Mayor Tom Barrett joined local leaders at Johnson Controls for its “Green Jobs Day.” The mayor gave remarks on the importance of teaching sustainability and developing Milwaukee’s youth for job readiness in the energy sector. At the company’s headquarters in Glendale, Wis., some 60 city teens engaged in career-oriented presentations and interactive workshops focusing on the importance of environmental conservation, energy efficiency and the development of leadership and professional skills. (Photo by Yvonne Kemp)
UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell is flanked by Philanthropist Michael Cudahy (to Lovell’s right) and Vice Chancellor Joan Prince (to Lovell’s left) and surrounded by participants in the UWM STEM “boot camp” for entrepreneurs.
Daniel Monge, a senior in physics, used a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) “boot camp” as an opportunity to fine-tune a personal statement and work on leadership skills. Eric Vang, a senior in biology, saw it as a chance to network and start planning ahead for research opportunities.
Monge, Vang and others taking part in a winter course were among 20 students who recently had a chance to use the facilities of the university’s Cozzens and Cudahy Research Center, a wooded retreat on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
The two-story building, donated to UWM by entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael J. Cudahy, once served as the “think tank” for Marquette Electronics, a medical device company founded by Cudahy and Warren Cozzens.
One of the university’s uses for the building will be as a center for students to work with researchers from UWM and local corporations, as well as to discover and explore STEM careers, according to Joan Prince, vice chancellor for global inclusion and engagement. A special emphasis will be placed on recruitment of students who have traditionally been underrepresented in the STEM fields, she noted.
The boot camp, held Jan. 7-18, was sponsored by UWM and the Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP) to prepare the 20 students involved for opportunities to participate in undergraduate research and internships locally as well as nationally.
A visit from the founder
Michael J. Cudahy stopped by one morning during the boot camp to visit with students, answer questions, talk a little bit about how he got started in business, relate the history of the building and offer advice on building careers in the STEM fields.
In addition to hard work, research and development were critical to the success of Marquette Electronics, which focused on electronic medical equipment, he explained.
Many of the company’s products grew from ideas born in the Cozzens and Cudahy center. “I’m feeling a little bit nostalgic,” Cudahy confessed as he looked around the room.
Also visiting was UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell, who noted that the U.S. has a great need for graduates in the STEM fields, and that universities need to encourage and nurture more students to explore careers in these areas. “If we just wait for students to appear, we are never going to have enough students in the pipeline.”
“This will be a place of STEM innovation for the STEM pipeline,” said Prince. “It will be a place for hands-on learning, tutoring and mentoring for high-school and undergraduate college students.
“These students will be taught by graduate STEM students and UWM STEM faculty. In turn, our undergraduate and graduate students will be mentored by faculty and researchers from the corporate community.”
For Tommy Lloyd, a first-year student in civil engineering, the boot camp was a chance to find out more about what researchers and engineers in the STEM fields actually do on the job.
“The STEM boot camp helped me find great opportunities at the entry level,” says Jason Martinez, an actuarial science major. “It’s generated a pathway to higher-level research.”
Wake Up Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
Recently, President Obama spoke about true education reform. The Milwaukee Center for Leadership Development (MCLD) is already on this path and is developing the MCLD Early College High School. President Obama also spoke about students graduating from high school with a technical diploma or an associate degree. The MCLD is already answering the challenge which was proposed.
Our young people need to have the opportunity to graduate from high school and earn a livable wage. With your financial support and provision of job shadowing opportunities and internships, and by partnering with the MCLD, the MCLD Early College High School can become a reality. We are focused on guiding our students on the path of success.
On Saturday, February 23, 2013, the MCLD will hold yet another stakeholders meeting for the community. It is essential that we garner the support of colleges, univerisites, technical schools, businesses, educators, and future students and their parents. At this meeting, we will unveil the plans for the MCLD Early College High School, answer questions and address concerns. Past MCLD students will also be in attendance to answer questions and provide details of their experience with the MCLD.
The details for the meeting are as follows:
When: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Time: 9:00 am -11:30 am
Where: Bryant & Stratton College-Bayshore Campus Room 1 (500 West Silver Spring Drive, Glendale, WI…park on the top floor of the structure across from Kohl’s Department Store)
Contact: Tamiko Jordan-Obregon for more information at email@example.com or 262.436.9570
We hope to see you in attendance. Please submit your RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is time for Milwaukee, WI to be an example of excellence in education!
