The leaders of some of civil rights organizations active in the 20th Century are now turning their attention to “Silicon Valley.” The common denominator of their 21st Century strategy seems to be to persuade major Silicon Valley technology and new media companies to open up opportunities for African Americans and Hispanics. Asians already appear to be “appropriately” represented in the at-large workforce, middle and executive management. So, it seems appropriate to pause and ask: if all of the companies provided the employment opportunities requested, with “measurable objective data” for African Americans in the percentages requested, what consequential impact would fulfilling these “employment opportunities ” have in 2015 real time…

The leaders of some of civil rights organizations active in the 20th Century are now turning their attention to “Silicon Valley.” The common denominator of their 21st Century strategy seems to be to persuade major Silicon Valley technology and new media companies to open up opportunities for African Americans and Hispanics. Asians already appear to be “appropriately” represented in the at-large workforce, middle and executive management.

So, it seems appropriate to pause and ask: if all of the companies provided the employment opportunities requested, with “measurable objective data” for African Americans in the percentages requested, what consequential impact would fulfilling these “employment opportunities ” have in 2015 real time on the lives of millions other of African American men and women, especially young people across our nation?

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and the Economic Opportunity Employment Commission was established, there was a great effort to get African Americans admitted to the elite Ivy League schools and graduate “B” schools. This was followed by the organized effort of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s annual Wall Street Coalition Conferences. These were convened annually.

There followed a period of several African Americans ascending to high profile financial management positions at Wall Street firms such as Wasserstein& Parella, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Drexel Burnham, American Express, etc. And, during the Clinton Administration, at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Most enduring of all was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and the enactment of the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act of 1999, signed by President Bill Clinton.

Passed during the Great Depression, the act prevented commercial banks from trading securities with their clients’ deposits and created the FDIC as a guard against bank runs. Some experts believed that the act’s repeal contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, and the law served as a basis for the 2009 Dodd-Frank reform bill.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, along with then Chairman and CEO of Citigroup, Sanford Weill, and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin were some of the principal lobbyists for the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

Some African Americans did obtain high profile, high salarying paying jobs. They had, so to speak, the opportunity to walk tall in “high cotton.”

But, today, we must ask, did their achievements materially change the economic condition of the majority of African Americans and/or the economic opportunities in the communities in which they lived?

Consequently, today, I am less interested in how many African Americans are going to learn how to write “code” or get jobs as an engineer or computer programmer in Silicon Valley companies. I want to know, specifically, what technology and capital commitments these companies are making to assure adequate funding for pre-K education programs, not just in East Palo Alto and Oakland, but nationwide.

The management of Silicon Valley companies operates and sits on a trillion-dollar platform of capital wealth. A modest improved employment opportunity for some African Americans is not the answer. It’s only a drop in the bucket of resources needed to put out the social and economic fires of injustice burning within African American communities that are destroying and entire generation of African Americans in our country today.

Years ago, Rev. Jesse Jackson would open up several of his speeches by loudly asking, “What time is it?” He would answer his own question by responding, “Nation time!” He would repeat this several times and the audiences would join in his question and response.

Well, it’s “Nation time” again. Only this time, it is more urgent.

Silicon Valley companies need to be asked today, not only “what time is it?” but to be reminded, 24/7, that to many of the people immediate and distant from their executive offices, “Black lives” matter, in addition to the technology skills under their corporate management

From my earlier years of work in the civil rights movement and in business, one of the most strategic mistakes I observed that was most repeated is not knowing what is most appropriate to ask for from major business and financial institutions. The magnitude of the “ask” should be commensurate with the magnitude of problems seeking to be addressed, consistent with the known capital, business and technology resources of the companies who support we seek.

Ask for “chump change” and you will get chump change, backed by major financial pubic relations resources to show to “the communities” that they are responding to their economic, educational and employment needs.

As I said: what time is it?

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Be Careful What You Ask For — What Time is It?