On Valentine's Day, I participated in a panel discussion on how advocacy groups, civil rights organizations and ordinary citizens are using social media to protect the right to vote.
I did a demo of the Cost of Freedom web app.
And a live demo of the text app.
In the coming weeks, I will chronicle the Cost of Freedom Project as we prepare to launch on April 4. In the meantime, I want to share an excerpt from a post written by Brittany Papalia, an intern with the National Women’s Law Center:
Faye Anderson stole the attention of the attendees with colorful commentary and excitement on how she was going to keep these laws from passing, saying “I don’t like to fight, but I don’t like to back down from a fight either.”
That's true. Or as I like to say, if you don't want no mess, don't start no mess.
Papalia notes that strict voter ID requirements have a disparate impact on women:
So how do these new laws affect women? Well, if 34% of women lack proof of citizenship, then that may make attaining a photo ID more difficult since most DMV’s require some sort of proof, typically a birth certificate. Not to mention women who get married and change their last name and address! If their state is following a stricter system, then they will be unable to change their address at the poll without proof of their new address. As Faye Anderson joked, “she finally put a ring on it, but she can’t find the damn license!”
While voter ID is no joke, to motivate citizens to get in the arena, voting rights advocates must move beyond studying and talking about the problem.
To get involved with the Cost of Freedom Project, powered by We the People, please visit us at Facebook.com/CostofFreedom.
Seven years ago, I launched my blog. Today, marks a new beginning as I focus on the development of the Cost of Freedom App, a location-based web app that will provide voters with concise information on how to apply for a voter ID.
Marketing guru Seth Goldin recently observed that if you don't adapt to the post-industrial economy, “never mind the race to the top, you'll be racing to the bottom.” Goldin added:
Instead of waiting around for someone to tell you that you matter, take your career into your own hands. In other words, don't wait for someone else to pick you and pick yourself! If you have a book, you don't need a publisher to approve you, you can publish it yourself. It's no longer about waiting for some big corporation to choose you. We've arrived at an age where you choose yourself.
During the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee convened a panel discussion on diversity in the technology sector, “African Americans: Joining the Leading Edge of the High Tech Boom.”
This first-ever CBC convening of tech entrepreneurs and thought leaders was designed to identify strategies to open up “a whole new area of job growth and wealth creation for our communities.” Jackson Lee said:
The whole industry has moved and the question is: Where are we? We have no time to wait.
Rep. Jared Polis, a co-founder of TechStars, sees opportunities in disruptive services and products. The value proposition is the new efficiency the idea introduces in the economy. But keep in mind investors fund the team not an idea. “They’re funding the team rather than a great idea because an idea can change depending on the market reaction.”
To be successful, you must know the language and culture of the industry. Polis said:
It’s a different language that these people speak. It’s the language of capital and entrepreneurship. You need to study the language so that you speak the language of venture capitalists.
That doesn’t mean you have to go to business school. In fact, most founders don’t. You must know the basic principles of finance, including your ABCs – Series A, Series B and Series C funding rounds.
You also must learn the culture. So mind your Ps and Qs and dress for success.
While networks matter, Polis observed:
It’s not an old boys’ network. It’s a young boys’ network. When you have a young boys’ network, it’s easier to break into…You still have to build the networks.
Kerry Rupp, Managing Partner of DreamIt, said in a statement:
We’re excited to run our second program this year, coming hot off the heels of a very successful Demo Day in New York City in August. The caliber of this class is equally impressive. Additionally, we’re excited about the diversity of this group. In addition to the Comcast Minority Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program, this batch includes an Olympic medalist, an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran and a TED Senior Fellow, as well as several people from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
While all founders have a tough row to hoe to get to the next level, black founders must face a “harsh reality.”
The harsh reality for black entrepreneurs in the web/tech space. Your chances of raising startup capital are slim to none. If you’re an entrepreneur, good luck and prove me wrong. If you’re an accelerator or incubator, open your doors and prove me wrong. If you’re a venture capitalist please prove me wrong!