More information about the MCLD Early College High School and MCLD programs can be found at www.milwcld.org.
Fifth graders Alyx and Nolan survey the after-school offerings at the diverse, dynamic Wilson Focus School in Omaha, Nebraska.
by Barbara Arnwine
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – As we reflect on Martin Luther King Day, many of us remember his famous and stirring “I Have A Dream Speech.”
This speech is memorialized as the centerpiece of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” which spoke of the twin evils of racial discrimination and economic deprivation that prevailed because of the defaulted promissory note that stipulated equality for all.
In an earlier speech in Detroit (1963), Dr. King linked the “twin evils” stating that “I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job.”
Then and now the civil rights movement is about much more than ending racial discrimination, a major tenet of the movement has been also advocating for economic justice and opportunities for all people.
Until there is equal access to economic opportunities for all Americans, our nation cannot call itself a post racial society.
The modern form of racial discrimination is realized through an economic proxy. We find evidence of this in the fiscal cliff compromise, which was hard fought and difficult to reach.
The devastating implications for African Americans and other economically vulnerable racial minorities of the shredding of the social safety network cannot be ignored.
The fruition of the December 2012 compromise allowed racial minorities to avoid a compound of injustice and discrimination that could have manifested without a decision.
According to the Congressional Budget Office’s August 2012 report, “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022 Report”, the cuts could have sent the entire country into another recession.
As we have learned from the Great Recession, racial minorities are disproportionately impacted by downturns in the economy. In 2001, nearly 65 percent of White adults and just over 60 percent of Black adults were employed.
The Great Recession caused the share of Black working adults to slide down to 52 percent, nearly seven points behind Whites.
Throughout the recession, the unemployment rate for African Americans continued to rise in the double digits, with the December 2012 unemployment rate at 14 percent for African Americans, while it was only 6.9 percent for Whites.
Even though racial minorities can count this fiscal cliff compromise as a win, the political showdowns surrounding the compromise have fostered a breeding ground of animosity that may preview continual struggles ahead.
Debates in coming months concerning spending cuts and raising the nation’s limit on borrowing are raising legitimate concerns in minority communities.
Those who opposed the compromise and were against raising taxes on the wealthy, have vowed that in any future debates they would stalwartly seek to include significant cuts in government benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which could potentially have a disparate impact on minorities and low-income families.
This debate illustrates the twin evils of racial discrimination and economic deprivation that Dr. King spoke of so eloquently.
Many of Dr. King’s remarks are almost prescient of today’s economic issues. His remark that “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous wealth while others live in abject deadening poverty” resonates soundly with the fiscal cliff compromise to tax wealthy Americans at a higher rate in order to supplant the harrowing growth of the minority poverty rate, which had previously been narrowed prior to the recession. In a similar fashion, his observation that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” speaks to how politicians should approach future economic debates.
Decisions in any upcoming fiscal debates should ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and should not create an undue burden on those in our country who are already struggling to survive economically. That type of injustice only impedes the growth our nation in becoming a post-racial society. Dr. King’s speeches push beyond issues of economic inequality, calling for parity in all facets of life. However, it is hard to envision the dream of equality manifesting without an equal economic playing field.
Barbara R. Arnwine is president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity – work that continues to be vital today. Tahirah Marston, a Business Major at George Washington University and intern for the Lawyers’ Committee, contributed to this editorial. For more information on the Lawyers’ Committee, please visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.
State Senator Lena Taylor poses with Milwaukee high school students who participated in Discovery World’s “Building the Water Generation” program sponsored by AT&T.
Discovery World and State Senator Lena Taylor teamed up with educators recently to teach Milwaukee high school students about the challenges facing the Great Lakes and available career opportunities in the freshwater field during an innovative program called “Building the Water Generation.”
The event gave 80 students from Bradley Tech High School and Divine Savior Holy Angels High School the opportunity to participate in a half-day freshwater program at Discovery World.
Students heard from speakers State Senator Lena Taylor, Roz Rouse of Milwaukee Water Works, and Bill Grafton of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Students also engaged in hands-on activities designed to more firmly establish their connection to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes through biology and water chemistry. During visits to four different learning stations throughout the museum, students learned about: the career options available in the water field and much more.
