Why Digital Inclusion is About Equality
Louisville, Ky. (Jan. 21, 2019) – Today, our nation officially recognizes the role Martin Luther King Jr. played in leading the civil rights movement during the 1960s and the terrible price he paid for being an advocate for equality. He was a Baptist minister who was born in Atlanta — the cradle of the South and of segregation.
Despite the challenges he faced, King preached about inclusion for all people and the importance of speaking out against injustice while living a life in service of others. His words still resonate today:
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concern to the broader concern of all humanity.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
To look beyond oneself and focus on the greater good can be difficult, but it is necessary and, ultimately, makes all of us better. Our motto at Connected Nation is that “everyone belongs.”
There is a great inequality that exists uniquely in our modern world — digital exclusion, or what some call the Digital Divide. It refers to those who do not have access to or understanding of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies.
This issue affects African-Americans at a higher rate than other populations*, and it means minority groups across the United States do not have access to everything from jobs, to better health care, to education, to basic government services.
For example, the lack of access to broadband is so prevalent among school children that there’s a term for it – the “homework gap.” Kids are given assignments in their schools and then directed to complete their work online.
But what if there’s no affordable internet in that child’s neighborhood? Or their parent can’t get them a computer? Or they are trying to do homework on a cell phone?
The equality our nation has long strived for within our schools is eroded the moment some children step outside of the classroom. This is simply because we are not making sure ALL families are connected and given the skills they need to be part of a digital world.
The same goes for senior citizens who need to access their disability checks; Medicaid patients who, in some states, must now log their volunteer or work hours; military spouses who must move when their loved one is deployed and need online work that can move with them; and so many others who are being left behind.
Digital inclusion is about equality. It’s about every person — no matter his or her background, race, or financial standing — having access to the same opportunities to grow and improve their lives that others already enjoy.
Our mission at Connected Nation is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions to expand access, adoption, and use of broadband to everyone. It’s not easy, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
I invite you to join us now in our fight to close the Digital Divide. Learn more at connectednation.org or connectednation.org/join-the-fight.
*According to the 2017 American Community Survey from the United States Census, more than 10.7 million African Americans in the United States do not have home broadband service, representing 27.6% who are not connected (compared to the national average of 17.9% of Americans without broadband service at home).
About the Author: Jessica Denson is the Communications Manager for Connected Nation. She is responsible for overall brand strategy, which includes building program recognition through digital communications, media relations, and marketing opportunities.