Is Silicon Valley A Mecca Of White Supremacy? Why Black America Needs A National Policy For Big Tech

Is Silicon Valley A Mecca Of White Supremacy? Why Black America Needs A National Policy For Big Tech

Jamarlin Martin has spent a lot of time thinking about diversity from multiple different perspectives, especially business perspectives.

A digital media entrepreneur, Martin founded Moguldom Media Group in 2006, building a portfolio of digital brands including Bossip, MadameNoire, and Hip-Hop Wired. Starting with $6, he ended up generating more than $60 million of revenue with those brands. He sold three of his brands to Nasdaq-listed Urban One in 2017. Martin is now focused full time on investing in black entrepreneurs and on his content platform, Moguldom.com.

Moguldom.com is a counter-culture business-content platform that is long on tech entrepreneurs, leaders, and influencers who are challenging the establishment.

There’s been a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion and over time, it has become an ambiguous term,” Martin said during a panel discussion this month at Black Tech Week Miami. “There are so many different agendas and groups that are thrown into the concept of diversity. It’s like gumbo. Everyone’s talking about diversity and diversity has something for everybody but I feel like the descendants of slaves, African Americans, need something very specific. In terms of history in America, ours is very different than everybody else’s. When you put everything together, you lose a lot of leverage. You lose a lot of focus.”

Martin sees opportunity in diversity for African Americans. That opportunity is taking the form of what could amount to a new movement. Martin spoke at Black Tech Week Miami during a panel discussion, “Beyond Diversity: Empowerment For Black Tech Entrepreneurs”. Fellow panelists included Derick Pearson, co-founder of Black Tech Week; Darlene Gillard, a founding member and partner at DigitalUndivided; and Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of VC fund Backstage Capital.

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black america national policy
Derick Pearson, Jamarlin Martin, Darlene Gillard and Arlan Hamilton at Black tech Week Miami 2018. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

Here is an excerpt from Martin’s comments at Black Tech Week:

Jamarlin Martin: Right now the big opportunity I see with respect to diversity is that the black community needs a national public policy in terms of how are we going to relate with Silicon Valley and big tech.

I believe Silicon Valley is a mecca not only of wealth creation but also white supremacy. So if we’re going to talk about diversity and inclusion, we really need to think about what’s the source of the problems with inequality and diversity. Where does it come from? What type of mindset? There’s a lot of people doing great work but we’re fragmented. We’re all over the place. We need to start talking with a national voice at scale and leveraging our resources across the community.

Facebook will generate over $1B from black users in ads in the U.S. Facebook has had pretty much an all-white board since its inception. The people behind Facebook who are programming so much in our society, these people are all white. We offer them data, we offer them content, we share stuff, and we’re helping this institution create wealth. There’s no geographical area that’s programming more of our future globally (than Silicon Valley) but I’m focused on black people. There are no institutions that are doing it at scale more than big tech in Silicon Valley. When you think about how is the future being programmed, where do our children stand? What type of opportunities are going to be there? I believe it’s time to start talking about what’s going to be our policy in relation to Silicon Valley, big tech, and institutions like Facebook.

A big opportunity for the community is getting more political, speaking with one voice, and we have to organize. That’s essentially what I’m working on myself.

Derick Pearson, panel moderator: Jamarlin, you’re talking about organizing a new movement to tackle the issues we’re having with Silicon Valley. Could you elaborate?

Jamarlin Martin: In the public discussion there’s plenty of talk in terms of how do we get more black engineers into Google and Facebook, how do we invest more in STEM. Those discussions are moving along but we need to think bigger.

One place I would start is pension funds and endowments. I haven’t seen a lot of discussion in that area. About a third of institutional venture capital comes from retirement funds, CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System), the state of Texas, the state of Florida. The money is flowing and it’s connected to the public. It’s connected to you. Silicon Valley investors — institutional investors — they’re getting their money from pension funds. They’re also getting their money from public university endowments, so when I read the statistics such as only 1 percent of (venture) capital distributed is going to people who look like us, and this capital is connected to public institutions in a lot of cases, I believe we need to organize and form a policy so we can spark the discussion with them and then push for policy change. They need to know what’s going on.