According to these experts, racism in technology is not a thing of the past. © Timur Anikin – Fotolia.com
by Lauren deLisa Colema, theGrio
Some things that go unspoken within the tech industry are advantageous: things that need to be kept secret, such as an upcoming product re-design or a soon-to-be-announced change of CEO. But many inside the tech industry have said that a certain level of negation based on race has existed in an unspoken manner for far too long causing missed opportunities and delayed dreams. In fact, an incident earlier this year has caused greater concern about this very issue.
Several weeks ago a video gaming company called Kixeye (working to position itself as a competitor to companies like Zynga and Entertainment Arts) fired four employees for what it considered to be racism. The incident began when a company manager made negative remarks about black and Latino employees. The CEO of this company said this type of behavior was unacceptable.
Although it’s unclear what inspired Kixeye’s CEO in this case, often such sensitivity comes as a result of being a part of diverse teams — something that rarely happens in today’s world of technology.
Look around at the high-five photos from companies just recently awarded funding. Or stroll through the offices of most young to mid-aged tech-related companies from Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley. It is clear that there is not much in the way of color. Often, conversations initiated about such concerns are pushed aside with many techies even becoming aggressive when questioned about the current lack of diversity within the industry.
“This [issue] is a sad reality — something which people in Silicon Valley don’t like talking about because they like to pretend the Valley is a meritocracy,” Vivek Wadhwa, a respected scholar and columnist on technology, told theGrio. “But if you even look just at the founders of startups, you will find that they are predominantly male and white, Indian or Chinese. You won’t find many blacks or Hispanics anywhere in the Valley. And I’ve taken considerable fire from some of the Valley’s heavyweights for speaking up about this as I’ve written [about it in noted business publications].”
Andre Brock, assistant professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa, concurs with Wadhwa, yet elaborates on the psychological and sociological parameters that encourage racial discrimination in tech. “Engineering and coding culture is highly masculinized and heterosexualized; corporate homogeneity and educational segregation lead to the dominance of white males at all levels of computational technology enterprises,” he said. “This is despite the fact that women dominate university admissions. Engineering and computer science are still male bastions.”
Brock also underscores that current attempts at making computer-related fields more diverse have been a little lazy. “Regardless of the growing presence of Asian and South Asian engineers and coders (who are often used as examples of ‘diversity’), the Valley and other tech environs are still mostly white guys — hence the ‘brogrammers’ and the recent problems at Kixeye.
“The strong reaction by techies to accusations of racism also draw from ideologies of information technology,” he continued. “IT is heavily promoted as ‘liberatory’ and ‘democratic’ — even as it powers regimes of surveillance at levels Orwell couldn’t have imagined. When you’re programming code while operating under these ideals, it’s a kick in the stomach to be accused of ‘deviant’ behaviors such as sexism and racism.”
One has to question why people remain blind to the possibility of racism existing in their field given the fact that they exist within a culture that still has many issues regarding race. Simply stepping behind a keyboard will not delete all conscious and sub-conscious feelings about other races. Brock agrees that racism in technology is merely an extension of the prejudices most absorb through society.
“This attitude is industry-wide: investors, financiers, corporate shops, development houses, tech manufacturers, tech media, and even audiences,” suffer from biases, Brock told theGrio. “Information tech is perceived as a masculine (and primarily white) endeavor. This is particularly evident when you look at videogame blogs. When authors such as Evan Narcisse and Patricia Hernandez bring up issues of race and gender in gaming, the comments are filled with pejoratives, dismissals, and even profanity.”
Naturally, not all technology companies nor all members of the technology powerati fall into this category. Microsoft, for example, has a string of diversity awards and accolades (even though they declined our request for an interview regarding this article).
No, the issue is not multi-nationals who benefit by following certain rules, regulations and incentives surrounding diverse hiring practices and making philanthropic overtures to organizations such as the National Urban League. Discrimination is more of a problem among the new entrants; those who have said they wish to defy all policies and creeds for the sake of innovation.
However, Wadhwa “can’t blame the startups because they are too busy surviving. They really will take anyone they can get who has the skills,” he said.
