Brit Middleton, BET, October 30, 2011
A new documentary shines a light on Silicon Valley, the place where Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs got their start, but not for its historic record of producing the next great breakthroughs in technology but, instead, for its apparent lack of diversity.
In the CNN documentary series, “Black in America,” eight Black entrepreneurs in the NewMe Accelerator program share their struggles to launch start-up businesses in a place where minority representation is virtually nonexistent. In an interview that ignited a firestorm on Twitter this week, Mike Arrington, an industry leader and founder of TechCrunch, revealed an even harsher reality: “This is a white and Asian world up here–it just is,” he said. Arrington, who also commented that he doesn’t know of a single Black entrepreneur in the Valley, was harshly criticized for his apparent acceptance of the racial disparity.
While Blacks may work just as hard to get their businesses off the ground, there appears to be a different set of standards they face, from outward appearances to the ideas they pitch to investors.
The documentary, “The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley,” the fourth episode in the CNN “Black in America” series, premieres on November 13 at 8 p.m. ET.