It’s ok to have a new normal!
What a great week! This year marked the sixth year of celebrating National Digital Inclusion Week. In case you missed it go to #DIW2021 or #DIW21 on Twitter to see all the great organizations, communities and digital inclusion practitioners that are working to empower vulnerable communities and individuals. Digital Inclusion week marks an important time to bring attention to the persistent Digital Divide. It is also a time for reflecting on our successes of the past few years and for reflecting on missed opportunities.
Nothing has prompted the need for reflection over the last sixteen months more than the COVID-19 pandemic. It continues to challenge us in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago. But – to be clear – issues related to the Digital Divide preceded COVID-19. The pandemic just amplified an existing problem and exposed it to some who may have been oblivious. At the same time the injection of new ideas and funding have presented us opportunities to make real change.
As we close the week, I was reflecting on what I wanted to say and remembered a speech I made a few months ago as Vice Chair of the FCC Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE). I wrote and shared some vision statements that occurred to me as I listened and was inspired by the passionate presenters during the Tech and Communications Diversity Opportunity Symposium and Virtual Fair on April 28, 2021. So, I thought it only appropriate that I share what came to me in that moment. So here we go…
- May we achieve 100% broadband availability, so that every person has the baseline opportunity to access tools and resources that that can help them to thrive and prosper. This is not only good for individual success, but it’s good for our economy and the bottom-line for many businesses. In the words of Susan Allen [ACDDE member and National President of the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC)], “we are not lacking in brainpower.”
- May we bridge the gap between basic digital skills training and workforce development/upskilling because this is the only way that we can have a workforce that matches the employment needs of the twenty-first century.
- May we disrupt any negative trends triggered by the pandemic and seek to embrace new opportunities to use technology to advance economic opportunity and the quality of life. It is ok to have a new normal with more telehealth services, more remote jobs, and every student having necessary technology and connectivity to do their homework.
- May we meet the people we serve, as digital inclusion practitioners, where they are with humility and open hearts. Be knowledgeable about shared experiences and traumas exhibited in communities that don’t resemble our own and be a part of the solution. Go to those communities with ideas and new opportunities – but always remember to listen.
- May we continue to create platforms where we can collaborate. Bridging the Digital Divide only works if we work together. It is not the responsibility of one entity or one sector, but all our responsibility.
- May we continue to work together with a shared desire for digital inclusion and equity because we all win when we uplift the least among us.
I hope you are as inspired as I have been by all the great work demonstrated this week by many organizations. I mean, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance had a billboard at Times Square highlighting the Digital Divide. That, my friends, is epic!
We, at Connected Nation, will continue to play our part. This year we are celebrating 20 years of service by facilitating a national conversation on the Digital Divide on November 17, 2021. So, please join by registering at https://cn20.org/. We have lots of work to do together so we continue to work.
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