get the notice of larger retailers and give 15% of their shelf space to those businesses.

Socials are filled with requests to list your favorite black owned brands as they seem to be harder to find.

Why it’s Hot:

Meaningful purchases attached to a broader social conversation. In a time where consumers have a longer time in contemplation stage of purchasing with the pandemic, and weighing of options maybe doing more extensive research into products and companies that they align with before they make a purchase. This is another segment that will continuously grow as society relates to these beliefs even further, bigger brands will need to compete with the authenticity and connection that is created with consumers and those companies.

Source: Fast Company

Some Places to Buy Black:

https://twitter.com/symphonicxale/status/1267870461909544965

https://www.instagram.com/expeditionsubsahara/?utm_source=ig_embed

https://www.instagram.com/hadiyawilliams/?utm_source=ig_embed

https://www.instagram.com/notworkrelated_/?utm_source=ig_embed

Insensitive pro sports teams play “woke”

On Tuesday June 2nd, 2020, brands and organizations of all types blacked out their social media pages and some used hashtags such as #BlackOutTuesday, #BlackLivesMatter and #TheShowMustBePaused. Some criticized the effort because it made it was clogging up channels that protesters rely on to spread information.

Nevertheless, brands spoke up to show the public which side they’re on. Admirable, unless you happen to be a brand that has been accused for decades of racial insensitivity. Those tweets just came off as sounding hypocritical and tone-deaf.

Many pro sports teams have refused to change their names and mascots and even chants that mock or dehumanize native Americans. That’s their choice, but pairing that with a tweet meant to convey empathy for black, brown and native American populations just adds gasoline to the fire. Here’s a sample:

Why it’s Hot
For some brands, expressing solidarity with a repressed segment of America feels natural and progressive. For others, it’s a trap (of their own making).