Archives For race

In February 2013 Pew Research released their research on the Demographics of Social Media. Which has some interesting data such as:

77% of the average age of social media users are between 30-49
71% of women use social media versus 62% of men
The household income of top social media use is less than $30k

The ethnicity breakdown is:
Hispanics 72%
Black, Non-Hispanic 68%
White, Non-Hispanic, 65%

SNS users



Which-demographics-use-what-social-media

I was also interviewed by USA Today about the diversity of social media use in an article called: Minorities rush to Twitter, Instagram, smartphones

H/T: Divas & Dorks

Suicide
Suicide is one of those topics that is not talked about enough like AIDS, HIV, and other serious issues that should be discussed more openly instead how to get more twitter followers or increasing your klout score. Suicide in tech and social media has been a topic more recently in the past year with the deaths of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of at the age of 22 and Trey Pennington which both sent shock waves to their colleagues and those who they had a relationship with online.

For the black/African-American community suicide is hardly a thought for most as there’s enough black on black crime doing it’s damage. But recently with the deaths of Don Cornelius and Whitney Houston it has been in the news. Still some African-Americans are looking for someone to blame as the cause of the person to commit suicide vs looking at life, stress, pressure in general. What’s even worse is if it’s a celebrity, funerals have become big money publicity stunts for media and other parties involved. It’s a damn shame. Think about Michael Jackson’s funeral even though he didn’t kill himself and no I didn’t watch his funeral activities or Whitney Houston’s. In Don Cornelius and the other 30,000 a year suicide cases that happen a lot of people ask why? Why would someone want to commit suicide. Then there’s the religious side of things for the faith based community. That a person is going to hell or won’t’ be let in the pearly gates if they do and that starts another debate. Regardless of why people commit suicide we know that stress and/or something in their life has cause a reaction to create a need to want to end it all. One of those reactions is the goal of success.

Success
Success means something different to a lot of people. For many it’s money, or having material items or to be portrayed to have reached a status quo. For others it’s reaching a set of goals as to launching a company, completing task and/or being happy. But with the pressure of success and failures on the way to success it can create mountains of emotional turmoil that can lead for many, drinking, drugs, or other crazy activities to find an outlet to get away from everything. People are human, not robots and somewhere along the way it seems that we have forgotten about that and the line of judging others because you have a twitter, facebook, google+ or a blog gives everyone the right to judge others that can cause pressure that could lead to suicide. Just like how one status message can lead to job opportunity or a funding round it could also lead to someone’s death bed. You never know what mindset someone is in or what they’re going through.

Race
Race, race, race. It’s a never ending topic. Honestly I’m tired of talking about race but as a black man trying to make a name for myself and others in a primary white male industry it’s tough. Now it’s not just the industry but it’s my area of residence. I’m now in San Francisco and you all know it’s far from North Carolina. Some of the stories I’ve been told over the past five days have been mind blowing along with some of the reactions I’ve seen. A guy told me the other day that he used to work in Cupertino and he could go 30 days without seeing another black person. Stories like that along with being looked at like you’re about to rob a bank just cause you walking down the street or being talked to like you just saw your first computer last week. It’s insulting and sad. I’m not crying racist, it’s just the culture and if people don’t see or are not familiar with an intelligent black/brown person they’re first reaction is to think about what they know and what they see. That in San Francisco is a lot of homeless black people. It is what it is and it sucks.

I want people to look and treat me and others as humans as the same as the next person but despite how much accomplishments one or few African Americans have made we still have a long way to go. You may not think so or may think everything is ok but as the saying goes. You’ll never know what it’s like unless you ……..

Sidebar:
It’s crazy and stupid to see trending topics on twitter cause the riot police has been called because people are going crazy for a pair of shoes. Now I know everyone of those individuals are not black but majority are. What the hell are we doing people… my people? It’s 2012! If the shoes cost $250.00 and if 2,000 people take the $250 and put together that’s $500,000. That’s more than enough to fund or help get started 10 or more startups that could create jobs in the community. More on that in another rant post. I guess the same can be said for iPhone and other gadgets too.

