Viewpoint: Digital Equity, More Urgent Than Ever
By Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
As the past weeks have shown, technology both connects and divides us. Smartphones captured the brutal video of George Floyd’s death, and social media amplified it and helped galvanize millions to demand action. Yet, deep digital divides exist, as the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed. Those without internet connections are at risk of being left behind as learning and jobs go online, as commerce shifts online for small businesses, as CARES act funds arrive for the unbanked and as cities move information and resources online. And those most at risk for exclusion are too often Black and Brown communities in both rural and urban areas.
“I’ve always thought about technology as the new level of Civil Rights struggle,” said former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter on a recent webinar hosted by the Urban Institute, in partnership with the Center. “Fifty or sixty years ago, folks were marching and demonstrating to have access to a lunch counter, access to a job, access to areas of public accommodations. Now, in the twenty-first century, it’s access to the internet. It’s very difficult to function in this society today if you don’t have access to the internet.”
Photo courtesy of Free-Photos.