Despite the fact that we have Black people in positions of power throughout government, including the White House, Black economic progress won’t necessarily come from the political arena going forward. So says someone who used to work for that White House, tasked with fostering the growth of “green” jobs in urban and vulnerable communities.
“The future is not being written in law in Washington D.C. The future is being written in code, computer code, in Silicon Valley and we have to be here. It’s not just an economic issue, it’s also a democracy issue,” said Van Jones, during an interview at Culture Shift Labs, which was held recently in Palo Alto, Calif. The event was attended by nearly 150 guests who are, primarily, affluent African and African-American business leaders, innovators and influencers in technology, innovation and social impact.
Jones elaborated, “Inclusion, participation of all people in the field that will determine the future more than anything else — that to me — that’s the new Civil Rights.” Founder of Rebuild the Dream, #YesWeCode and a CNN commentator, he also was, at one point, a special advisor to President Obama on green jobs.
Joining Jones for the interview was Benjamin Jealous, who is a partner at Kapor Capital and the former president of the NAACP. Echoing Jones’ comments, he explained how his recent work in technology venture capitalism continues the work he began as an activist. “I started off as a venture partner — 20 percent of my time, in six months I was a full partner, and it was all of my time,” said Jealous. Kapor Capital is the venture capital arm of the Kapor Center for Social Impact in Oakland, Calif., and as such, funds startups with positive social impact. Examples he gave include a company that offers an alternative to payday lending, as well as one that provides an affordable way for people to make calls from prison. “Both these issues [are ones] I have spent decades of my life working on,” he observed.
Watch what else Jones and Jealous had to say in the video clip above.
Learn more about Culture Shift Labs here.