Social Media.
Well… I don’t being like called a social media guy! But that’s my own fault. As an early adopter I used to call myself a social media strategist back in 2006 before 99% of the internet knew what twitter was and the sharks came. Guess I did a good job at marketing myself that but at the end of the day I’m an entrepreneur. Regardless what social media has done as the term has become main stream along with the platforms it has giving people a voice an outlet to say what’s on their mind at anytime. IMHO many shouldn’t say anything at all but we have the freedom of speech in America. Still as things continue to go from bad to worse kids are being bullied online, adults attacked verbally and the news media outlets covering it all just for a good story and ratings. It’s not going to change, only get worse. Like I’ve said years ago and in this post. Think before you post online and everyone is human. Put yourself in anyone shoes before you start attacking or judging. Music artist, actors, kids, family members, black, white, brown or whatever we’re all human.

Back to Suicide
Honestly, suicide is something I think about almost everyday. I’ve thought about it over the years. I think about it as an outlet to get away from life pressures from family expectations, online expectations, regrets and pain from the past or just wanting to reach goals now. I think about everything I wish I would have done different from instead of spending hours on twitter to learning how to code in 2006. From business deals and relationships. From making scarifies and moving hoping to make it big so one day my son will have a better life. From worrying about society and what other people will say. From just being tired. Despite what people may see online or I share, life is not a box of chocolate. Like I said on the CNN documentary, I won’t’ success so bad it hurts. As for me, what I consider success is not just money although that does help. It’s reaching a goal to be in a position where I can make a difference in the world to have impact to change hearts, minds and lives for the greater good of mankind. That drives me. I know it won’t come overnight and just like past years where I thought about suicide I would have a milestone saying, let’s see how this works or get to that point and go from there.

For now life continues as I deal with striving for success, breaking down racial barriers and using social media for the great good in the next chapter of my life.

Disclaimer:
Yep, I having a bad day but all will be well. Keep moving forward and if you’re thinking about suicide please find an outlet and someone to talk to immediately.


Ok, things are clearly getting out of control with this whole Michael Arrington, black Entrepreneurs, CNN, Black In America 4, Silicon Valley documentary. From someone who lived it and was in the middle of this whole thing let me tell you my view point and why I think a lot of the unnecessary attacks, blog post, tweets and all needs to slow down. You can call this a butt kissing post, make up or whatever but here’s my story/opinion.

When I met Arrington twice this summer in Silicon Valley.

While working on NewMe Accelerator this summer and going to Silicon Valley there were a hand full a people I wanted to meet who were not a mentor/speaker such as Sean Parker, Mark Zuckerberg, Ron Conway, Jack Dorsey, MG and Michael Arrington. I saw Ron Conway passing through 500Startups one day and waived hello, (almost counts). No luck on Sean Parker but I really didn’t try(sorry Pius) and both times when I visited Facebook HQ, Zuck wasn’t in the building (dang). I saw Jack when I had a meeting at Twitter HQ but he was busy talking and I didn’t want to look like a crazy fanboy so I kept it moving. As for MG I saw him at the TechCruch August Capital party after the Mobile First CrunchUp. We talked and he was like, Wayne…. we met at SXSW a few years ago…. Ok MG.

As for Michael Arrington, I first met him walking into the Mobile First CrunchUp with Angela Benton. I was caught off guard cause I wasn’t’ expecting to see him and I had a “geek shock” moment. I introduced myself and said by the way I was a friend of MC Hammer. Yes, I went the name drop route. Bad move, very, very bad move. A lot of people in the Valley do this (name dropping) and I guess it rubbed off on me but don’t name drop as a first introduction/impression ever. Either way Arrington was cool and said ok, we shook hands and he had to run off. I knew later that day he was being interviewed by CNN for Black in America 4 and was hoping to have a chance to talk with him again the same day but it didn’t happen.

