Are Blacks Falling Through The Net?.

There's A Race Gap In The Use Of The Net

By William Reed

No matter how much african Americans have tried to shame white people over the past 30 years, seeking to make them feel guilty for the lack of inclusion and understanding of our problems, we're still ten times behind them in personal and family wealth. And unless we make moves in the Technology Age fast, we'll languish even further behind.

What you know and know about, and participate in, in the "digital economy: can mean the difference between being a 20th century prince or pauper. President Clinton says, "There is a growing digital divide between those who have access to the digital economy and the Internet and those who don't, and that divide exists along the lines of education, income, region and race." So Dawg, if you don't know about the Internet and its digital economy you and your family and friends will continue being among America's direspected.

Six years ago 90,000 Americans had access to the Internet, today that number has grown to 80 million - an increase of 89 percent. The Net is the economic engine of the future.

It took 38 years for the telephone to penetrate 30 percent of U.S. households. And television 17 years. The Internet has reached 30 percent in less than seven years and doubles in patrons every 100 days.

There's a racial divide in Interent use and the technology that drives it. Although the Internet is for the most part impartial, blacks are not there yet. Despite plummeting computer prices and billions spent on wiring public schools and libraries, white Americans continue to predominate in the on-line world. Because the bulk of blacks aren't participating in the Net and its industry, white wealth and economic dominance of the American economy is assured for the future. Black activists who used to say we were 'invisible' in American society will really see us fall out of sight in the next century - unless we switch our attention from symbols to substance.

If Black Americans don't make some move toward acessing the Net and its fortunes, we will be further behind. The bottom line is that there will continue to be an ongoing lack of black presence in the technology and companies fueling the nation's continuing economic growth.

A the number of Americans with Internet access grew in 1998, whites with access grew faster than blacks with access. Twelve percent of Black Americans have Internet access compared to 32 percent of white families with access. Households with annual incomes of $75,000 and above are more likely to have internet access than households at the lowest income levels. More than a third of white families earning between $15,000 and $35,000 per year own computers compared to only one in five black families at the same income level.

Many African-American families say buying a personal computer and getting Internet access is expensive when you have to raise kids and pay rent and utilities. Because so many black families are headed by females, Internet access is a problem that must be addressed by single parents. Forty percent of black households are headed by a female have a computer compared to 62 percent of two-parent homes. And, proving that two heads together do better than one, black families with two parents are nearly four times as likely as black one-parent families to have Internet access.

The numbers of the digital divide have alarming ramifications for Afircan Americans. Unless we close the gap we could be reliving history again! We could find ourselves in economic slavery in the Technology Age. The information industry and its activity produce two sides: digital haves and have-nots! Black Americans must become have-now people, and not think of have-later. Lack of exposure to computers will cause blacks to fall further and further behind.

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