Of course, the black and Latino communities have some culpability. Our demographics don’t produce the highest number of STEM graduates — those specializing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But, even examining the positions within marketing, sales, HR or public relations at young tech companies, these positions are still rarely filled by people of color.
Is there a bright side to all this? Might these challenges encourage more African-Americans to strike out on their own? Perhaps.
“It’s the big, pink elephant in the room that no one wants to address because there is this illusion that racism doesn’t exist in this country,” Erin Horne Montgomery, president and executive director for National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs, told theGrio. “The lack of diversity found in the tech start-up community, and the tech industry in general, definitely leads black entrepreneurs to strike out on their own or leave the industry. It’s not by choice, but rather necessity. When you are continuously excluded by your peers and passed over for opportunities that you are qualified [for in favor of someone] less qualified, you are forced to create new ways of survival.”
However, this route may also bring with it certain challenges. “[I had the opportunity to] interview Omar Wasow, co-founder of BlackPlanet.com,” Brock noted. “He mentions that when his team was pitching BP to investors, they highlighted their innovative concept of allowing users to create and modify HTML webpages as part of their social network profile. They were consistently asked ‘but who’s going to use it?’ with the implication being that blacks don’t code or [in 2001] even use the Internet.”
Attitudes such as this can make the projects of black entrepreneurs a difficult selling proposition, even if you have the coding chops.
One hopes that venture capitalists have come a long way since 2001. David Teten, partner with ff Venture Capital and founder and chairman of the Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York, thinks so. And he has invested his social capital in increasing tech sector diversity.
“I actually strongly suspect the biggest drivers [for black tech entrepreneurs] are the same that motivate all entrepreneurs as a class: the chance to build something meaningful, have autonomy, and make significant wealth,” Teten told theGrio. “[To that end] Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of New York, which I chair, started the HBS Alumni Angels initiative focused on women and minority entrepreneurs within our first year of activity. ff Venture Capital has funded numerous entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs, prior to the inception of our Venture Capital Access Program.”
Perhaps Teten and his team will encourage greater a broadening in the venture capital community of the types of projects funded. One would hope that similar sentiments would spread, leading to the diversification of boards of companies such as Twitter, which is more frequented by people of color than Caucasians. This is key, because boards are where influence and power in the tech world reside.
When Teten was asked why we don’t see more diversity on the boards he cited the “same reasons that they’re lacking diversity at all levels of the pyramid.” Presumably, racist assumptions are one of those reasons.
How do we move from this state in which prevailing attitudes towards race are replaced with new ones? Attitudes that would benefit the industry through increasing the pool of talent through diversity?
“The way to change this is for people who have been successful from the disadvantaged communities to help others behind them,” Wadhwa believes. “Indians did that and achieved extraordinary success. This is building on itself.”
But Brock does is not as optimistic. “What do I see the future being? This is an easy question and a tough one,” he said. “The patriotic answer is that as America continues to increase in diversity, then the tech industry will have to change. Unfortunately, as a critical scholar, I believe that tech elites will continue to retrench and consolidate their power over the production, design, and development of information technology artifacts; they will maintain dominance over the affluent sectors of tech (which are financing and design), while growing wealthy over the outsourcing of labor to China for manufacturing and India for coding.”
However, Montgomery tends to echo Wadhwa. “Our community could at least better the situation of black entrepreneurs by supporting their business concepts,” she tasked of minority consumers. “As either an investor or consumer, we have the power to create the necessary cash flow to spark economic growth in innovation.”
Thus, the almighty dollar, technology success and the effects of cultural norms are still inextricably tied. However, to Montgomery’s point, the power to impact overall social change has and will always rest with the consumer and user, whose activity drives company earnings. Well, make that the consumer or user who is awake and aware rather than acting like the little lemming.
Many are starting to scratch their heads wondering what is truly at stake as we mover deeper into the era of haves and have nots; an era that will be based very much on today’s moves being made within the tech game.
The question remains: what will it take for blacks and Latinos to be players in the game with prominent pieces on the board?
Lauren DeLisa Coleman is part of the new technorati-to-watch. She is a mobile strategy specialist and analyst specializing in the convergence of Gen X, Y with hip tech platforms, and the author of the new e-book, Rise of the Smart Power Class.
by Taki S. Raton
As part of a joint association between the 100 Black Men of America’s Chicago and Milwaukee chapters, Milwaukee again is very proud to be invited for this the fourth year to the annual Honors Student Reception (HSR) held in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, October 12, 2012 at the UIC Forum on the campus of the University of Illinois.
Sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of 100 Black Men, the HSR is an annual event for Chicago area African American seniors to interface with representatives from over 45 colleges and universities from around the country to explore admissions and scholarship opportunities.
This will be the fourth year since 2009 that Milwaukee has been granted the opportunity to attend and the third consecutive occasion since 2010 that African American seniors from Madison, Beloit, and Kenosha have been included on the invitational roster.
The Milwaukee and state selectees are the only students outside of Illinois collectively who have been invited to this annual affair.
The selection criteria for African American seniors to the HSR are a minimum 3.3 GPA and a 23 cum or above score on the ACT.
Seniors are additionally asked to prepare an assembled personal portfolio with grades, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a completed common or specific college application and a personalized writing sample essay and a resume.
The essay could be on any topic to include why they may want to attend college and their major and professional career plans.
Wisconsin seniors will be numbered with upwards of over 200 students from the Chicago area to meet and interact with college and university representatives from around the country, many of which are of Ivy League status.
A sampling of the 45 colleges and universities that attend the reception include Morehouse College, Notre Dame University, Carleton College, Dartmouth College, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, Wellesley College, Spelman College, University of Pennsylvania, Hampton University, US Air Force Academy,
Vanderbilt University, American University, Chicago State College, Hampton University, US Army ROTC/West Point, Princeton University, University of Michigan, Chicago State University, and Howard University. Under the sponsorship of the Milwaukee Chapter “100,” this year as in the previous three, a send-off reception will be held October 12 at the African American Women’s Center, 3020 West Vliet Street.
A brief congratulatory program is planned to include food, refreshments and congratulatory comments by invited community stakeholders.
This combined co-association between the Chicago and Milwaukee 100 Black Men chapters have provided the opportunity over these past three years to identify a grand total of 75 Wisconsin students who successfully met the 3.3 GPA and 23 minimum ACT cum score for selection to this annual invitational. Out of the 75 students, 49 from Milwaukee, Kenosha, Beloit, and Madison have actually attended from 2009 through 2011.
“This has honestly been a great opportunity for me,” said then senior Nikki Grant who attended the HSR from Riverside High School.
As quoted in an October 27, 2011 published account of Milwaukee’s participation in the HSR, she adds that, “I have attended college fairs prior to this event. But none like the Honors Student Reception tonight. Although I entered the evening a little intimidated and apprehensive, I was completely comfortable after conversing with an admission counselor or two. I do not regret taking advantage of this invitation and I am certainly grateful for this experience.”
“I would advise every senior to strive for the privilege to attend the HSR,” said Marshauun Hall who was a senior last year from Madison West High School, “I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to speak with these college representatives. Each school rep was able to offer information not found on a website.
“Not only was I given valuable information concerning scholarships, admission and important deadlines, I was also able to familiarize myself with the type of people and atmosphere each school offered. This was a very valuable experience.”
Tracy A. Carson, mother of then Messmer senior Ebony Carson who accompanied her daughter last year to the HSR thanked the organizers for the opportunity and this experience.
“My daughter was able to meet with administrators and staff from some of the country’s top colleges and universities and acquire much needed information to help in her college search.
“ We enjoyed every aspect of the event to include the meet-and-greet at Milwaukee’s African American Women’s Center.
“Every part from the beginning was very well organized and I might add that the food in Chicago was just simply delicious. All I can say is that 100 Black Men did their thing and I know that we are off to a great start for college.”
For additional information on this year’s 100 Black Men 2012 Honors Student Reception, please direct inquires to this writer at email@example.com.
For many parents, this time of year is a wonderful sigh of relief. And for youngsters, it’s a magical time – a time of new beginnings and opportunities.
Tuesday marked the start of the new school year for many public school students across the state, while many parochial and charter school students began their new year in August.
Whether the start of the year was a few days ago or weeks, one thing remains the same: there’s something truly special about the first day of school. From the first day of K4 and beyond, the first day of school represents maturity, growth and new beginnings.
In these reader submitted photos, these youngsters – some of whom are just beginning their school journey and others who are more seasoned – were all smiles.