Arrington does know Black Entrepreneurs:

Luckily I did see and talk with Arrington again a few days later at the Google Ventures BBQ. Ironically he was walking around with a “Black Entrepreneur” and we talked about the CNN Black In America 4 interview. This time I did a better job of introducing myself. One of his first statements was “how do you think I did”, “I don’t want to look like an asshole”. My response was, Mike, I haven’t seen your interview. He seemed generally concerned about how he was going to be portrayed in the documentary on CNN. He mentioned about being asked if he knew any “Black Entrepreneurs” at the time it kinda threw him through a loop but him and the “Black Entrepreneur” he was with at the time was starting talking “lightly” how they know each other.

From there Arrington and I talked about having TechCruch host a pre-screening for Black In America 4 when it comes out. Now Arrington is no longer at TechCrunch and with the way CNN is using his quotes, good luck with that happening now. Arrington and I talked a little more, I made a few introductions to him of other “Black Entrepreneurs” while at the Google Ventures BBQ and said keep in touch.

Arrington’s foot in the mouth moment?

I know for a fact that Arrington did know “Black Entrepreneurs” before the interview, before his CrunchFund and before he invested into a few Black Entrepreneurs with his CrunchFund. Some may not be considered the traditional Entrepreneurs but I know that Arrington knows Charles Hudson, Clarence Wooten, Tristan Walker, Adria Richards (who has attended and reported from TechCrunch Disrupt, the last two years) and artist turned entrepreneurs Chamillionaire and MC Hammer, all Black/brown. Speaking of Hammer, when I first met Arrington I texted Hammer and was like, hey I just met your boy Arrington and Hammer replied Arrington is the man.

So did Arrington stick his foot in his mouth when he said ‘I don’t know a single black entrepreneur’ or did he say it to stir up controversy as some have suggested, or was he caught off guard and said what he really meant or was he being to some would say, Arrington being Arrington. I don’t know and only Arrington can answer that but that doesn’t mean at all that he’s a racist. Trust me, there were times in Silicon Valley where I was thinking/feeling am I the only one here? Heck there’s times like that in Raleigh, NC. So for Arrington to say he doesn’t know any “Black Entrepreneurs” is somewhat surprising being I know how many Black Entrepreneurs would love to have been featured on TechCrunch or may have tried to reach out, myself included. That still doesn’t mean he’s a racist or all of Silicon Valley is.

UPDATE: See Michael Arrington’s blog post response to CNN: Oh Shit, I’m A Racist

Arrington is not Silicon Valley

Still, I’m not saying I agree with Arrington and/or a lot of his comments about Silicon Valley but what I can say is that living in Silicon Valley for the summer it’s an entire different world. You can say there are not a lot of blacks in Silicon Valley or tech and be part right just like you can say that Atlanta is the black capital of USA and be part right based off of opinion, demographics and culture.

Sadly for Silicon Valley, Arrington is a loud, public figure and CNN knows that. I know that. But his comments and/statements do not represent all of Silicon Valley or Silicon Valley VCs;it also doesn’t mean he’s right. Just Arrington perspective. Media is media and always be careful what you say to media on camera and off. Some of my comments will be used not the way I like and it’s life. Lesson learned.

What I would like to see are the interviews from Mitch Kapor, Ron Conway, Jay Jameson and others who talked more about the need for the NewMe Accelerator..

The Disappointment

Back to NewMe Accelerator, CNN and the documentary. I have yet to see a pre-screening. A few friends have seen it in NY, ATL and other cities. I’ve seen the tweets, had a few phone calls but I’m clearly disappointed that so far out of the pre-screenings most of the conversation is about Michael Arrington one sound byte! I mean there was hours and hours of footage being recorded about NewMe Accelerator and the eight of us living in one house. Note there were 11 startups in NewMe Accelerator but CNN only covered the eight of us in the house. But I mean Arrington was only interviewed for two or three hours out of the countless hours of footage and sadly this is all of what people are talking about so far? The closer it gets to the documentary being aired the more nervous I get.

There were so many great things that happen this summer. I met a lot of great entrepreneurs (Black, White, Asian, Hispanic) who wanted to see all of the entrepreneurs in NewMe Accelerator succeed. I hope this story is told in the Black In America 4 documentary too. Yes, we had challenges and situations… trust me. You’ll see but there was so more good things that happen versus what I’m currently reading about and seeing online.

