Achieving Digital Equity in Communities of Color

By Keith L. Scott, MBA, PMP

One could argue that the year 2020 was somewhat transformational.  The country came to a grinding halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of that year which gave birth to the phrase - “social distancing”.  Yet, there already existed a segment of society that was socially distant.  Those individuals lived in neglected communities of color.  As we moved the classroom into the home, many children of color did not have access to technology devices, laptops or high-speed internet to enable remote learning.  The new generation of children already behind are now dealing with the exasperated problem of Digital Equity

Digital Equity is an organization or individual’s ability to have access to and use of digital technologies, skills, and information literacy that can advance their prosperity and contribution to society.   When Digital Equity is achieved, communities of color (where inequities are often the most pronounced) can contribute to society and leverage technology to improve their opportunities. 

The murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increase racial unrest that erupted in 2020 has brought inequities to the forefront.  As a result, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are the primary focus of public sector planning to drive inequities out of government and society.  K.L. Scott & Associates has supported public sector leaders in attacking this problem at its core – the creation and execution of government policies.  When bias is written into government policy, the result will be one of discrimination and inequity.  However, when policy is developed through a DE&I lens, then all represented groups of society will have a seat at the table.  According to GovTech magazine, while policymakers have made efforts to expand access to computers and broadband since the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of availability remains prevalent in the southern states and rural areas.  To remediate these disparities, government leaders should develop policies and solutions that meet the needs of these communities with access to broadband, technology in virtual and physical spaces, and digital literacy.  Failing to close the gaps will accelerate systemic racism and inequity in these neglected communities which does not benefit any aspect of our society. 

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