Why Trends In Public Policy Will Have A Massive Impact On Communities Of Color

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Written by Lauren DeLisa Coleman

 

Broadband adoption, voter participation and the 2020 census will have a significant impact on communities of color.

Many of these topics were discussed during the Ninth Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit held on Feb. 6 in Washington, D.C. The highly anticipated event is produced by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications, and broadband industries.

Speakers included members of the public and private sector – thought leaders from government, industry and advocacy groups.

The MMTC focuses on how the intersection of media, telecom and technology policy impacts various demographics, particularly underserved communities.

The 2020 census will be digital, and that will be bad for uderserved communities

For the first time in our nation’s history, the upcoming census will depend on digital access. This is of particular concern given the fact that many people in rural or economically disadvantaged areas still have no access to the internet or computers and thus will not be counted.

Such participation is key given that a substantial proportion of federal domestic assistance is distributed based on population data gathered through the decennial census.

In 2008, 215 federal domestic assistance programs used census-related data to guide the distribution of $446.7 billion.

While a mobile-optimized version of census data gathering is said to begin development shortly, there could still be various drawbacks to a digital-only version. To complicate issues, the budget for the 2020 Census is significantly less than that of previous census activations, thereby limiting a variety of supporting elements around the census, particularly that of advertising to various sub-demographics in an organic manner.

Maria Smith Dautruche, vice president for foundation partnerships at the National Urban League, gave particularly alarming statistics and information:

The 2020 census will include a controversial question: Are you a citizen/legal resident?

And any concerns regarding the census can only be made until March 31, 2018.

This is about being woke, without a doubt.

 Broadband and social justice

Tech access and quality of life are inter-related. Given recent changes in policy toward net neutrality among others, events such as the Broadband and Social Justice  Summit are more important than ever. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and current and former FCC commissioners and chairs discussed the topic of net neutrality, the upcoming spectrum auction, 5G and more.

The future of the workplace and impact of artificial intelligence and robots on communities of color were also important parts of the summit. Challenges and opportunities were examined and analyzed. The continued rise of fintech and its impact were also discussed.

Illustration: Willian Santiago

“For the past nine years, MMTC’s Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit has acted as a one-stop shop featuring social justice, industry and government experts,” said Maurita Coley, President of MMTC. “This year’s summit gave attendees an opportunity to learn about and discuss net neutrality, algorithm discrimination, and the benefits and the perils of a digital census in 2020 for communities of color.

“Join MMTC in spreading the word about how the 2020 digital census will expand the existing digital divide for 30 million Americans who do not have internet access. Support MMTC by donating online, connecting with MMTConline on social media, and attending the Access to Capital and Telecom Policy Summit on July 18-19 in Washington, D.C.”