Where are the Black Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley?

Why the ratio of Black Entrepreneurs vs other races in Silicon Valley may be very low? There are a good number of Black Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Groups such as Black Founders and more are doing a good job connecting Black Entrepreneurs in the community to support one another.

Where are the Blacks In Tech?

There are tons of blacks in tech! Another blog post on that and how to find them later but check out http://28daysofdiversity.com for starters.

Race, gender and relationships matter in technology, in business, in life!

This is a very sensitive subject but all I’m going to say and address at this time is that race matters. I’ve experienced it, seen it, doing it, living it and have stories to tell why and how it matters. You may or may not have seen or experienced anything “racist” yourself, well…lucky you! Sadly a lot of others across the world have. In the words of Kanye West “Racism still alive they just be concealing it”.

Regardless of what you build, how smart you are, a lot of factors go into play in terms of success no matter if you’re in Silicon Valley or Raleigh, NC. Be a good, smart business person and do the best you can.

The big picture!

Let’s talk about the big picture here and why Black In America 4 decided to cover NewMe Accelerator. The NewMe Accelerator after learning that only 1% internet start-ups founders are African-American and we wanted to do the following:

Increase exposure to talent,
Connect founders to access of early stage capital,
Provide mentorship from qualified individuals,
Collaborate and build successful companies in the heart of Silicon Valley,

And most importantly, we want to…

MAKE HISTORY

It’s not going to be easy (but nothing is) and the life-cycle starts here.

The negative attention, racist comments, and more is not what I wanted to see happen.

Also read:
Arrington, Race, and Silicon Valley by Hank Williams
Why Arrington is NOT a Racist & Don’t Believe the Hype by Angela Benton

My Challenge

Have an idea… do it and don’t talk about it.
Have a vision… complete it.
Have a problem.. solve it.

How black people use Twitter. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

Today while looking at Techmeme I saw the post titled “How Black People Use Twitter” an article/research from the Slate.com written by Farhad Manjoo @fmanjoo. A few things bothered me when I first saw the headline. One is what in the world is Techmeme’s link policy? I know it’s part algorithm, part human and part buddy system. The other is being “Black/African-American” I care about the overall public perception about what is reportedly being published online about how African-Americans use Twitter and other social networks. The Slate article is not the first post about how “supposedly” black people use Twitter and I doubt it will be the last.

The article discusses trending @Twitter hashtags created by African-Americans but may or may not be the most positive hashtag. I’ve written about this last September in a post titled I’m embarrassed, upset and saddened by those trending topic tweets! Does a Race have a brand?. The @Slate article also uses the hashtag #blacktag, umm ok……. no comment.

Here’s the most important part of the research, which is on page two at the very bottom:

If you’re not a teen or twentysomething and probably working class, you’re likely not following these people, and you’re out of the loop,” he says. Like me, Wasow says he only notices these conversations when they hit Twitter’s trending lists.

Given that these hashtags are occurring in a subgroup of black people online, it is probably a mistake to take them as representative of anything larger about black culture. “For people who aren’t on the inside, it’s sort of an inside look at a slice of the black American modes of thought,” says Jonathan Pitts-Wiley

I wish the quotes above were in the first paragraph vs being at the bottom of the article. Regardless can we move past the how black people use Twitter topic? I don’t see too many post about how other races are using Twitter? Lynne d Johnson @lynneluvah tweeted last night:

I’m sort of over reading blogs that talk about the slate article about #blacktag, and am reminded of what it meant to be #bwb black in 2001.Wed Aug 11 06:13:04 via web

Everyone uses Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites differently. Could some African-Americans use better judgement posting certain content to Twitter? Yes, but also can the rest of the world. Regardless, just because you see a few African-Americans creating various trending hashtags on Twitter don’t assume that’s how all “black” people use twitter.

One more thing! I don’t like the brown twitter bird with the hashtag hat… #justsayin